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Cure #15: When You Just Can't Stop: How to Identify Addictive Behavior

Getting Off the Addiction Train

What is Addiction? Most think that "addicts" are those who are "hooked on drugs or alcohol". Yet addiction is much more that that... people can become addicted to prescription medicine, cigarettes (nicotine), coffee/soda (caffeine), sugar, work, gambling, exercise, shopping, sex, relationships, etc.

Are You an Addict? How to know if you are addicted to any particular "thing" is by answering the following nine questions about it... honestly:

1> Can you stop doing "the thing" you suspect/others have told you that you are addicted to for a day, a week, a month, a year, or forever?

2> Does the thought of your stopping doing "the thing" for a short time cause you any physical discomfort, mental anguish, or emotional anxiety?

3> Would your stopping doing "the thing" cause you to be "less yourself"?

4> Have you tried and failed to stop doing "the thing" in the past?

5> Do you know that doing "the thing" does not serve you and/or is causing problems in your life (at home, at work, in the community)?

6> Have you lost friends or alienated family members or irritated coworkers because you keep on doing "the thing" no matter what?

7> Have you or are you putting your life at risk by doing "the thing"?

8> Deep down inside, do you really want to keep on doing "the thing"?

9> Does "the thing" control you or do you control "the thing"?

And the Answer is: When you cannot stop doing "the thing". When the thought of what would happen by not doing "the thing" scares you. When "the thing" becomes who you are. When you keep failing at breaking free from "the thing". When "the thing" starts ruining your life. When "the thing" is more important to you than family or friends. When you consistently put your life at risk to do "the thing". When deep down you hate "the thing" but cannot let it go.
Then, my friend, "the thing" is in control of you and you are an addict.

"One medical definition of an addiction is an uncontrollable dependence on a substance, habit or practice. An addict experiences a severe emotional or physical reaction once they were to stop the activity."

How Does Addiction Happen? One way to prevent or treat an addiction is to understand why it occurs. Doug Dorman, substance abuse counselor for CIGNA Behavioral Health, Inc., a subsidiary of CIGNA Corporation, explains it this way:

"When something makes us feel good, there is a biochemical release in the brain, this feeling or 'high'... is also experienced by an addict. In addition to the high produced by the addictive behavior, the pursuit of an activity and the excitement of evading spouses, parents, bill collectors or employers can be equally satisfying to an addict. For example, some addicts have said they got more of a high from the process of stealing for and chasing down the drug than they did from using it."

From the standpoint of karma and reincarnation, addictions happen like this.

The past life resonance (a pattern of behavior inherited from past lives) is stored in a person's cellular memory from birth. As the individual matures in their new incarnation, they usually (not always) receive many opportunities to "address" the past life resonance in a more gentle and harmonious manner. When they reach the age where "addiction" becomes possible (even infants can become addicts if their mother was "using" during pregnancy), the past life resonance either hook them onto the path of addiction or that resonance is released from the body.

Addictions are always highly karmic in nature. In the case of an infant born addicted, this is karma pure and simple that the individual has to work off. The later in life the addiction occurs, the more chances the individual was given beforehand to resolve their karma more peacefully and harmoniously.

So there is no such thing as a "sudden addiction". The onset of the addiction may seem sudden to the person and to those around them... but there was always a pattern of events leading up to the addiction which made it necessary. If you are an addict and are honest with yourself, you will know the truth of these words.

What is the "Cycle of Addiction"? "Regardless of the type of addiction a person has, they will probably go through the following cycle: feeling good, a loss of control, repetition and then a feeling of denial."

The "Cycle of Addiction" operates in the following pattern:

* The addictive substance or action produces a "high" or "desired" mood change.
* The addict organizes their life around the addictive activity
......(getting it, experiencing it, withdrawing from it).
* The behavior continues despite problems it causes for the addict in their life:
......(work, home, community).
* The addict denies that they have a "problem" despite evidence to the contrary.
* The "desired" mood change "wears off": the addict begins to crave their "next fix".
* The craving becomes unendurable for the addict and they get "high" again
......and so it goes.

What are the Warning Signs of an Addiction? If you or someone you care about has started to display the following warning signs of addiction, please seek out professional help:

* Dramatic Mood Swings
    (moving from abnormally happy to sad in short periods of time)
* Change in "Personal Habits"
    (someone normally neat becoming a total slob, etc)
* Change in "Interests"
    (someone suddenly losing interest in long time hobbies/activities)
* Change in "Associates"
    (changing friends to those with substance abuse problems)
* Financial Difficulties
    (always "broke", always needing "cash" for debts that never end)
* Legal Difficulties
    (people never in trouble with authorities, having run-ins with the "law")
* Missing Time at Work
    (people full of "lame excuses" for absences from work/school)
Becoming Physically or Verbally Abusive
    (especially if they were normally "quiet")
* Social Isolation
    (always trying to "hide" whatever it is they are now doing from others)

In general, whenever a person radically changes their whole complex of behavior for "the worse" they are addicted. Note that when they suddenly change their behavior for "the better", they may be a "walk-in".

Who is Most "At Risk" for Addiction? Those "at greater risk" for addictive behavior are those with the following "factors":

Physical: Biological, includes genetics: addictions run in families; low resistance to drugs.
Mental: Psychological, includes low self-esteem, depression, and feelings of powerlessness.
Emotional: Situational, includes those seeking escape from grief over the loss of loved ones.
Social: Situational, includes isolation from family, empty nest, relocation from long residence.

At certain times in life, people may be more vulnerable to addictive behavior. The more one needs comfort, escape from unpleasant situations, and solutions from "outside themselves", the greater the risk for addiction.

Taking this one step further, I am of the firm opinion that those who tend to be addictive are unable to feel God's love for themselves. Lacking this warmth, they seek it elsewhere. Yet all that lies at the bottom of the bottle or the end of the needle is pain and emptiness... take it from one who knows.

So How Can an Addict Fight Addiction? Once a habit has become destructive, a person needs to:

* Admit that they have a problem and immediately get help from others (professionals are recommended).
* With this help, identify all the changes necessary to stop or alter the addictive pattern of behavior.
* Set a plan of action and a timetable by which the person will replace old unwanted addictive behaviors with new desirable activities.
* Be patient with the process: it is important to remember that recovering from an addiction takes time.
* Expect setbacks: everyone makes mistakes, all that matters is how one responds to them and moves on.
* Seek out and find God's love: no one need look further than their own heart to find it was there all along.

Credits: adapted from "CIGNA's Well-Being Newsletter"



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