What comes to mind when you hear the word addiction?
Substance abuse, alcohol, cigarettes “drugs.”
It is important to remember that addiction goes far beyond alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs. Anything can be an addition when you no longer have control of the desire and indulgences.
How about social media and shopping?
Addictions to video games are a 36-billion-dollar industry. The addiction of gambling. Around two million people in the United States are addicted to gambling, and as many as 20 million seriously interferes with their jobs and their social life. All, risking something of value in the hope of getting something of even greater value.
How about lying? Eventually, lying becomes a habit that turns into a pathological liar. Liars begin to feel comfortable and safe. Meanwhile, telling the truth becomes riskier scary.
Someone with an addiction, won’t stop their behavior, even if they recognize the problems the addiction is causing.
I will ask again. What comes to mind when you hear the word addiction?
May I be transparent? The other day I was talking to a friend, and she prefaced her conversation by saying she had been keeping a secret. I found this surprising since we talked often and shared a nonjudgement space. I could only wonder what she was keeping hidden?
Why did she decide to keep a secret? Why didn’t she disclose the information despite our close relationship? One thing I know for sure, secrets are tightly wired to our emotions, and fall under our wanting to control and be territorial. Talking about secrets, trigger the reactive armor that covers our vulnerable places. Secrets guard our most weak influences. We can be hesitant to explore these places because we fear the emotions that exposing our vulnerabilities might trigger. We are not always clear why some things feel like they need to remain a secret. Most of us are afraid of what we don’t understand, and discussions in this area can be uncomfortable.
I have a secret. I have an addiction.
My addiction is Chocolate. I love chocolate. I crave chocolate. It makes me happy and helps me with stress. It may seem simple to love something, but once I start eating chocolate, I can’t stop. For instance, when I have a Hershey’s chocolate bar, it is not enough. I can’t stop until it is gone. I can’t, just eat one. It gets so bad I begin to purchase the large size Hershey bar. One square or even a few are never enough. My family knows that if they bring chocolate into my house, I will eat it. So, I do not bring it, in the house.
I struggle in the line at the grocery store. It is a trigger when I see a chocolate bar while standing in line. Just the visualization becomes a need. I cannot control myself. Addiction takes over and reduces my self-control.
Immediately, I have unrealistic, poor assessment of the pros and cons, blaming the grocery store for increased levels of anxiety.
Once I opened the door, she revealed her addiction. My heart sank. Not knowing what to say, I said, I have an addiction to cupcakes.
She was dumbfounded. Silence came over the phone, and she said, “CUPCAKES!” Here she was revealing something she had kept hidden, and I was comparing it to my cupcake addiction. I let out a very deep laugh, and before long, we were laughing so hard, our sides begin to hurt. In no, time at all, our jaws got into the action, and we laughed some more. Soon, our laughter escalated! Laughing hysterically and unable to stop. I was, practically, laying on the floor. I stepped outside to get some air. My neighbors begin laughing. Having no idea, why they were laughing. Contagious laughter is like good medicine. It freed us from the tension in the air. Finally, we gathered ourselves. Vowed not to keep any more secrets. We agreed to each other through our addictions. A few words of prayer, and the call ended.
An addiction is a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory. It’s about the way your body craves a substance or behavior, and in your weakest moment, it could care less about consequences.
Because of my addiction, I spend my mornings on a stair stepper for one hour. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me, it’s a struggle. Although addiction is a choice. It’s hard to overcome alone. We all need encouragement and support. Regardless of the addiction.
So, the next time you decide to look down at someone with an addiction. Ask yourself, “What is my addiction?”
How do you stop being addicted to something? Be accountable to someone. Find a sponsor at your local rehab center, a workout buddy, or even a close friend or family member.
Don’t keep it a secret. Secrets kill.
Empathy and understanding are better responses to addiction than judgment and moralizing.
Remember! Everybody in the world has an addiction of some kind.
What comes to mind when you confront your addiction?