Addiction: a Shortcut to Happiness?

Addiction is an attempt to make emotional sense out of life. Addicts believe on an emotional level that they are being fulfilled. The trance created by acting out an addiction is .. a time in which they feel alive and complete.

Over the years, addiction has been described in many different ways - as a moral weakness, a lack of willpower, an inability to face the world, a physical sickness, and a spiritual illness. However, addiction can be more accurately described and defined in the following way:

Nearly all human beings have a deep desire to feel happy and to find peace of mind and soul. At times in our lives, most of us find this wholeness of peace and beauty, but then it slips away, only to return at another time. When it leaves us, we feel sadness and even a slight sense of mourning. This is one of the natural cycles of life, and it’s not a cycle we can control.

To some extent, we can help these cycles along, but for the most part they are uncontrollable - all of us must go through them. We can either accept these cycles and learn from them or fight them, searching for elusive happiness.

Addiction can be viewed as an attempt to control these uncontrollable cycles. When addicts use a particular object, such as a substance or an event to produce a desired mood change, they believe they can control these cycles, and at first they can. Addiction, on its most basic level, is an attempt to control and fulfill this desire for happiness.

Addiction must be viewed as a process that is progressive. It needs to be seen as an illness that undergoes continuous development from a definite, though often unclear, beginning, toward an end point.

Whether it is an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or shopping, all addictions and addictive processes have the same thing in common: the out-of-control and aimless searching for wholeness, happiness, and peace through a relationship with an object or event. No matter what the addiction is, every addict engages in a relationship with an object or event in order to produce a desired mood change, state of intoxication, or trance state.

For example:

The alcoholic experiences a mood change while drinking at the local bar.

The food addict experiences a mood change by binging or starving.

The addictive gambler experiences a mood change by placing bets on football games and then watching the action on television.

The shoplifter experiences a mood change when stealing clothing from a department store.

The sex addict experiences a mood change while browsing in a pornographic bookstore.

The addictive spender experiences a mood change by going on a shopping spree.

The workaholic experiences a mood change by staying at work to accomplish another task even though he or she is needed at home.

Although all of the objects or events described are very different, they all produce desired mood changes in the addicts who engage in them, and they all have core similarities.

Addiction is an attempt to make emotional sense out of life. Addicts believe on an emotional level that they are being fulfilled. The trance created by acting out an addiction is often described by addicts as a time in which they feel alive and complete. This is especially true in the earlier stages of the addiction process.

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Understanding Addiction

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