Addictions and escaping pain

Feb 10, 2022
Have you ever thought that humans are the only animal on the planet that has addictions? I have. 
Any behaviour that a person finds temporary pleasure or relief in, and then craves and indulges in again as a result, and continues to repeat despite NEGATIVE life consequences, is an addiction. I find it fascinating that in our society addictions can look respectable, standard, or even celebrated, from the outside - consider patterns of addiction with work, profits, power, exercise, certifications, fame, social media, TV or other devices, shopping, gaming, gambling, nicotine, caffeine, drugs, alcohol, food, eating, sex, pornography, and more. 
If you work 80hours a week you get a pat on the back, a few glasses (or bottle!) of wine each night is ‘just socialising’, a joint to ‘wind down’ at the end of a big day is totally acceptable, a bag of cocaine every weekend just turns the party up, another certificate proves how clever you are, another gym session shows how fit you are, sending and receiving messages/emails/calls validates your importance, if you’re constantly on the path of healing and self-development you’re worthy, and so on.  
Bizarrely there is also a great inequality in the stigmatism of addicts, and addiction. Heroin and meth get a much worse rap than alcohol or cigarettes, for instance - perhaps because two are legalised, profits are legalised, and two are not? 
What is clear is that addictions can impact every person, irrespective of perceived class, race, religion, or socioeconomic status.
The beginning of any negative life consequences due to addiction is always disengagement and disconnection - from the signals in your own body, to your inner wisdom and intuition, to the engaged connection between your body, mind and spirit.
This overflows into disengagement and disconnection with those around you.
Relationships to any area of life can suffer as a result. When you ask any addict why they do what they do, despite the consequences their addiction is having, common answers always include;
Relief from life “Fill the void”
Avoidance of self
Numbing from pain Distraction from truth
Escape from suffering
Comforting from uncomfortable
A type of courage to express self
A type of connection from isolation 
Addictions help the addict feel that the burden of life is not so heavy anymore. At the same time, paradoxically, self-judgement amplifies. We use our addiction to get away from something, or to try and meet something that we don’t feel able to deal with alone.
Studying the biology and physiology of trauma patterns and imprints from pre-birth onwards makes it very clear is that addiction is a temporary attempt to - in a short term way - deal with the impacts of trauma, to avoid underlying emotional/mental/physical/spiritual pain, to create a fleeting sense of ease in a body that has never truly known or embodied a true, deep, felt sense of connection and belonging - both within self, and without, with others, in society, in the world. 
Addiction patterns, or learned coping techniques installed as survival mechanisms, are always disruptive, they create disharmony, dissonance, dis-ease, isolation, and add to the burden of toxic shame. No doubt you can see, feel and hear how easily the addiction cycle loops under these circumstances. 
Although there are no specific genes for addiction, there are certainly impacts on genes (such as methylation and acetylation changes handed down generationally or environmentally/nutritionally influenced at conception onwards) and changes in brain structure and brain waves that can create heightened sensitivity and reactivity to life, both in childhood and throughout the lifespan.  
This sensitivity creates a susceptibility to even greater impacts from trauma, both physiologically and psychologically, that can neurobiologically wire a person towards addiction and other states of dis-ease.
Addictions are a trauma pattern. They start as a wonderful relief, a way of surviving and obscuring uncomfortable or intolerable experiences or emotions, and can turn into self-destructive behaviours that change the trajectory of life.
After all the study I have done, and after my own lived experience of numerous addictions spanning over 20years, I now view addictions as gifts, as guides to help us lean into those fragmented parts of self so we can learn more about who we truly are, and who we could one day wholly be.
This remembering of the truth of who we are is why I always feel deeply honoured to be able to help guide others in addiction transformation, and in transforming trauma into triumph. 
As psychiatrist Kelly Brogan so eloquently says “suffering ends when meaning begins”, and I believe that meaning begins with compassionate self inquiry. From that place we can move into forgiveness, resilience, and courage to change, from self-centeredness to other-centeredness.  
For a person to feel safe enough to begin compassionate self-inquiry the body itself requires resources. It must feel safe, internally. We can create that safety through building interoceptive awareness (the ability to perceive and interpret body signals) at the same time we build physical integrity and reduce toxin through physiological resources such as nutrients. 
A vital, foundational place to start with transforming addiction, and improving nutrient assimilation through our digestive system, is building a relationship with our nervous system, our sense of self.
All the patterns and habits in our body are held within this system, and we can start initiating intentionality and presence with our automated nervous system responses through some simple somatic practises.
You can learn more about these, plus so much more, in Part 1 of my nervous system courseThis is need-to-know information to support yourself, or another. See you in class!
Pia xx