Reblog: What Does a Cure to Addiction Look Like?

by Dr. Henry Cloud

If you’ve turned on the news, or perhaps if you’ve scrolled through your social media feeds, you’ve seen stories related to the opioid crisis currently going on in this country. In some cases, maybe you’ve lost a friend or a loved one to an overdose, or you’re in a codependent relationship with someone who’s an addict.

What some may not understand about addiction is complex, and its intricacies are sometimes difficult to explain, but what we do know is that addiction is a compulsive physiological need for something: in other words, something that someone needs to survive. People are usually addicted to a specific substance, such as alcohol, heroin, pills, or food. But people can also feel addicted to activities, such as sex, gambling, work, destructive relationships, religiosity, achievement, and materialism. These substances and activities never satisfy, however, because they don’t deal with the real problem. We don’t really need alcohol, street drugs, or sex. We can live very well without these things.

However, we really do need relationship, and we cannot live very well without it. We have already seen what happens when it’s absent. With addiction, a real need is getting a false solution based on deceitful desires.

Curing addictions requires a return to sensitivity and humility. Addicted people must admit their powerlessness and their need for others, as well as soften their heart toward those they have injured and realized their deceitful desires. They are substitutes for some other need of the real self. An essential step in the healing of addictions is finding out the real need being masked by the deceitful desire. One of these real needs is attachment and bonding to others.

Emotionally isolated people can’t get relationship, so they go for something else. They convince themselves that they want food, the sex, or the pills, and they order their whole life around it. But they really need their emptiness to be filled up with loving feelings and connections with other people.

When the inner hunger for relationship is filled with love, then the driving force behind many addictions goes away. Not all addictions come from isolation, but many do. If someone cannot bond with another person, they will bond with a prostitute’s body, a bottle, a half-gallon of ice cream, all the while going relationally hungry inside.

One client I had who struggled with food addiction put it this way. “I remember the first time I chose to call someone instead of eat. I could feel the strong pull toward the refrigerator, but I interpreted that as a pull toward love. So I called someone from my support group. After going over to her house and feeling some real affection, some warmth, I wasn’t hungry anymore. Since that time, I’ve learned to do that more. I’m finding out it’s not really food I want at those times. It’s love.”

Find the original article here.

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