Do you know someone with an addiction? I’ve known a few. It could be an addiction to gambling, to alcohol, smoking, food, sex, even to work. My wife claims that I MUST be addicted to reading, ‘cuz I buy so many books. Would you believe that ALL addictions have the same root cause? From my point of view, unless I can treat that root cause, the problem is not going to go away. Like the game of Whack a Mole, as soon as the patient clears one addiction, another pops up in its place. A man cured of a smoking addiction may take up chewing. A woman cleared of a food addiction may take up gambling. There’s a common cause here, so let’s start at the beginning.
What’s the difference between a habit and an addiction? Both involve doing something repetitively. I’m sitting at home right now, in my stocking feet. Soon I’m going out to the mailbox for the mail. When I put on my shoes, my left shoe always goes on first. If for some reason I want to put on my right shoe first, I could write a little note to myself and put it by my shoes. That will remind me to change that habit. On the other hand, when I drive to Granite Falls, the road leads past the Prairie’s Edge casino. If I HAD to pull into the casino and spend an hour playing the slots, if I could NOT pass by that turnoff without the excitement of the slots, that’s an addiction. Everyone has habits. Some have addictions. What do you do if an addiction is messing up your life?
For me, an addiction is something done to quell an anxious feeling. Frequently the anxiety comes from the person’s early history. Clients have shared that the reason for their addiction is a history of sexual abuse when they were very young. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACE) examined the medical histories of more than 17,000 adults, and found direct connections between unresolved childhood emotional trauma and several physical conditions as adults. These include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, bone fractures, depression and drug use. Compared to a person without childhood trauma, a person with high numbers of adverse childhood experiences is three times more likely to smoke and thirty times more likely to commit suicide. Physician and author Dr. Gabor Mate’ writes, “In most cases of breast cancer, the stresses are hidden and chronic. They stem from childhood experiences, early emotional programming and unconscious psychological coping styles. They accumulate over a lifetime to make someone susceptible to disease... Research suggests that women are more prone to develop breast cancer if their childhoods were characterized by emotional disconnection from their parents or other disturbances in their upbringing; if they tend to repress emotions, particularly anger; if they lack nurturing social relationships in adulthood; and if they are the altruistic, compulsively caregiving types...” (p.63 ff, The Tapping Solution, Nick Ortner, Hay House, 2013).
To release the anxiety may take several hours of emotional housecleaning with a good therapist. If you get rid of those old emotions, you will probably find it much easier to quit smoking, overeating, overdrinking or other addictions. Hypnosis helps, EFT is faster and often equally effective. Many cases should be resolvable in a couple of days. When you’ve cleaned the dust bunnies and monsters out of your emotional closets, you may find that your addiction is gone, too!