What is Addiction?
Addiction is many things to many different people.
In clinical terms, addiction is a physiological condition in
which the body craves certain sensations. Alcohol, drugs,
gambling, and sexual acts create a high or sense of
ecstatic pleasure, perhaps a feeling of "aliveness" that is
out of the norm for the addict. The chemical or act
momentarily releases the addict from the grip of his or her
feelings of deadness, self-hatred, stress, or even
boredom. Once the addict experiences the high, he or she
wants to return to that sensation — to being alive — at any
What are the Roots of Addiction?
The Two Levels
Essentially, most people operate on two levels — the ego
and the core. These two levels are typically separated by a
barrier that keeps the ego feeling superior and safe from
the underlying, core-level needs it refuses or is unable to
acknowledge. Addicts are typically cut off from their core
and thus feel they must do something, anything to get it
touch with it and feel momentarily alive.
Lack of Mirroring and the Hidden World
Humans need to feel special, appreciate, recognized, and loved. In other words, we need mirroring. No matter whether we deserve it
or not, we just need it — period. If a person does not get adequate mirroring early in life, or later in marriage, at work, or at school, the
core can develop a raging hunger that must be fed. Essentially, the core underneath runs a deficit, and the less the surface life
provides for the needs in the core, the more the flames of the hunger will be fanned.
Lack of mirroring devastates the self and leaves it feeling dead or walled-off. This creates a need for something to penetrate that wall,
or barrier, and create a momentary sense of life or freedom. Breaking through the barrier also helps an addict escape from physical or
emotional pain. But once the chemical wears off or the act is over, the barrier is put back in place and the viscous cycle continues. This
cycle necessitates a double life — up above the barrier and underneath it, in the core. The hidden life down in the core must be lived in
order to get the core-level needs met, but it also must remain hidden.
The Holocaust Self
Trauma and abuse also bears heavily on a person's fundamental feeling of self-hate or self-love. When a person endures trauma,
neglect, or systematic abuse to a significant degree, the Holocaust Self can form. The Holocaust Self is essentially a sense that "it
can't possibly get any worse." This extreme feeling of deadness leads to addiction at its absolute worst, when one reaches a point
where there is no concern for looks, no pride, and no dignity — only the all-consuming hunger and the insatiable need to dull the pain.
Nuclear Family Waste
Just as in a nuclear reactor, an unprotected core is very dangerous and requires shielding. Many children are exposed to their parents'
unprotected cores while growing up. Parents who are addicts do not take the responsibility to provide shielding between the rawness
of their own cores and the vulnerability of their children's cores, which do not yet have shielding. This exposure — nuclear family waste
— can be extremely damaging. The parents' drinking or drug use compromises the integrity of the barrier between their ego and their
untended, damaged care. Once in a drunk or high state, they have insulation from their own raw behaviors, but their children do not.
And like actual radiation, the effects do not always show immediately. They can literally take years to manifest and can lead to an
addiction that is rooted in the very issues that were not the children's to begin with.
What are the Challenges in Treating Addicts?
Getting at the roots of addiction can be very difficult, as an addict's defense system and filters are typically quite powerful. Finding
adequate support during and after the treatment process is difficult as well. Addicts tend to alienate their support system, other than
other users. They steal and manipulate in order to support their habit, burning many bridges along way and hurting their wives,
husbands, children, partners, parents, and friends. Crimes are often committed while intoxicated, which further complicates the
treatment picture, sometimes delaying treatment for years while the addict serves out a sentence. In addition, many addicts don’t want
to wake up and face the damage they did while addicted. It's easier to stay numb, because the garbage dump they create down in
their core grows larger the longer they are addicted.
What is the Justice System's View of Addiction?
Addiction is a factor in the majority of serious crime. Treating addiction more effectively would have a major effect on crime, the quality
of parenting for children of addicts, medical costs, and numerous other factors. Addiction treatment is a good investment, but some
levels of administration have difficulty taking a long-term view or are more focused on punishment. A higher and higher percentage of
those incarcerated are there on drug charges.
What is Society's View of Addiction?
More and more forms of addiction are receiving recognition and treatment. Unfortunately, there is a significant percentage of people
who don’t respond to treatment or who have gone through many times. Therefore, some addicts are considered hopeless, lost souls
who are destined for jail, insanity, or death.