Am I an addict forever?
This is the question I have been mulling over for a while.
I dislike being labelled, so have avoided it.
If you accept a label as being who you are, how can you change? If you have a belief that you are an addict, and society tells you that you are always then an addict, how can you recover and be free of addiction?
I encourage and support others who are on the recovery road from addiction on social media groups, and see this belief being installed and not questioned. It is based on a historical out of date assumption. I believe it is a lie, and keeps people trapped.
What is addiction? Let’s get the basics straight.
Google defines it as:
the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity
Well, that is rather basic. How about this:
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary offers this: Habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one's voluntary control.
That’s better, as it admits you do not have conscious control. Neither of these mention that it is a permanent condition.
Marisa Peer suggests addiction is this: Anything that you do involuntarily that moves you away from feelings you are trying to avoid.
The disease model in western medicine.
When addiction becomes defined as a disease, then it becomes your label such as Alcoholism. This is the same for many mental health issues. According to the disease model, addiction is a brain disease. It is characterized by altered brain structure and functioning. These brain abnormalities cause persons with this disease to become addicted to substances or activities, once exposure to these substances or activities occurs. This model considers addiction irreversible once acquired. According to this theory, total abstinence is the only way forward, and then the disease remains dormant.
This does not address the psychological need that the addiction filled. The western medical model separates psychology from physiology. When the psychological need is filled in a healthy way the need for the substance or practice becomes obsolete.
Modern studies in neuroscience explain neuroplasticity is not limited to developing babies and children. Now we know that altered brain function can be changed back. So by reconning, no ‘brain disease’ is permanent if you have the right tools to change those pesky neurons. This is where hypnotherapy is powerful, and Rapid Transformational Therapy is so useful as a tool to make permanent changes.
So what are the emotional needs that are essential for humans to live at their healthiest?
There are 9 fundamental needs identified by the Human Givens Institute (https://www.hgi.org.uk/) :- (these are just the basics)
We need a safe place—an environment that enables us to lead our lives without experiencing undue fear and that allows us to develop our potential.
In order to feel fulfilled, we need to feel like we have the power to exist autonomously and direct our own lives.
We need to receive attention from others we care about and also give them attention in return.
4. Emotional connection:
To be emotionally fulfilled, we need to feel connected to other people. We need to experience friendship, love, and intimacy.
5. Connection to the wider community:
We are social creatures, and our brain is a social organ. We need to feel connected to something greater than ourselves.
Mental and emotional well-being require that we have time and space enough to reflect on and learn from our experiences.
7. A sense of status:
It's not enough to have a group. We need to have a sense of our value within the group dynamics we're part of.
8. A sense of achievement:
In order to maintain our self-esteem, we need to have a sense that we are accomplishing things of value.
In the same vein of feeling that we're accomplishing things of value, we all need to have the sense that we're part of something greater than ourselves, having a coherent set of beliefs about life and what’s it all for.
Obviously if any of these needs are not met sufficiently, mental stress and illness can follow. Just looking at different parts of society and the way we live, often disconnected from a sense of community, it is no wonder so many of us seem to have problems, and because mental health is poorly understood, and even more poorly treated or valued by the governing powers - it is even more vital that we start working to be part of our own communities, to support each other and be aware of each others needs.
So I am going to leave you there! With a list of needs that you need to meet in a healthy way in order to feel good. Just being aware of what needs are lacking in your life, may be all you need to enable you to move forward and make some changes - just getting out and joining a group of people that like doing the same things as you. I went to Zumba this morning. I am not coordinated or fit but I had a laugh as I stumbled about with others who were the same. I made connections and felt welcome, and I could support the others who were feeling the same as me. All my needs were met.
We will look at some of those needs closer next time, and see what we can do to help ourselves.