An Outlook on Addiction
“Show me a drunk and I’ll show you someone in search of God”
All addictions, at their heart, represent a yearning for the lost innocence, a wish to regain the kindle of light that was once stolen from the Self by way of interpersonal and childhood traumas, leaving it fragmented. Wounded, our minds look for ways to survive the threat, but being unable to find one, are we driven to cope.
These coping mechanisms which, in past, served the purpose of survival against the threat, thereby being necessary, later become detrimental to a person’s well-being, because the euphoria attained through an intoxicant is illusionary, and comes at a great price.
When a person is under the influence of a drug, not only is the pain forgotten but all the fragments that were created as a result of past traumas are dissolved momentarily, making the wounding painless for as long as the relief lasts. Thus, in the state of intoxication, the patient reaches a supposed state of wholeness and unity, for whose taste he will pounce and thrust for madly, everytime, with the slightest sign of discomfort the reminiscence of his past creates.
Carl Jung portrayed the state of inebriation as:
“being gloriously, triumphantly drunk. There was no longer any inside or outside, no longer an ‘I’ or the ‘others’, caution and timidity were gone and the earth and sky, the universe and everything in it that creeps and flies, revolves, rises, or falls, had all become one.”
The substance that one gets addicted to matters the least in this regard, for it is only symptomatic of the real injury that persists within us. An addict, to say, is not after the drug in of itself but he seeks shelter from the pain of original wounding and laceration of his past that left a deep bruise in his soul.
Because it requires great amount of courage to face, resolve and integrate fragments of oneself, the majority adopt coping mechanisms; to wit, addictive behaviours, in order to feel safe. These ways of coping, though useful at the time of imminent threat, become not only useless but harmful to his sanity, once the danger has subsided.
There, then, arises a need to discover a medicine of just as much potency and satisfaction as the drug one has been addicted to, in order to find a permanent resolve. Making the patient abstain from the drug is least effective in seeing long term effects, as is practiced by most rehabilitation centers, because as soon as the patient after therapy is set out to face the world; all the triggers that lead to his cravings come right back. He still finds his love life falling apart, his father frowning upon his failures and his life lacking a strong motive, a meaning, which causes a strong relapse and the cycle of escape continues to go on.
The force that dictates the behavioural patterns of an addict is on subconscious level. A person does not even realize and his reflex drives him to reach for a cigarette, or a snack. That is why, the first step of recovery involves bringing the subconscious to one’s awareness.
- When there is an urge to smoke, he should, for a second, feel this compulsion, then make a decision by his free will to smoke. Doing this brings the person out of the state of powerlessness that is associated with his addiction, which is an appreciable milestone to cross.
- Naturally, when he has developed a comparatively strong hold over his reflexes, the term “Spiritus contra spiritum” comes into play. He should now begin to find alternatives that can give him the same or approximately the same level of joy, which the drug brought to him, without stripping him off his mental and physical wellbeing. If what an addict thirsts for unconsciously is meaning, he should find ways that bring peace to his heart. A sadist should practice roles of responsible leadership and engage in relationships that guarantee security without having to adopt extreme measures. There is a reason why religious conversion is remarkably fruitful for an alcoholic. Similarly, asceticism is not the path someone with habits of compulsive eating should be advised to take, instead; mindful eating ought to be encouraged.
- When the cravings and ache for the hits have gradually lessened, the addict has to learn to perform Shadow Work, by recognizing the root cause of his addictions, making continuous attempts of sitting with the pain whenever it surges to the surface.
The purpose of the said work is to diminish overdependence over the substance one is addicted to. Furthermore, switching from addictive to non-habit-forming drugs is not reliable as there is always a risk of developing physiological dependence.