Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Enduring Addiction and Embracing Recovery

“What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt”
Hurt – Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails

Addiction has been in existence since the dawn of time. Once human beings found something that feels good and changes the way they experience life it was a done deal. Mind you, not everyone is prone to addiction to the traditional things like, you know, drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or gambling, but I truly believe that we all deal with some kind of attachment to something.

For some it can be exhibited in our relationship to money, material things, people, or even exercise (which is commonly believed to be healthy but it too can be taken to an extreme). Whatever it may be, if we are to grow spiritually, we must face these things square in the eye. My experience in my recovery program has made me do this. I acknowledge that despite how long I may be drug-free I still need to address addiction as the condition. The substances/behaviors are merely a symptom.

For many individuals who live with the hurt of addiction, this vicious cycle began early in life, many times due to some kind of trauma. In trauma informed care the question goes from, “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

While I never endured any physical or emotional trauma as a child I still question whether my early childhood experiences are at the root of my addiction. I was adopted at the age of six months and prior to this time I was in foster care. I know very little, if anything, about this experience. But I do wonder if I received the appropriate level of care at such a young age.

Also, I was a latchkey kid. From kindergarten through all my school years I came home to an empty house. This would be grounds for a call to Child Protective Services these days but at the time it was seemingly normal. Now I’m not placing blame on my parents but it simply gets me thinking about whether this may have contributed to my addiction issues later in my life. That would take a great deal of inner work to determine. In my recovery I’ve examined these experiences and believe that there may be some credence to this argument.

Then there’s the physiological element of addiction. As I stated, I was adopted therefore I have no true knowledge of substance use (or mental health) disorders in my family tree. Research has shown that addiction can have a hereditary link so even if there is no environmental cause there can be a genetic component.

But, as the old saying goes, “It is what it is,” and I have to deal with the problem at hand no matter where it comes from. For me, the solution is spiritual in nature. I have come to believe that addiction can be addressed through spiritual means. Now before you jump all over my case and say that addiction can’t just be “prayed away” let me share with you my belief.

If I truly believe that it is through developing a relationship with a Higher Power that I can overcome my addiction then I need to certainly do more than just pray. Recovery is hard work. It means asking for help – from people as well as God. After all, I believe that God often works through people. I have been fortunate and blessed to have many people guide me on my spiritual path. My family, friends, faith and recovery support system have been an invaluable part of what has become a life I once could only dream about. But there are also things in life that cannot be explained in human terms. “Why is this person now in my life?” or “”How did I happen to be in the right place at the right time?”

But what about you? What are your attachments? And how do you deal with them? This is the $64,000 question. If it were that easy then addiction would not even exist. And despite all of the ways that we are trying to manage addiction these days we are still in a crisis.

It is my fervent hope that we will someday find a cure for addiction but I truly don’t think it’s that simple. Until a person addresses the underlying root cause for their addiction then it’s simply like placing a band-aid on a gaping wound. The possibility for relapse will always be there. For all we know we may never find a cure, but addiction can be arrested and recovery is then possible.

It is possible to endure the pain of addiction and embrace the process of recovery. Faith, support (whether it be through formal treatment or social means), and being honest, open-minded and willing to try a new way of living can make a new way of life possible. Recovery is real.

Be well.

as performed by the late Johnny Cash

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