Blog 45: SEX AND ADDICTIONS: Do You Fully Understand The Root Cause Of Addictions?
Addiction is often about the need to find a connection so as to fill an emotional gap from way back when. Jean Kilbourne wrote, ‘Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there” can instantly fill up the emptiness inside.’
But what is this emptiness?
Much of what we feel, how we act or behave starts in childhood as a direct result of our childhood experiences.
And crucial to a child’s emotional development – is the bond that is created between the baby/toddler/child and their parent/s.
The parent child bond creates feelings of security and containment. It helps the child feel loved and it helps build confidence, so that the child will feel held and supported.
If for whatever reason, the bond between a mother and a child is not formed, if for whatever reason a child feels rejected, abandoned or not good enough to be loved – then this could lead to consequences that are not always constructive.
Certain children may also feel that their siblings got more attention and that they were loved and cared for more than they ever were:
– Some may feel that they were never as pretty, clever or successful as their siblings.
– Some may sense and feel disappointment from their parents, leading to feelings of shame and worthlessness.
All these feelings could then lead to issues of self-worth, feelings of failure and perhaps even issues with regards body image, ugliness and so on.
Consequently, a child can experience a whole range of emotions from rage to sadness, anger to depression and so on. This could deeply affect a child’s sense of belonging, confidence and sense of self-worth.
On the other hand, if the child experiences abuse, sexual or otherwise, (see Blog 44) this could lead to similar emotions, that is – rage, sadness, depression, a lack of self-worth, and so on.
In some cases, even if a child is unable to bond sufficiently with their parents, having other close family members or even teachers at school who value them, can help some children overcome any issues of self-worth and so on.
If however the parental or other adult bonds remain non-existent, or if the bonds are fraught with friction, then bonding with anyone later on in life may prove difficult. If a child learns not to trust a parent or any adult they come into contact with – this could have serious consequences for the child (later adult), for the rest of their lives.
And this could lead to issues with regards sustaining long-term relationships, because what we learn about adults and what we learn about relationships in childhood – we take with us into adulthood.
But how do people deal with the pain and fear of rejection or the pain of not feeling loved or good enough to be loved?
As Sherman Alexie, wrote in ‘the Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-time Indian: “There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.”
Some turn to therapy for help but for many others the pain may be so unbearable and it may run so deep, that the only way to suppress it – is by drinking gallons of alcohol, taking drugs, clubbing, having copious amounts sex, masturbating, indulging in pornography, self-harming, gambling, shopping, over-eating, or doing whatever it takes to numb the pain.
As a result they may become addicted to suppressing the pain and consequently, they may indulge more and more in dulling their senses.
Addiction is about fear – and over time it becomes a kind of ‘companion’ which helps mask excruciating and debilitating pain.
Acting on this fear is one thing – however any form of addiction has diminishing returns. Because no matter how much is drunk, how many drugs are taken, how much sex is had, how much is eaten, and so on – the pain remains.
The only way to deal with any form of addiction – is to find the root of the pain and sometimes that pain can also involve remembering incidences that may be buried deep in the psyche.
Unfortunately, using techniques to avoid pain only works for a short while, until eventually the techniques used, become harmful and destructive.
It can become destructive not only to the addict but also with regards any family and friends involved.
Once the addict becomes fully focused and obsessed on where their next drink or fix will come from, any connection or relationship slowly becomes lost – unless it is with someone who can supply them with their next drink or their next fix and so on.
And family and friends often report that they have become symbolically ‘drunk with the alcoholic’ or addict.
In other words, people living with an addict begin to worry and focus on whether the addict will come home or indeed come home drunk, aggressive or violent.
Any connection to an addict will feel like you are strapped to an emotional ticking time bomb.
And addictions are a progressive emotional disorder. It may starts innocently but it can become an ‘out of control raving demon’.
But what the addict fears, they create. Fearing rejection, abandonment and so on, they create situations which reinforce their fears.
Being an addict keeps people at bay either emotionally or eventually physically too.
Fearing that they will never be loved, they recreate the situation they fear – by becoming unlovable as it were.
Many addicts eventually experience a loss of control and lack of self-worth to a point of self-loathing.
They set themselves up for failure and many are too scared to stop numbing their pain – fearing the lonely journey that doing this entails. So they prefer to hide their pain behind the addiction.
And so the cycle continues until maybe one day they can decide that enough is enough and they begin to seek help.
There Are Different Types Of Addicts and Addictions
There are different types of addicts and addictions.
It can afflict people of all ages, races, classes or professions.
Addictions can vary and addicts can vary.
For example an alcoholic may only need one drink a week or a day, others may need a lot more.
What and how the addict is addicted to can vary from person to person.
But people are not actually addicted to alcohol, drugs and so on – they are ultimately addicted to escaping reality.
By not wanting to feel, is not a replacement for reality.
And Gabor Maté, a Hungarian-born Canadian physician specialising in neurology, psychology and the treatment of addiction once wrote, “Addiction is the unconscious refusal to move through your own pain.”
It is certainly very sad to see people so addicted to running away from their inner pain – without realising that if they could just have enough courage to deal with their pain, it would take a lot less time, than all the years spent being an addict, feeling a failure, feeling unloved and possibly even wasting a life.
There are usually support groups available either where you live or even on the Internet if this is your only recourse.However please do not suffer alone. There is help out there you just ned to find what suits you best.
Alcoholics Anonymous And Narcotics Anonymous for example offer support programs.
Alcoholics Anonymous offers a 12 step program which is excellent, however often the original cause of the addiction, is not addressed. So my suggestion is that therapy is sought either alongside or after the program is ‘completed’.
And also, for those who are atheists or who have had religion pushed down their throats or indeed abused by religion, there are alternative programs depending on which country you live in.
© 2016 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace
In the next few Blogs I will discuss:
1) The impact an addict can have on their family and the effect it can have on children and their relationships.
2) And I will discuss the different types of addictions.
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