So Why surrender the addiction

Surrender Your Addictions

Addictions can be more than alcohol & drugs. Addictions can also involve work, sex, emotions, lifestyle, exercise, shopping, food, technology, cigarettes, vaping, gaming, and…even personal growth/self-help!

Every damn time this card flips out of my Oracle deck, I know it’s time for me to let go of some emotional crutch, which tends to be below the surface of any addiction – even if genetics are involved. The study of epigenetics shows us that. A TIME magazine article written by Markham Heid “Written in the Genes?” states “Just because you have genes that code for a trait, that doesn’t mean that trait will ever be expressed” (p. 20). This is where the Nature vs. Nurture concept comes into play. If you don’t know what that is, here’s a great article for you to check out.

So, what is an addiction?

Michael D. Lemonick writes “Addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing behavior in the face of negative consequences; the overwhelming urge to continue something you know is bad for you” (p. 10).

Next, let’s define the 2 different ways to classify an addiction.

1. Substance/Chemical Addiction

A substance or chemical addiction involves consumption of substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs (marijuana – which is now being legalized in some states, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, heroin, etc.) Illicit drugs are also known as Schedule I drugs, which can never be prescribed. One might even lump pharmaceutical drugs under this category as well. Painkillers like OxyContin or hydrocodone have swept the nation being overprescribed not knowing their addictive qualities they have on the dopamine system of the brain. Data on opioid addiction from 2019 suggests that “Americans are more likely to die from opioids than a car accident” (Kluger, p. 45). I’ve often asked myself “How the hell did this happen? Aren’t our doctors more informed about the pros and cons of medications they prescribe?” Here’s how this pain med epidemic happened:

“The government originally considered hydrocodone a Schedule III drug – one with a “moderate or low” risk of dependency, as opposed to Schedule IIs, which carry a         “severe” risk. Physicians must submit a written prescription for Schedule II drugs; for Schedule IIIs, they just phone the pharmacy…..Part of the cause of the national opioid epidemic is greed and even fraud…the pills became a revenue stream to both the pharmacy and Rochester (a drug company)” (Kluger, p. 40-42).

2. Behavioral/Compulsion Addiction

A behavioral addiction or compulsive addiction is how researchers refer to gambling, shopping, eating, nicotine/vaping, gaming, and now technology, addictions. Later on, I’m also going to throw work, emotional, lifestyle, exercise, and personal growth into this mix too. The difference between the two of these categories is that a substance addiction involves consuming a chemical that will alter your brain chemistry, and behavioral addictions are based upon the compulsive behavior being addicting, which hits the same centers of the brain that a chemical addiction does. “Anything that has a potential of activating the dopamine system has what we call an ‘addictive dimension’” (O’Dair, p. 26). 

So, why do we become addicted?

This is a multifaceted answer, and honestly depends upon the person. The short answer is genes and/or stress. We’ve already talked about genes not necessarily being a determining factor in whether or not someone will have an addiction. It’s not a destiny; “nurture” or the environment and how stressful it is, is what can turn that gene expression on. Regarding stress and the brain, Michael Lemonick states:

“Stress can also alter the way the brain thinks, particularly the way it contemplates the consequences of actions. Recall the last time you found yourself in a stressful situation – when you were scared, nervous or threatened. Your brain tuned out everything besides whatever it was that was frightening you – the familiar fight-or-flight mode. “The part of the prefrontal cortex that is involved in deliberative cognition is shut down by stress,” says Vocci…A less responsive prefrontal cortex sets up people with addictions to be more impulsive as well” (p. 11).

It’s also important to note that the changes that are made in the brain of an addict takes about 90 days to reset once they are abstinent. “Researchers at Yale University have documented what they call the sleeper effect – a gradual re-engaging of proper decision-making and analytical functions in the brain’s prefrontal cortex” (Lemonick, p. 12).

Now that we know what happens in the brain regarding the “why” an addiction happens, let’s explore more of this stress-induced addiction and what that looks like. If you didn’t click on the link above to learn about “Nature vs. Nurture,” I highly recommend you do. This is where we’re gonna get into the “nurture” part.

Stress & Addiction

From my perspective and the therapeutic lens I view my clients through, anyone that has become an addict, it was never their fault. We now know genetically they had a predisposition, but what turned that gene on was some form of stress. AND, because they never learned healthy and emotionally mature ways to cope with stress, they went to either what they saw their parents/family/friends do to cope, or went to something they know that makes them feel good to momentarily take away (numb) and help them forget the pain they don’t know how to feel or what to do with!

So, if this is you, let that shame go! Now that you know this though, it becomes your responsibility to make a different choice – if that’s what you want at this time. Making a decision to attack this addiction head-on must come from you. You must want to do it for yourself. Pressure from family and friends will definitely be there; make the decision when you’ve come to terms with it. It’s gonna be hard because you’ve got the whole chemical change of the brain to deal with; but as we now know, 90 days is the target to start seeing it turn around.

Now that we know poor emotional health and a lack of healthy coping skills is a reason why those with addictions can turn into a substance or behavioral compulsion to feel better, let’s also look at a few other behavioral compulsions that can also turn into an addiction. Ever heard of a “workaholic?” What about someone that exercises to excess? Or someone that gets so lost in their emotions? What about a person that feels compelled to maintain a certain type of lifestyle regardless of a lack of income to maintain it? Or even that person that wants to change, reads all the personal growth books, buys all the courses, and attends all the conferences but never implements the information they learn and receive? Aren’t those all a form of a behavioral addiction too? If these behaviors begin to overtake one’s life, become the center of importance, and interfere with one’s level of daily functioning, then yes, even these seemingly “normal” behaviors can become addictive too.

So why surrender the addiction?

Surrendering to the addiction is not about giving in to it. It’s about recognizing that you have a problem that is greater than you, and that it is going to take more than just your willpower to heal and control it. Surrendering tends to happen at rock bottom; and rock bottom looks very different for every person. Do not judge yours against that of another. Once you’ve surrendered and realized this may be out of your control, that’s when the floodgates are open and you can then begin the process of healing.

Be on the lookout for my next article in this series coming out in July, which will involve information on treatment options.

Namaste lovelies,

The Meesh

References

Heid, M. (2021). Written in the Genes? TIME Special Edition: The Science of Addiction, 16-21.

Kluger, J. (2021). Addiction by Doctor’s Prescription. TIME Special Edition: The Science of Addiction, 40-45.

Lemonick, M. (2021). The Science of Addiction. TIME Special Edition: The Science of Addiction, 8-13.

O’Dair, B. (2021). Compulsion Without the Chemicals. TIME Special Edition: The Science of Addiction, 22-29.

  • Latest Posts
Michelle Scott
Michelle is a Licensed Therapist & Healer. She combines her therapy training with intuitive energy healing in order to help the body to release the emotional trauma, stories, and memories from its physical ailments, aches, & pains. When patients are open to it, she will deliver messages from “others” to aid you in your journey at this moment in time. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & a minor in Biology from Bradley University, and her Master of Science in Community Counseling from Eastern Illinois University. She is also a trained practitioner in 2 styles of Reiki, and continues to learn about energy, spirituality, and is intrigued by quantum physics as it relates to how we experience human consciousness.
No Comments

Post A Comment

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Be the first to hear about new events, products and all things She Is You!