How did I get here? Examine the layers of your addiction…. All the factors that played into your having a severe addiction. Before you ever picked up there were issues that made you find addiction and addiction find you.
Here are the reasons people develop severe addiction:
- GENETIC: It’s in the family: 40-60% of addiction can be traced to genetic predisposition. Just notice… that is most of the population.
- Manage this factor to prevent relapse: If you are a person who cannot casually use, accept it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can “have just one or just be a weekend warrior.” Also, make peace with your other family member’s use. Avoid family members in active use or develop a safe plan to be around them. Save yourself before trying to save family members. Usually you can only change other people by: changing yourself, being an example and protecting your sobriety.
- TRAUMA: (Especially sexual and violent) Most people with severe addiction have trauma that existed before their use and have trauma because of their use.
- Manage this factor to prevent relapse: Go to therapy for trauma, find spiritual support, do body therapy (the energy of past experiences is stored in your cells.) People exposed to trauma have a higher incidence of physical health problems. Healing traumas isn’t about erasing that they happened or “getting over it.” Healing is arriving at a place where your trauma isn’t controlling your life in a negative way and making your feel terrible.
- CO-OCCURRING MENTAL HEALTH: You can see physical health problems, like a broken leg, but cannot see depression, anxiety and bipolar. You cannot look at someone and tell if they have a brain injury or what the chemical balance in their brain is. Many people with substance use problems also have personality disorders. Women more than men are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder manifesting in unstable and dramatic relationships. Men more than women are diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder due to criminal behaviors and difficulty with authority.
- Manage this factor to prevent relapse: Stop self-medicating…. Most of us are not psychiatrists or chemists. Pot isn’t a cure-all and your substance of choice isn’t stabilizing your symptoms in the long run. Your best bet to stabilize your mental health is to trust science and take prescribed medications as directed. Also, be aware that after a period of high use, the middle, instinctual part of your brain is reaching out to the frontal lobes and telling it what to do. You will find yourself doing things or starting to do things without even thinking. Get in the habit of catching yourself, forgiving yourself and changing course. Just because you start something doesn’t mean you have to finish it. It is never too late to stop and change your mind. “Just because you slip doesn’t mean you have to fall.”
- MANAGING EMOTIONAL STATES: Some emotions are so uncomfortable that you would do anything to stop them.
- Manage this factor to prevent relapse: Have a plan on how to navigate your challenging emotions. What do you do to cope with feelings?
- SOCIAL/ ENVIRONMENTAL TRIGGERS: The Lifestyle. People, Places, Things. In the beginning of their use many people report that they wanted to belong to the group and needed social lubrication to have fun. People also report repeating problems from their childhood, by unconsciously reaching for what is familiar, even if it is dysfunctional. it is tempting to ignore problems or run away from responsibilities. Power. When people don’t feel safe and trust adults to get their needs met in childhood, they often grow up to feel resentful about “The System.” Even though people with addiction don’t want the system in their lives, they are oftentimes in various legal, mental health, family court, DSS systems more than usual. Institutionalization happens when people who are in a very strong structured environment like prison, the military even the school system. People who have experienced a lot of chaos and have trouble giving themselves stability often feel safer when the system is providing structure, rules and holds them responsible. When that is taken away, they feel anxious and can “go off the rails.”. Another aspect of power in the lifestyle of addiction is the dealer/ buyer relationship. People report that they liked dealing because they felt important and needed. Buyers report that they thought that their dealer was a friend, and life support. They realized later that they were making their car payments and buying them nice things.
- Manage this factor to prevent relapse: Develop sober supports. Change people places and things because, “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” The respect that you can extend to others says a lot about how secure you are within yourself. Self-trust is feeling safe in the world and managing your boundaries so that you are protected. When you have self-trust and feel secure in the world you can interact better with people and institutions. This will allow you to be respectful of people doing the job that they are trained to do. There are rude and power-oriented people in “the system,” but there are also people in various roles who care and want to help. Take your power back. It is important to do the right thing when no one is looking. Don’t give your power to authority figures. Control your behavior from within, not because someone is watching.
- COPING WITH LIFE: Life…. it’s a parade of gold spray painted poo sometimes 😊 How can you accept it as is and stop letting it negatively affect you?
- Manage this factor to prevent relapse: Know that events in your life are temporary. If you are going through it, know that you will reach the other side eventually. Things will feel better. Give what you can’t handle to your higher power and focus only on doing your best in the moment. Even if things don’t work out, you can be at peace knowing that you did your best.
- THE SENSATION: Some people love the thrill of it. (Wiz Kalifa 😊) Historically, risk-takers are the ones who would sail out into the ocean to discover new worlds or hunt down prey to feed the tribe. It’s an ok way to be but can really work against you when you struggle with an addiction.
- Manage this factor to prevent relapse: Learn alternative ways to satisfy your high need for sensory experiences. Nothing compares to an unnatural chemical high. When people get sober, they slowly regain their appreciation for normal small pleasures and beauty. Be patient and allow yourself time to open to what is real, not fake.
You are a human animal that has honed their physical brain, emotions, thinking and behaviors do one thing very well: obtain your substance of choice. Changing yourself down to your core is not quick or easy. Your addiction is the outcome of many factors in your life. By working through and healing addiction you can change everything that kept you using, then go even farther and heal everything that started you using.