When I think of addictive behaviors, the first thing that comes to my mind is drugs. Alcohol is a close second. In reality…we can be addicted to just about anything that changes how we feel.
“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”
Dr. Jung is correct…all forms of addictive behaviors, and there are many, are bad.
What Happened to Us
In the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the author talks about behaviors being more important than quantities of alcohol. He notes that “it’s not how much we drank that made us alcoholic, but what happened to us when we drank…”.
In this section he is describing addictive behaviors. Those behaviors are more important than the booze itself.
If someone gets drunk it’s pretty clear what their immediate problem is…they are drunk! But they may do things when they’re drunk (or high) that they would normally never do. they may do things that are completely counter to their normal personality…
- An easy-going person who gets into fights
- A conservative person who sleeps around
- An honest person who steals or lies
- A happy person who gets weepy
The fact that these people got drunk is significant. But the fact that they acted like completely different people when drunk is much more important. In a way they ceased to exist and some other person took their place.
We can be addicted to just about anything these days…
- Alcohol or drugs
- Online Games
- Socia Media
These addictions all have one thing in common…they are not the root of the problem. Some underlying quality, fear, belief, or character trait causes the addict to engage in the addictive behavior.
Alcohol is only a symptom of a greater disease. That is the contention of most recovery systems. This means that drinking (or drugs or whatever else) is definitely a problem, but it’s probably not the root problem.
Counseling programs are designed to walk a recovering person through a healing process gradually. A critical part of that process is self discovery. When we can turn the spotlight of truth on ourselves and be fully honest, we can learn a lot about who we are and why we do the things we do.
Once we begin to understand the truth about ourselves we often see some good and some bad. For many of us, the discovery of good qualities is genuinely surprising. The degree and extent of our lesser qualities is equally shocking.
We may see that we were lustful or selfish or mean-spirited or fearful or dishonest. Did any one of these qualities make us drink? We are careful to say that they did not. However, it’s reasonable to think that someone with a long list of challenges in their past and no way to deal with them may find comfort elsewhere…alcohol or drugs or food or sex for instance.
So our problem is that we are a person with a Substance Use Disorder (or addicted to something else). The symptoms of that problem are drinking or drug use or being adulterous or lying or over-eating or any of countless other “isms”.
It’s okay not to be perfect…in fact we are supposed to be that way. While we will never reach that perfect state, we can certainly strive for it.
If some addictive behavior is affecting your life, and if you are ready to do whatever it takes to be healthy, then ask for help. You may just find a brand new freedom!