We’ve been taught some real sh*t about addiction.
It’s not as black and white (or brown) as it’s been presented.
Every unconscious addiction is based on unprocessed grief, which is also a lack of connection.
There are also conscious addictions, which are very helpful and necessary.
Every addiction is serving a purpose.
Negative addictions cause people to temporarily feel connected and provide some sense of their needs being fulfilled. Some sense of wholeness.
Positive addictions give people an outlet for expression. A forum in which they can cultivate a skillset.
I am expressing it this way, in favor of the word “addiction”, because the deeper issue is actually around the concept of addition itself. By salvaging and neutralizing this word, we become less afraid of our desires.
I recently worked with a client who struggled with overeating. I had her try the statement “I’m passionate about delicious food”. It was challenging for her to say, even though it’s true, because she was afraid of her desire. What if I become TOO passionate?
Well, actually that’s a great thing. When true passion shows up, the food will stop being objectified and start being truly appreciated. Maybe you’ll become a chef.
What if someone has a sex addiction? The negative addiction is driven by loneliness, desperation, greed, distraction, objectification.
But what if the addiction is truly owned and transformed into a higher calling? For me, this meant thoroughly enjoying celibacy. The powerful clear boundary was surprisingly refreshing and gave me a deep understanding of the safe energy people need in order to feel around other sexual beings. I like to say, all healing is sexual healing.
Going cold-turkey on most addictions without looking at the deeper need is generally going to cause terrible consequences. Unless we are prepared to replace it with something.
One of the funny things about 12 step programs (which have been amazingly effective for millions of people) is that that the meetings can be replacement addictions for whatever they are quitting. They provide a form of connection.
It’s often surprising to people when they discover that cannabis addiction can be resolved by using cannabis – but differently. The way I work with cannabis in a shamanic capacity, it’s impossible to become negatively addicted because it is highly uncomfortable, sometimes leading to vomiting, and always requires profound courage. It is never the same experience twice. It’s a complete unknown and always a risk to the ego. This leaves nothing to crave or to be addicted to. This approach causes people to deeply respect her power and to refrain from recreational usage.
A negative addiction is a passion that is not fully owned. A smoker who is berating themselves during their entire cigarette is going to give themselves extreme anxiety and will feel the urge for another band-aid smoke very soon. But a smoker who is fully committed to getting massive enjoyment from their cigarette won’t need another one when they deeply scratch the itch.
What we’re really addicted to is avoiding the fear of going without, underneath which we are addicted to the fear of scarcity.
Every unconscious addiction is run by fear of death at the deepest level. And this is maintained by avoidance. Fear is the Fear of Fear. And so when we look at the fear and get deeply honest and courageous about the true motives, the whole puzzle unravels and we become free to choose authentically.
Every spiritual master has at least 1 – 3 intentional addictions. Addictions are necessary to keep us alive, as channels of expression. Our mind needs an activity to rest on without constantly shifting. Many spiritual masters have been smokers or drinkers. Or eaters. Some have of course been sex addicts, which is a very challenging addiction to maintain without crossing boundaries.
Sex addiction specifically is generally based on the belonging wound which can be addressed quite deeply to the point of self-sufficiency, so the compulsive component is not necessarily difficult to integrate if the belonging wound is addressed directly.
Many people are both driven to be disciplined and at the same time motivated to honor desires and to give the body what it wants. So, how do we know what the right answer is?
It’s not a question of when and what we do (the masculine lens) it’s a question of how we do it (the feminine lens). If we see our craving for something or someone, and we take full responsibility for honoring that craving as an entry point into a PROCESS, it disallows us from living in an illusion that we can actually emerge ‘satisfied’. Satisfaction is always temporary.
The true goal is NOT satisfaction, it is integration. We are weaving the perceived experience of satisfaction deeply into our being in order to touch the part of us which fears we can not ever get what we really want.
We are learning to re-parent ourselves. Our inner child will always want more! More! More! Instead of drawing a hard line, we can gently empathize with the true needs of the inner child and determine an intentional and generative solution.
I hope this sheds some light. Happy to answer any questions. Feel free to share.