Stu's Beyond Addiction Blog

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Symptom or Problem?


Symptom or Problem?

People sometimes think that with an alcohol, drug problem or a process addiction like gambling, sex addiction or porn addiction that the addiction itself is the problem and yes it is certainly a problem but more accurately the addiction is just the coping mechanism and a symptom that an individual acts out with to avoid the real problem.The real problem is a series of behaviours and characteristics that all together represent a human condition that…


Symptom or Problem? 

People sometimes think that with an alcohol, drug problem or a process addiction like gambling, sex addiction or porn addiction that the addiction itself is the problem and yes it is certainly a problem but more accurately the addiction is just the coping mechanism and a symptom that an individual acts out with to avoid the real problem.The real problem is a series of behaviours and characteristics that all together represent a human condition that keeps a person cycling through guilt and shame and if done in awareness can only offer up the same result – the need to ‘use’ or act out. The Acting out suppresses or sedates the person’s guilt and shame and so is only a temporary fixative. The work done in therapy is what is needed to process feelings and thoughts so that peace can be reached and a space where drugs and behaviours are no longer required. The shared characteristics that need to be worked on with addicts in therapy include; poor tolerance for frustration, low self esteem, problems with authority figures, problems with responsibility, poor impulse control, unrealistic expectations on people places and things, difficulty coping with feelings, self deception, manipulation and guilt.

Guilt is one of the major feelings that needs attention if one is to stop the addictive cycle. When thoughts and feelings can be talked about in therapy and released there is less reason to feel guilty and thus integrity and confidence grow and in addition self-esteem rises, a person becomes more principled and manipulates less, gets less frustrated and more patient and ultimately is able to contain and express feelings where appropriate, get needs met, be more authentic, drop fronts and finally can start engaging in healthy relationships with others and with oneself. In essence when these behaviours are focussed on and worked through self esteem grows, the need to use decreases and a person potentially finds more peace and happiness.

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