You may have heard the expression, “A rose, is a rose, is a rose.” The same holds true for addiction. An addiction, is an addiction, is an addiction. There are many different kinds of addiction, but they are all one of the same.
We’ve been conditioned to think that an addiction is something to which a person has become hooked. Most of us can see the obvious, a non-stop drinker or smoker, a compulsive gambler, a food or heroin addict. But addiction is not something outside of a person; it’s a condition that resides inside of every addict’s mind.
An Invisible Hole
Addiction is what I refer to as the “invisible hole,” an emptiness — a feeling that something is missing. That void is always searching for something to fill it, but nothing ever can. Whether it be food, sex, substances, video games, or anything else, the emptiness is masked, but never goes away. In fact, the more the void is ignored and medicated with an addiction, the stronger the void becomes.
Eventually, the only thought in an addict’s mind is the next quick fix — whatever it is. The invisible hole doesn’t care about the fix; any means of distraction, temporary high, or numbing out will do. That’s why there’s only one addiction. If someone goes to treatment and stops one addiction, the void will simply find something else to replace it.
A recovering food addict stops binging and switches to alcohol. A drug addict gets treatment and starts drinking alcohol. A cigarette smoker switches to sugar. The addiction keeps moving from one fix to the next; porn, or shopping, or gambling, or anything else that masks the awful empty feeling.
Failure to recognize the one addiction is the primary cause of failed treatment. Until the void is addressed, the addiction keeps hopping around.
The Missing Link
The addict is not wrong to keep searching; something is missing. The only problem is that there isn’t a drink or a drug or anything else on the planet that is going to fill the invisible hole.
Every addiction is a substitute for love, and love is the only thing that will heal the need to compulsively self-medicate.
People often ask, “What does that mean to love yourself?” Imagine that you are taking care of a very young child. If that child were hungry, you would provide healthy food. If lonely, time, and conversation. If bored, playtime, or a hobby. If in need of affection, lots of kisses and hugs. If overwhelmed, rest, and time alone. You wouldn’t be offering a four-year-old a beer or a cigarette or a crack pipe; in fact, you’d think that was absurd.
Yet, that’s precisely what the addiction tells you to do to feel better. So, the first step of learning self-love is basic physical and emotional self-care.
The next important step is to learn how to love other people. It’s a paradox that the more love you share, the more you will receive.
Misery might love company, but most company won’t enjoy someone else’s misery. Sharing positive energy — compliments, successes, and an optimistic outlook is more appealing than negativity.
Good friendships are a solid foundation for stability. Too often, a recovering person attaches to a romantic or a co-dependent relationship at the exclusion of everyone else, just another addiction. If the “You and me against the world” scenario fails, relapse is inevitable.
People are meant to be together and to share and receive love. There is no lasting fulfillment from being solely in the receiving role. Though it may seem counterintuitive at times, giving of one’s energy, time, and material things, will create far greater joy than withholding out of some type of perceived lack.
Each person can define for themselves how to provide self-love without substituting an addiction. I have a list of 105 ways to which I keep increasing.* Every time my mind told me to use something, I looked at the list. Eventually, I didn’t even think about addiction, and now the thought of doing anything harmful to myself is entirely exempt from my thought process.
If you want to be cured of addiction, you can be. The next time your mind tells you to reach for something, recognize that it is a substitute for love. Then instead of doing something that will harm you, decide instead to do an act of self-love.
Once the search is for love instead of substitutes, it won’t take long for that empty feeling to be filled with a sense of joy and purpose.
Join the Movement
To find out more about Dr. Marks’ unique approach to draining the value out of any addiction visit https://drdonnamarks.com/etm/ and receive a FREE copy of her award-winning book “Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure.” (You just cover shipping and handling).
About The Author:
Donna Marks is an educator and licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor in Palm Beach, Florida. She has worked with over 6,000 clients. Donna’s struggle with addiction brought her to a worldwide search for healing. She became licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987. In 1989, she earned a Doctorate Degree in Adult Education, then became Certified in Addictions, Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy. Donna developed an award-winning addiction training program at Palm Beach Community College. She co-owned an outpatient treatment program and is a consultant to treatment centers. Donna is the author of the multi-award-winning, Exit the Maze-One Addiction, One Cause, One Cure, and created an online course for people who want to be cured of addiction.
Donna is a public speaker and has shared her methods with hundreds of thousands of listeners on podcasts and radio shows.
www.drdonnamarks.com 561–436–9360 firstname.lastname@example.org
*For a copy of the list, email your request to email@example.com