Addiction Is It Really (like love) Forever?
Are we “powerless over” _________________(pick yer poison)? I think that model is flat out b.s. and unfortunately, profoundly disempowering and damaging. Shocked? Good! Read on… (If you know me personally or have read a couple of my previous postings on addictive behavior maybe not so surprised but read on anyway)
First, we now know from the science, that at root, all addictions arise from the same neuro-chemical and neuro-electric pathways; PET scans, blood work, etc. clearly demonstrate the same pathways lighting up regardless of whether the addiction is to alcohol, heroin, speed, sex, gambling, chocolate, video games… The same reward systems get triggered and we want more-more-MORE!
What are ya gonna do? The AA model is “once an addict, always an addict.” While it is true that during the recovery phase if you indulge even a tiny bit, it is very likely you will fall back into the pit, this is not necessarily a permanent situation. The roots can be cut out. You can change your relationship to the world and to yourself and be free, really free. The best part is that by actually radically freeing yourself from a particular addiction, there tends to be a great spillover of increased freedom in all areas of your life; you become more able to creatively respond instead of reflexively reacting to new situations, or a repeat of old ones.
To cut to the chase, here is my m.o., tried and proven on yours truly, an experiment with N=1 (one subject, no controls), two methods that work together and reinforce each other.
Must add that I thought this was crap going in, that the physical stuff I could indeed not do but the mental/emotional stuff always had already happened by the time I had noticed it and there was nothing I could do about it. BUT I tried the experiment anyway and learned something new.~
1) First is method detailed here in previous post: Changing Habits – it ain’t easy!
This is really a version of mindfulness meditation that is more specific. It does not go as deep but may be particularly useful when you are “in the grip” so to speak.
2) More directly Vipassana/Mindfulness linked— just” stop, do not act yet, take a deep breath and slowly let it out. Relax. Close your eyes. Being comfortably seated in a chair can be helpful; feet flat on the floor, legs and ankles not crossed, hands in comfortable resting position. Eyes closed is best and easiest. Now notice how you feel, both in general and in the detailed specifics. No need for any sort of labeling or internal verbiage. Just pay objective attention to your sensations and feelings as objects. After all, you are experiencing them. They are objects of your attention and not you!
As you watch them, they will change. Absolutely guaranteed! Everything changes, constantly and always. This is no exception. Might get weaker or stronger, might move around, might change quality completely, but it will change… Hang in there. As best you can do not allow yourself to get distracted or sidetracked. When/if he sensations and feelings vanish in the general feel of you body, you are done for now; the craving has subsided at least for the moment
If after some time, they linger on or are even stronger, no worries, you have still been successful. In this case, take a quick inventory again of how you feel overall. And go ahead and move on. If possible do NOT indulge the craving but if you slip up, it is not “the end” but only the beginning of your journey. Pay attention to what exactly pushes you over the edge. Do you just give up? Is there some particular rationalization you use? Just note all this for future reference as you may come up with creative work-arounds.
Either way, doing this repeatedly, as often as the issue comes up, will set you free.
How do I know this to be true? My own addictions and the results of these practices.
I have been addicted to tobacco/cigarettes, marijuana, refined starchy foods, sugar, and sugar and sugar, thoughts/obsessive day dreams of righteous violence, thoughts/day dreams of very explicit sexual activity… All of these have served to distract me from my real life, the real issues I have faced. After applying the two methods outlined above they are all now non-issues, dead ashes. Examining them now reminds me of picking up some toy I treasured when I was a very young child, I remember playing with it and what it felt like, but it now seems almost like someone else’s, not mine.
It is true that some addictions go MUCH deeper than others. The roots of most all of them are in our early programming and imprinting, childhood, infant, and birth traumas. BUT THEY CAN ALL BE ELIMINTATED! It is just that for some the bomb squad (you) has to be more patient, slowly cutting one wire after another, until the explosives can be safely picked up and tossed in the trash.
You can be free~May it be so!
Please feel free to contact me privately or in the comments, for trouble shooting or further details on how to make this work for you.
Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac., Health Coach