Are there substances, things or people in your life that you need to have on a regular basis? It could be as simple as your morning coffee or as complicated as an affair you can’t give up even though it could destroy your family. The addictive substances or people we turn to for bliss can have more control over us than we do.

Causes of addictions

Addictions are based on loss. If you have an addiction, chances are that at some time you had a great sense of loss and separation from God that deeply affected your self-esteem. The greater the loss, the more severe the addiction, such as a person who loses their innocence from sexual abuse and, over the years, eats herself into health problems to bury the shame. In the process of avoiding feeling we can destroy the self or the body that houses the self, blindly trying to destroy the pain that sits below the surface always trying to come up for healing. No matter how hard we try, it seems we can never quite fill the hole left by trauma or enjoy our inherent natural sense of bliss.

A child naturally feels connected, for wholeness (connection) gives a continuous sense of fulfillment and joy. A child can have a tantrum one minute and be laughing and happy the next, fully present with his or her feelings. As the child is traumatized by abuse, the pain may become too big. The child may begin to shut down to his or her natural joy (God). In the separation from natural joy and the loss of self-esteem that abuse creates, we begin to look outside for something to relieve the pain and restore the bliss.

Society’s role in addiction

Unfortunately, we have an addictive society. Nearly everyone has an abuse problem. People abuse each other and then reach for something to stop the guilt, shame and pain. Mass media marketing offers us a myriad of things to buy or use in order to avoid unpleasant feelings, though most of these products only lead us into more addiction. When we avoid our feelings, they build in intensity. We’re programmed to avoid bad feelings. Prescription drug commercials offer us ways out of feeling. These drugs are socially acceptable but emotionally or physically addictive nonetheless. From tennis shoes to video games, the message comes across: Feel good all the time: buy our product.

Types of addictions

Even if you don’t have a chemical problem like cocaine or coffee, you could be addicted to TV, shopping, food, sex, video games, a person, place, religion or just “being right.” We all have false gods. Even religion can be a false god if you use religion to get power over others or avoid feelings.

With every addiction, even religious addiction, there’s a sense of separation from God. Addiction is always a spiritual issue. This is why Alcoholics Anonymous is so effective. AA helps people remember their natural connection to God, a connection that restores the natural sense of goodness, bliss and fulfillment. (AA principles will work on any addiction, not just severe chemical problems.)

Anything that allows us to avoid feelings could become an obsession. Most addictions are rooted in our very way of being. Active addiction destroys self-esteem. Held in secret, shame eats away at the self like a parasite; it takes all your nutrition (esteem) and you become malnourished and weak (no self-control). Even small addictions we don’t own up to can ruin self-esteem because the “need” constantly tells us we are weak. We try to stop but we have to have it (or feelings come up) so we can’t stop. It looks as if we have no self-control. Even though society encourages addiction and will help you become addicted, we still view addicted people as broken. (Obviously they had to be weak to be broken.) Over the last 20 years, however, this view has been changing. More people have come out of the closet about their trauma-based addictions. When shame, pain, fear and separation are faced and worked through, addiction dissolves and self-esteem rises.

The spiritually healthy person

In a spiritually healthy person, self-esteem is high. Loss is integrated easily because there’s a natural sense of fullness. In a healthy garden, you can pick all the flower blooms one day and a few days later the flowers start to bloom again even more profusely. Healthy people are fulfilled and healthy at the core. They feel they’re enough, have enough, do enough. They don’t avoid their feelings. They feel them and move on. In that way, they don’t accumulate. There’s a natural sense of fullness (God) in their lives. People or things moving out of their lives don’t destroy them.

How to clear yourself of addictions

Clearing the abuse and trauma from our souls can be challenging, but at the same time very fulfilling. Developing self-control gives a great feeling of accomplishment. The first step is to stop avoiding our feelings. Next, we need to clear the old pain and traumas out of our mind and body. This can be accomplished in many different ways. AA meetings are effective, as are emotional release techniques such as rebirthing, drumming, a good seminar or counselling sessions, NLP, some forms of kinesiology or martial arts workouts. Sometimes, in the process of changing your mind, emotional charge is transmuted or transcended, such as when you forgive someone.

Looking at what you believe causes your constant upset is helpful. Working through feelings instead of numbing them can change your life. Accepting the fact that life isn’t supposed to always feel good no matter what illusions mass media creates puts you into realistic expectations and emotional intelligence.

The simple process of conscious awareness of God—moment by moment turning to our higher power through simple prayer—also turns on the inner light and fills us. The more we work to clear our addictions, the less our children will inherit them and the more society ceases to be addictive.

Read another approach to dealing with addiction in 12 STEPS OF LIBERATION: Recover from addiction using this adaptation of the four noble truths and the eightfold path

Jackie Kosednar was the publisher of Alaska Wellness until her death in 2012 and author of the book, One Miracle After Another. Reposted with kind permission from Alaska Wellness.

image: kphotographer (Creative Commons BY-SA)