Addiction can be hard to recognize, especially when we seem perfect on paper: the right home, the right partner, the right work, the right life. And yet even with everything looking so right (and especially if it doesn't), we can still feel tension / distress and need release — cue addiction...
So what is addiction, exactly?
Addiction is any behavior that gives you temporary relief / pleasure, but in the long term causes harm / negative consequences and you can't seem to give it up. It's a subconscious mechanism for self soothing which provides perceived short term benefit at the cost of long term detriment to yourself (and others). You know it's an addiction when you continue to engage in this harmful substance or behavior despite knowing its negative effects. The impulse to indulge in the addiction feels overpowering, but it is possible to conquer and ultimately be free of it.
The first step to overcoming addiction and vices requires understanding that they result from emotional distress, without which there would be no impulse to self sooth through external escapes. The emotional distress preceding addiction is triggered by the current reality, but is rooted in trauma. Trauma, as I refer to it here, is the internalization of any emotionally distressing event that causes an splitting of self such as repressing authentic thoughts/feelings in order to remain safe and/or connected/loved or creating self punishing beliefs in order to make sense of hurtful events. The net effect of a traumatic past combined with a distressing present and a bleak outlook for the future is feelings of:
- Loneliness / isolation
- Helplessness / powerlessness
- Anger / resentment
- Sadness / grief
- Hurt / pain
- Anguish / torment
- Desperation / boredom
- Embarrassment / fragility
- Shame / guilt
- Craving (the perceived relief / solution)
These emotions drive addition and they stem from core beliefs that were developed due to the trauma and are now stored in the subconscious. These beliefs lead to defeating and painful interpretations of current events which are self-reinforcing. To break this cycle, these subconscious beliefs need to be reprogrammed. An effective tool for reprogramming ourselves is PSYCH-K®, a high speed method for subconscious transformation. A few of the PSYCH-K® balances which I have found to be helpful for resolving trauma include:
- The Relationship Balance with:
- And any other relevant people
- Only clients need to be present to complete these balances, although the other party can join as well
Only clients need to be present to complete these balances, although the other party may join.
This balance helps clients reach a state of peace within themselves with regard to the other.
- The Core Belief Balance — This process facilitates greater inner peace and harmony with the life, the universe, and with oneself.
- Transformation of Perception of Stress (TPS) for events past, present, or future which are triggering. Note that it's not necessary to reveal to the PSYCH-K® facilitator what the stressful situation / condition you'd like to balance is, in case you'd prefer to keep it private.
- New Direction Balance
- Resolution Balance
The Relationship Balances, Core Belief Balance, and TPS are typically what clients working through addiction, vices, and/or relapse choose to complete early on in our engagement which is non-12 step and is completed at home at your convenience. The New Direction Balance and Resolution Balance are useful for transforming limiting beliefs which can be identified by reflecting on triggers, patterns, situations, and conditions are processes completed regularly throughout the engagement. The net effect of this work is increased:
- Sense of well-being / wholeness
- Sense of belonging
- Connection to self and others
- Personal power and agency
- Inner peace
- Confidence and self esteem
- Strength and resilience, even with vulnerability
- Self-compassion and encouragement
- Purpose and meaning
- Forgiveness of self and others
- Greater sense of trust within self, others, and life
- Harmony with life
- Sense of safety and security
If you're serious about creating this change and working together, fill out this form.
How Working with the Mind Body Connection Can Help
PSYCH-K® is a powerful tool that works with the mind, which then effects the body. The body can also effect the mind so working directly with it can be a useful complement in your journey as well. Because triggers cause both mental / emotional distress and physical discomfort, working with the body can alleviate the physical discomfort while PSYCH-K® helps with the mental / emotional. The mind, heart, and body together act as a fly wheel and attending to each component simultaneously yields the most immediate and lasting change. That said, at the time a trigger happens, the body experiences tension and distress. The following are a handful of ways to detangle that energy real time:
- Boxed breathing - Inhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, exhale for eight counts, wait four counts before inhaling. Repeat until you feel relaxed.
- Fascial maneuvers - These are useful for reducing tension and compression within the body. I recommend doing this 15-minute routine once or twice a day.
- Sensory recognition - Looking left to right, identify two colors you can see, two sounds you can hear, two textures or sensations you can feel, something you can taste and something you can smell. Engaging all five senses increases presence and helps to ground.
- Butterfly tapping - Cross your arms over your chest with your palms flat on it and alternate tapping left hand and right hand until you feel sufficiently soothed. This technique can disrupt anxious tension being held within.
- Movement - Walking, Dancing, Exercise, and other forms of movement can help release some of the pent up energy.
- Acupuncture - In my experience this modality worked wonders for regulating my nervous system and helped me to do so while I was still learning how to regulate independently.
The methods listed can provide relief at the time the trigger is experienced. PSYCH-K® can then help you reprogram the subconscious trigger to reduce stress and potentially eliminate it if it is unhealthy going forward. To identify and understand what triggered, reflecting on the incident and journaling the answers to the following questions can help:
- What happened?
- How did you feel when it happened?
- Where in your body did you have that feeling?
- What thought(s) did you have about yourself, others, and life when it happened?
Keeping a journal makes it easier to identify patterns and increase self-awareness. Eventually through this work it is possible to finally feel safe to feel your emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them and to internally regulate your nervous system / emotions without external "solutions".
When and Why to Try Rehab
If you have an addiction to a substance, in addition to the steps already mentioned you will likely require a physical detox. Doing so with the guidance of medical care is a best practice. There are many facilities in which you can do so — a few nice ones are:
I do not receive compensation from these centers.
Even with the best rehab that money can buy, it is often not enough to just detox and attend therapy. Relapse rates are estimated to be 40 - 60% even after rehabilitation. From my work, it is clear to me that even though detoxing can resolve the body's chemical dependency, it does not resolve the emotional turmoil that led to it in the first place. Even in cases where relapse is avoided, often times new addiction takes hold because the underlying triggers have not been resolved. Therapy can raise awareness of these triggers, which is the conscious mind operating at 40 bits per second recognizing the programs of the subconscious mind operating at 40 million bits per second. Sometimes that recognition is enough to change, however more frequently, given their difference in horse power, the subconscious mind continues to overpower conscious desires. As a result, awareness is often not enough to create change on its own. Awareness aided by PSYCH-K®, however, is the most effective tool I have found for aligning subconscious programming to conscious desires to create a new reality and avoid relapse or addiction whack-a-mole. To explore how PSYCH-K® can help, inquire here.
How Psychedelics Can Help with Addiction: Pros & Cons
It may seem counterintuitive to turn to a "drug" to combat an addiction to another drug (or behavior). However, plant medicine can be a powerful tool to reduce addictive tendencies. From what I have researched, iboga is the most effective for this purpose. However, as I do not have first hand experience with it, I cannot recommend it.
Another potentially helpful plant medicine for the purpose of healing is Ayahuasca, which I have personally experienced (many times) and do recommend to anyone who feels called to it (with exceptions)*. That said, plant medicines are not saviors. As with therapy, they can increase self awareness, which in itself may help reduce addictive tendencies — personally, I have found psychedelics to be much more efficient and effective than therapy for increasing self awareness. However, as I mentioned earlier, awareness on its own is limited in its ability to create change and requires a method such as PSYCH-K® to actually change the automated subconcious programming responsible for the current undesirable results. By changing your subconscious programming, you free yourself to create a new reality that's even better than your current one.
An important consideration of working with plant medicine is the risk of becoming addicted to the experience of them instead of integrating the lessons discovered while on them. This is a common, unfortunate outcome I have seen. As much as psychedelics can facilitate our evolution, without integration continued usage fo them can lead to devolution. If you are curious about integration coaching, inquire here.
Situational Triggers for Addictions & Vices
In my experience, avoiding people, places, and activities that are associate with indulging in the addictive behavior or substance is helpful. We humans are not so different from Pavlov's dogs and once conditioned to make that association indulging in the associated people, places, and activities may lead to cravings (and then relapse). This association is one of the reasons alcohol, for example, is so hard to quit — it's seemingly everywhere and it's associated with routines such as dinner and networking. That said, it is possible to reprogram ourselves to undo this conditioning. If you're curious about how, reach out.
What You Can Do If You Care for Someone with Addiction
If someone you love is struggling with addiction, it's important to take care of yourself and to receive emotional support. Caring for someone affected by addiction or other vices can be taxing and at times overwhelming — I was once in this position myself and would be honored to help you through this journey. From my experience, focusing on the loved one with an addiction can distract from the necessary work within ourselves for ourselves (and for those we love). To inquire about support, fill out this form.
About the Author
You may be wondering how I know so much about addiction. Well, I have observed addictive behaviors within my family and I have lost someone I loved to addiction. Those experiences led me to learn more about it and to learn PSYCH-K®, which I now use to help others, including those afflicted by addiction either personally or by caring for someone with it. This process revealed to me my own addictive tendencies (behavioral) and self harm stemming from childhood emotional abuse and neglect. Having worked through my own inner turmoil to create inner peace, I now facilitate the journey for others. If you're serious about creating a life you love and are curious about working together, inquire here.
And in case you're curious, the different addictions I have helped to navigate include:
- Adderall and other prescription stimulants
- Disordered eating
- Excessive exercise
- Sex (including masturbation, porn, promiscuity, and serial infidelity)
- Love (toxic relationships)
- Self harm (mental, emotional, and physical)
- Internet, TV, video games, and other entertainment
- Power and control
- Excessive attention seeking
- Excessive thrill seeking
- Escapist travel tendencies
- Self-improvement (as a form of decision paralysis)