I’ve come to define addiction as simply the desire to escape or alter the present moment. There are soft addictions, such as sugar, internet, health fanaticism, people pleasing, self-deprecation and chronic busy-ness, which are so common place that they pass as “normal”. Hard addictions, such as drugs, alcohol, porn and eating disorders, are considered “abnormal” and are shamed and pathologized. Either way, addiction depletes us of money and time, numbs us from our feelings and disconnects us from each other and our True Self.
Getting stuck on labels of “normal” and “abnormal” behavior is a disservice to the individual experience. Abnormal provides a collective scapegoat for the normal. It’s easy for the workaholic to shame the alcoholic, however they are both doing the same thing — avoiding their True Self.
Ironically, most people in recovery from hard addiction are grateful for their more challenging stories because they prompted the need for change and their lives improved drastically on the other side. Soft addictions can enable a lifetime to slip by without any real change.Either way, suffering is occurring, consciously or unconsciously, because one is not living the Life he/she is here to live. Suffering is simply the internal guidance system alerting us that something is not true. At some point in our life, a belief was adopted in response to something that happened. For example, your caregiver didn’t come and soothe you when you were crying and, without more context, you decided you don’t matter. From the perspective that “I don’t matter”, you create a life that reflects you don’t matter. Your identity gets to be right and your inner child suffers.
“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
So we choose a behavior(s) designed to avoid feeling the suffering of the untruth. We choose this behavior over and over again and call it an addiction. Often we make ourselves a victim to our addiction, setting ourselves up to be powerless against the behavior. This keeps us in a disempowered state, and so the cycle goes.
But what if we embraced our addiction as a path to learn more about ourselves? What if we get curious about our choices? What if we looked for the meaning or even gift of addiction in our lives? When a person bows to the suffering and agrees to do the work to find Truth, he/she will shift from the experience of suffering to the adventure of uncovering the True Self.