A little over a year ago, I was at a party and a group of us (five or six people) stood in the kitchen (of whom only some of us actually knew one another) and we were all talking about addiction.
One by one, every single person in that room (including myself) confessed that, “I’m an addict.”
There was no judgement or pity. Everyone was jovial and simply went on about the night having a good time, capped off with us all huddling around a winter night’s campfire. For just a moment, we all shared this sentiment and we all embraced what it means to struggle with addiction.
It was liberating, to share this enlightening experience.
I consider myself fortunate for having experienced a dependence upon alcohol at a younger age, and for whatever reason(s), steadily improving my life [over the past ten or so years] since.
Addiction follows me everywhere I go—every day.
Whether it’s stimulation from coffee, processed foods or spending money, addiction (compulsive behavior) has remained an integral part of my life.
Having risen from the depths (and I can only speak for myself), I will say that life is just life (whether it seems fair or not, it’s always just) and there are two ways to go about it: numb—diluting or escaping from our reality, or fully present and aware; feeling our way through every extreme—from utter bliss to [memories of] childhood trauma.
Recovery truly is an ongoing effort and support is vital. I was conditioned to be an alcoholic from a young age. Thanks to a handful of people over the years who care about me and who recognized my predicament, there has always been a voice of conscience whispering to my own inner consciousness.
There is no guarantee that we’ll be cured or if we’ll relapse again. I have, over and over and over in the past. Too much coffee each day and afternoon, over-eating (comfort eating) processed foods, habitually smoking marijuana, prescriptions, drama, television (entertainment) over-working, sex, etc. It’s important to recognize that addiction can apply to nearly every facet of our lives.
Are we simply choosing to ignore what the Universe has placed before of us—an opportunity to learn, through diversity?
“Most notably, might I suggest that from a bright young age, I’ve been conditioned to be dependent upon the very system that harbors my addiction(s)?”
Even attention, like social media can be addictive. What neural passage ways have we created (or destroyed) in order to activate our pleasure centers, eliciting Dopamine response? Personal experience has taught me that it takes years to restore a harmonic brain chemistry. In other words, there are no short cuts to sobriety.
Loneliness can contribute to one’s self-soothing tendencies as well.
My point here is that, addiction wears many masks. It’s likely, you’re around at least one person nearly every day who struggles with an addiction.
To sum it up, it’s taken me this long to even begin feeling comfortable enough to shed more light on my personal experience. I’ve felt ashamed for a long time and have continually succumbed to the peer pressure of others—allowing myself to fall back into ‘bad’ habits.
As the saying goes, “Old habits die hard.”
Nothing short of entirely revamping my lifestyle, including moving to another state has contributed to these necessary changes. At first, yes, “I ran”. I ran away from my problems, only to face the same consequences elsewhere.
We must face these issues head-on. There is only one way through.
Our main objective is to recognize it exists in far more areas of life than just one’s relationship with alcohol. Where do the chemical imbalances arrive from to begin with? What truly causes addiction? This matter will only be solved and healed, when enough people commit themselves to helping the welfare of others and themselves.
It will require nothing short of a collective effort, unlike anything we’ve ever seen—global healing and a shift towards a healthier planet.
My entire life, I’ve peered outward at the world around me with dissatisfaction. Time and time again, I have accepted that, “I am the change” and have resigned myself to pioneering these [cumulative] changes in my own life—constantly moving forward. Not up or down, just ahead.
Keep going—even if you have to crawl.
Some days, we might feel paralyzed by our dependence. There will be moments where it gets the best of us—succumbing to that sensual escape, when we accept and totally identify with it; typically followed by regret, guilt, shame, etc. Let that day go—it’s in the past now.
Stop judging yourself and others.
Again, keep going—do the best you can. Never give up, but I encourage you to surrender (through awareness and admission). If it’s possible, sit with these feelings when they arise. Wipe the mental slate clean (self-sabotaging thoughts). What memories surface? Is there something that requires resolution that I’ve been ignoring or refusing to face? Am I soothing the pain [I experienced as a child]?
One moment (a single minute) of silent meditation can be exceptionally beneficial throughout our day, especially in the midst or onset of a withdrawal. Just sit, breathe and listen. When thoughts [and/or emotions] prevail, say to yourself, “Hmmmmm” and again focus on your breathing.
To be fully human, we must recognize what is human in every individual and we must accept that these traits exist within each of us as well. I accept that in the past, my alter ego has won out over my own inner volition to rise above and beyond my weaknesses. I am exercising each weakness, so they will become strengths in hopes that someday, what overcomes me now, will only be a shadow or distant memory.
Addiction is devastating, not only to those who are afflicted by it, but by our loved ones, co-workers, etc. who are also by our side each day.
Alcohol has never solved one problem in my life—but it’s created many.
Please, if you’re at all in need of help or wish to recover, seek help immediately. One of the single greatest gifts that is restored through sobriety is empathy.
Let’s work together to end this vicious cycle, so we may all heal.