Tag Archives: addictions

Having addicted mind is like being trapped in self created illusions

According to World Health Organization around 31 million people have drug use disorders. Harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths each year, and it causes more than 5% of the global disease burden. These are bare facts. The thought? What the hell is wrong with us, that we do it to ourselves – committing a veiled, stretched over time suicide?

The image of addiction we have is twofold and depends on the context – on the one hand we see a tramp, and on the other, the tragedy of an addicted ‘great man’. We despise the drunkard, and we sympathize with the great addicted man. His drinking is somehow “better”, even sanctified in a way. Yet it’s the same addiction.

When I was a teenage girl we all were full of rebel and urge for an infinite freedom, which sense we actually didn’t understand. We raised our eyes towards Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and many long haired screamers from heavy metal bands, who replaced gods for us. We read Blake, Ginsberg and Keourac, thinking that we are the next great generation like them, the beatniks of 90’s. We skipped classes, drank cheap wine and smoked pot. We ‘expanded our awareness’ by reaching for heavier drugs. That was our ‘fuck you world’ religion. And we thought we were the smartest in the world.

In fact, we were just a bunch of lost young people unable to cope with themselves. Trapped into myths, overwhelmed by our own fears, sorrows and weaknesses. No one taught us how to deal with them. Reaching for stimulants made everything easier. Especially when we’ve seen those we admired would do the same.

The cult of intoxication is old, and its correlation with artistry and the avant-garde has always been strong. Have you ever wonder how Baudelaire’s ‘Artificial Paradises’ was created?

I can’t escape the impression that addictions, in a way, are glorified by our society. There’s so many biographies of great people that are build upon this fatal base. A story with a tragic background sells better.

There is nothing like an artist bending under the pain of reality. A brilliant creature who can only deal with himself through drugs and loses – world can only regret a lost genius. So moving and romantic, Right? Wrong. It’s total bullshit.

When we gaze at drunken idols, we see only the splendor of fame. We don’t see them hungover or be in a bad mood and sleeping all day. Or puking, stinging, gibberishing, smelly from not washing themselves. It’s hidden behind a veil of a ‘tragedy’. But we don’t need more tragic idols. It’s time to disenchant addiction.

Of course there is no rule here – there are people more and less susceptible to addiction. I’d say those more vulnerable or lost in their reality fall first. Those who carry a great void within themselves. How long does it take for them to understand that this hole cannot even be flooded with an ocean of alcohol? Sometimes whole life. Sometimes never.

Long time ago I had a friend who was type of a guy everyone wanted to hang out with. Super cool in every aspect of his nailing existence – from long hair and a leather jacket to the twisted poems he wrote while on high. I remember once we were sitting at the edge of the park, it must have been in the late 90’s. Drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, talking. Beautiful moment, one of those which would happened so often when you’re 15 and you had that feeling that everything can happen in your life. That absolutely everything was possible. Listening to The Doors and Janis, we missed times we never got to know. We didn’t give a shit about school, parents and the world. We wanted to live like them, listen to music, lie in the meadow, smoke weed and sleep under the stars.

Jack died at the age of 40 five years ago. Cirrhosis. We didn’t keep in touch, but when I’ve seen him for the last time he was a destroyed human wreckage. He stopped writing poems, but unfortunately continued on cheap wine and god knows what else. He was nothing like Jim Morrison. He was more like those people who gather at railway stations to collect some money for drugs. Hope he’s having amazing Woodstock now, wherever he is.

I’m only in my middle 30s, but I have several friends at similar age who passed away because drug overdose or drinking. Why this is happening to us, aren’t we thinking creatures?

We can explain a lot by psychology. Studies show that we are directed by many processes happening in our subconscious mind. In the case of an addicted mind we’re dealing with rationalization, projection (projecting their own problems into someone else) and repression.

The addict’s logic is twisted. It makes them not see things as they are. Gives them ability to explain away their behavior by denial and cognitive dissonance (holding two or more contradictory beliefs). I have focused on this issue deeper here: https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/05/19/dealing-with-an-addicted-mind/

Addiction mechanisms make us slide slowly, lose our sense of self while we spiraleing deeper into void. It’s unbelievable how addicts are good at creating a reality where their destructive behavior is never the fault of the substance they overuse.

Would it be easier to deal with an addiction if we did not reach for stimulants so thoughtlessly? I don’t know the answer for that question. What I know for sure is that there are many myths about this that need to be faced.

Trapped mind: quite different addictions

IF YOU ASK ME WHAT THREATENS OUR DEVELOPMENT THE MOST, I WOULD TELL YOU WITHOUT BLINKING. THE TRAPS OUR MIND CAN GET CAUGHT IN. AND THERE ARE MANY OF THEM SET UP: ANXIETY, DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS, DEPRESSION, OCD, PHOBIAS, PSYCHOSIS, MANIA AND THE BIG ONE – ADDICTIONS – DOUBLY DEVIOUS BECAUSE THEY CAN APPLY NOT ONLY TO SUBSTANCES.

Another kind of high – brain on an emotional boost

The mechanism of any addiction remains same no matter what is the substance. And what interesting, it is still same, if there is no substance at all. Well, not in a physical form.

Every addiction causes specific reactions in the brain and is associated with impaired function of neurotransmitters and hormones, mainly in the structures of the reward system. Simply speaking, even if you don’t supply the brain with a specific substance, such as a drug, brain can still make it. All you need is the right stimulus. In this case, we can talk about behavioural addiction. Gambling, sex, internet, food and even falling in love – it can all be related to our internal emotional catastrophe. 

Much of addiction issues I’ve touched on already here: Dealing with an addicted mind. As this is very personal topic to me, I’d like go deeper into in areas which are less talked about.

Erotomania is not only sex addiction. Its variation is the ailment of being addicted to being in love. This is where a person needs that specific kick of pleasure – dopamine secreted by the brain – which equates to being high. Think, when you are falling in love you feel that an amazing inflow of pleasure and ecstasy. In a healthy mind, this evolves into a deeper feeling or simply disappears. For some, there is that the irresistible need to re-trigger it. And here we have a problem.

The phenomenon of sex addiction we refer to people who need closeness very much and are just as afraid of it, so they meet their needs by entering into relationships with the body of another person, and not with the ‘whole’ person. A quite different variation is the addiction to emotions that occur when falling in love.

behavioral addictions can be as toxic as those of substances such as alcohol or drugs

Toxic passion

Why is the mind so vulnerable to all these pitfalls? It all comes down to this big, empty hole that we carry within us. Some trying to feel it by overusing alcohol or drugs, some by food, self-harm or uncontrolled shopping, and others trying to fix it with compulsive falling in love. As it might seem innocent, can lead to serious complications in various areas of life.

Firstly, it is difficult for a person with such a problem to build a solid, valuable relationship. Because if something begins to fail, she ( I use this pronoun, as this issue is most common among women) runs away and falls in love elsewhere. Here, the partner is not the most important – it’s addictive emotions that take over. Secondly, the person is susceptible to becoming obsessed. And this can be very damaging to mental health.

Love obsession is also an addiction that brings inability to focus on other areas of life besides the obsession object. We are missing something, and we think that only thanks to the other person we can become complete. And, I know – who read in the nineteenth-century literature may perceive it as something very romantic. But trust me on this – it is essentially unhealthy and destructive. Remeber, even Werter shot himself in the head!;)

Quick fix for the broken soul

Compulsive behavior is one that gives us emotional satisfaction. Is an easy, but ineffective way to deal with what bothers us. It’s like sticking a broken vase with adhesive tape – it seems to stick, but when you pour water into it and put flowers, it will fall apart immediately. For any emotional disorders, there is only one way – working on emotions.

Ways to reconnect with your emotions

When we lose contact with ourselves, we also lose control over our lives. To recover it, we can take steps that will allow to connect with what is happening inside us. Some of the effective techniques to help reconnect with emotions are:

  • Meditation – silencing the mind and putting it in an alpha wave state – you can start with a few minutes a day and gradually deepen your practice. Meditation is about clearing the mind of thoughts and focusing simply on ‘being’.
  • Mindfulness – practicing being here and now – focus on everything that is inside and around you, contemplate reality, see what is happening in your body – what you feel and how you experience it: smells, flavors, sounds, colors, touch …
  • Journaling – make contact with yourself by keeping a diary of feelings – do not focus on the form, just write what you feel, what you think – pour on paper everything that sits in your heart and head. Is a great way to cleanse yourself of overwhelming emotions, as well as to awaken creativity.
  • Exam yourself – as you might think you know yourself very well, there might be parts of you that you’re not aware of. Or parts of you that have changed over the years. Commit to a journey of self-discovery. Make list of questions and answer them. Write it down and come back to it in some time. You can make a list of things you love to do. Things you hate, things that makes you nervous, things that scares you, excite you, amuse you. Play with it!
  • Name what you feel – sometimes it’s not easy to recognize what we feel. Even if you struggle to define your own feeling and emotions, try to name them. If you are unsure what are you feeling make up a name for it. As example- jealove can be a feeling towards a friend you admire, but you also envy him a little. You can create your own personal dictionary of feeling and it could be a fun!

Problem of emotional addiction is not black and white. If you feel that somehow it may affect you, you should look closer at yourself. Even if it touches you slightly, you can still be exposed to its toxic effects. No better way to deal with it, as learning to recognize everything that takes place within you.

/main photo by Nick Fewins on Unsplash/ Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash/