Struggling With Addiction? Get to the Root
Unless you learn to cope with life, addiction may always be present.
BY: Dr. Linda Mintle
When a family member has an addiction but refuses to address the underlying problems of that addiction, the addiction does not go away. It may remit temporarily, but the same issues that led the person to escape and avoid through substances eventually return.
Yet, so many people who struggle with addiction do not want to address the underlying issues. Why? Because doing so often creates emotional pain and distress. When those negative feelings are felt, the urge to self-medicate is intense. And unless the person develops new coping methods, embraces distress and learns to tolerate it, he or she will return to the addiction.
Here is an example. And addict grows up in a family that is conflict avoidant. Every time he comes up against a conflict, he has no skills to resolve it, becomes angry and blames others. Since he lacks coping skills (problem-solving, negotiation, emotional regulation, etc.), he retreats to self-medication through the addiction. He wants to avoid the pain felt with the conflict.
Then he feels bad and tries to stop using, but doesn’t address his problems with conflict and anger. So he is clean for a few weeks, but life happens. Another conflict presents. He gets angry and avoids the conflict, blaming others and feeling like a victim. He uses. And the cycle repeats.
Thus, treating the addiction means facing those painful and difficult areas of your life. It is a choice to surrender to God, become an open book and deal with underlying hurt and pain.
With Christ, you have the promise that God is with you through it all. When you lean on Him to face pain and tackle problems head on, you can get to the root issues. God will help you build tolerance for distress and regulate powerful emotions. Most of all, He can heal those parts that you try to medicate. In your weakness, He is strong. His love and power enable you to face difficulty rather than escape and avoid through addiction.
Read more at Dr. Linda's blog Doing Life Together on Beliefnet.