Importance of Understanding the Root of Addiction
Those people who enjoy gardening will know that if they don’t remove the root of a weed it will just keep coming back. This same logic applies to many other areas of life. If a person is having problems in life they need to get to the underlying cause of it. Just dealing with the symptoms is usually not enough because the root will cause new weeds to pop up elsewhere.
Those people who hope to escape from addiction need to get to the root of the problem or they will always be at risk of relapse. This does not mean that the individual needs to understand the reasons for everything that happened to them. What it does mean is that they must get to root of the maladaptive behavior and eradicate this. So for example, if the individual fell into addiction because they were struggling to cope with life they will need to create effective coping strategies for the future.
Reasons Why People Fall Into Addiction
There are many possible reasons for why people can fall into addiction including:
- It is suggested that some people have an addictive personality and this makes them more prone to this type of maladaptive behaviour.
- Some people suffer from a mental health condition, but they find that using alcohol or drugs makes them feel better – at least in the beginning. The individual may not even be aware that they have an underlying mental health condition such as depression.
- A common reason for why people initially begin experimenting with alcohol or drugs is peer pressure. They then find that they like the effects of these mind altering substances and this can put them on a path to addiction.
- Those individuals who suffer from low self esteem can find that alcohol and drugs gives them confidence. This temporary boost to self esteem comes with a heavy price and addicts have described the situation as, drugs gave me wings but then they took away the sky.
- Those individuals who grew up in a home where substance abuse took place may believe that such behaviour is normal. They may not be aware of the extent of the damage they are doing to their mental and physical health.
- It is suggested that genetic factors play a role in why people develop an addiction. If members of their family were addicts then this puts them more at risk of falling into the same behaviour.
Sometimes There Are No Obvious Reason for Addiction
It may not always be clear to the individual why they fell into addiction. They may view it as just something that happened to them – they kind of slipped into it unknowingly. It is not necessary for people to understand what led them to addiction in order to get to the root of the problem. Just like it is not necessary for gardeners to understand where weeds come from in order to eliminate their root. When the individual becomes sober they begin working on building a better life. In order to do this they will need to face and overcome any obstacle that comes in their way. In this way they will get to the root of their problems because progress will be impossible otherwise.
It has been suggested that the addictive personality may be the reason why many people fall into addiction. This refers to a number of character traits that are believed to make people more likely to turn to alcohol or drug use such as:
- The person has a habit of acting impulsively. They do things without considering the later consequences of their action.
- Low self esteem
- The individual has a subjective experience of a high degree of stress in their life.
- Antisocial tendencies.
- The person feels alienated from other people.
- They have a high tolerance for behaviour that would be considered deviant.
- This is a type of person who will tend to value nonconformity. For example, they may view it as rebelling against the system and therefore glamorous.
- These are usually people who have symptoms of anxiety or depression.
- They struggle to delay gratification.
- This type of person will tend to be prone to attention seeking behaviour
- They will usually feel highly insecure in their relationships – particularly in their romantic relationships.
If the individual continues to be led by these character traits in recovery it will cause them to relapse or fall into other maladaptive behaviours.
Addiction and Low Self Esteem
Those people who fall into addiction tend to have low self esteem to begin with. This means that they don’t value themselves very highly, and this makes it easier for them to accept the misery of addiction. When this individual first begins the substance abuse they will feel more confident and self assured, but this doesn’t last. As addiction takes hold the individual will have in more reasons to feel bad about their life. It can get to the stage where this person really wants to stop the behaviour, but they don’t believe they deserve any better. If this person somehow manages to get sober they can carry this low self esteem with them, and this could be the seed of their undoing later on.
Addiction and Dual Diagnosis
A dual diagnosis refers to a situation where an individual has another mental health problem alongside their addiction. It may have been undiagnosed symptoms of depression or other mental illness that drove the individual to experiment with alcohol and drugs in the beginning. In the beginning these substance can seem to be helping but they actually make the situation much worse. This is referred to as self medication, and it is a common reason for why people fall into addiction. It is also possible for the individual to develop a dual diagnosis as a result of their alcohol and drug abuse.
Dangers of Not Getting to the Root of Addiction
If the reasons for why the individual turned to alcohol or drugs continue to exist it is dangerous because:
- It means that they will be more likely to relapse back to their addiction.
- It will drive them towards other maladaptive behaviours.
- They will continue to find life difficult. Even if they manage to stay sober they are unlikely to find real happiness.
- Failure to make progress means that the individual become stuck, and that is never a good position to be in.
How to Get to the Root of Addiction
Getting to the root of addiction means the individual takes action that will ensure that they never fall into this maladaptive behaviour again. This could involve:
- Developing emotional sobriety so that they no longer feel the need to hide from life. Those who have this type of maturity are highly unlikely to fall into maladaptive patterns of behaviour.
- Those individuals who have a dual diagnosis will need to have both conditions treated.
- In order to be better able to deal with life on life’s terms the individual will need to develop effective coping strategies.
- Learning the facts about the dangers of substance abuse can help get to root of lack of information. Some people do engage in substance abuse because they don’t know any better.
- Once people become sober the individual needs to begin chipping away at the character flaws that led them into addiction. By doing this they will be moving away from the addictive personality that may have been the driving force behind their maladaptive behaviour.
- A therapist is trained in the art of getting to the root of personal problems. This professional can guide the individual and offer them support in overcoming these issues.
- Contemplative techniques such as mediation can allow the individual to dig deep into their own psyche. This can mean that they have a much better idea of their inner drives.
- It is vital that the individual begins repairing their own self esteem. They can do this by setting small goals and achieving these – small goals will eventually lead to bigger goals and increased self esteem.
- If people find it hard to resist peer pressure they will need to investigate why this is so. The best advice in recovery is usually to keep contact with drinking or drugging friends to a bare minimum.
- There is not much that people can do about their genetic inheritance, but this does not mean that the individual needs to accept addiction as their lot. A genetic predisposition towards alcohol or drug abuse is just further evidence that the individual must abstain from alcohol and drug use.
- It is recommended that people treat their recovery like a journey. Their goal is to get as far away from addiction as possible, and this means eliminating those things that led to behaviour.
- People in recovery are reminded that it is all about progress and not perfection. They are not expected to get to the root of their addiction right away – it can take decades to complete this work.
Hope Trust: Intensive and long-term therapy helps
At Hope Trust, clients are urged to write their ‘autobiography’. This helps them identify elements in their personality and behaviour patterns that have long been embedded. Thereafter, their whole life patterns are analysed, relationships reviewed, damages identified and goals set. This and other therapy techniques during the intensive and long term inpatient program prepares them or a new and healthier direction in life.