Addictions: Why We Don't Overcome
The addictive cycle is powerful because you have become dependent on your attachment.
Whether you are attached to sex, alcohol, drugs, shopping, food or religion, not participating
in your attachment causes stress and pain and you seek relief. The addiction itself causes
you stress and pain, but only after the fact. The stress of the addiction itself requires that
you adopt some response to the addiction. Of course, the desired response would be that
you seek support and accountability to break the addictive cycle. Falling short of that, you
often resort to one of the following responses:
1) Denial – You cannot allow yourself to believe that you are addicted. You look for
evidence that you are not addicted such as intervals when you did not participate in your
addiction or your ability to function on your job or in relationships in spite of your addiction.
2) Justification – You come up with a reason why you participate in the addictive behavior and tell yourself that this reason explains the behavior, therefore you are not addicted. You might say, “I only do it when I am stressed”, or “I have suffered a lot of pain and I deserve a little pleasure”, or “It is not really a big deal, it is just recreational.” These beliefs allow your mind to accept the behavior and continue in your addiction.
3) Hiding – You are so afraid of the exposure of your addiction that you go to great lengths to mask it. Trying to be overly competent, extremely funny and entertaining, generous and kind to others or inordinately busy are ways that we mask the behavior. Our hope is that people will only see the mask and never look beyond it.
4) Delay – You know that you need to stop the addictive behavior but you tell yourself that you will do it tomorrow, or later. You need time to come up with a strategy. You need to wait until things slow down at work. You need to wait until your finances are in better order. Perhaps you are waiting for some sign that it is time to begin. These false hopes give you permission to continue your addiction.
5) Incompetence – Giving in to the addictive cycle and completely admitting defeat is the most destructive of responses. This response is fueled by a tremendous sense of guilt and shame. It can also be a passive-aggressive response directed toward those who have caused you pain. Somehow you believe that your pain will hurt those who wounded you and bring you some satisfaction.
6) Competence – Sometimes you temporarily succeed in stopping your addictive behavior and prematurely believe that you have completely overcome its destruction. You develop a false sense of confidence in your own ability to handle the addiction and refuse the help and support of others. The inevitable fall from this position usually takes you deeper into the addiction.
All of these responses have the same result; you continue in your addiction. The right response is acknowledging the fact that you are addicted and seeking professional help, support and accountability. This requires that you believe that you are not the victim of your own addiction but that you have choices. You were created with a free will to choose. You can refuse to engage your will and continue to maintain the status quo, or you can choose to break free! There are several specific life choices that can lead to freedom from addiction outlined in my book 10 Life Choices.