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Addiction Patterns

Addiction Patterns

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Published by Michelle
Most addictions begin with the Feel-Good Factor, with things that make us feel better, and draw us up and out of our "normal" painful existence. But almost anything can become an addiction, especially when it serves this pattern and acts as a tool for resistance or avoidance of our internal pain. Even things that seem like they'd be worse, like self-cutting, or flagellation can become an addiction.
Most addictions begin with the Feel-Good Factor, with things that make us feel better, and draw us up and out of our "normal" painful existence. But almost anything can become an addiction, especially when it serves this pattern and acts as a tool for resistance or avoidance of our internal pain. Even things that seem like they'd be worse, like self-cutting, or flagellation can become an addiction.

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Published by: Michelle on Feb 15, 2008
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ADDICTION PATTERNSResistance and Avoidance
Most addictions begin with the Feel-Good Factor, with things that make us feel better, anddraw us up and out of our "normal" painful existence. But almost anything can become anaddiction, especially when it serves this pattern and acts as a tool for resistance or avoidanceof our internal pain. Even things that seem like they'd be worse, like self-cutting, or flagellationcan become an addiction.We may begin doing something for pleasure, or need, or dark fascination. But then wediscover "accidentally" (and usually unconsciously) that the behavior has a pay-off - it keepsour real pain far away from our consciousness. Then we begin to do the behavior less andless from desire and more and more for its ability to keep the pain away. It becomes anaddiction, and a compulsion. And like any addiction, soon we reach a place where smalllevels of the behavior don't work anymore, and we need to resort to greater ... and more ...and more often ... in order to keep the pain away.It doesn't matter whether it's drugs, alcohol, exercise, sex, movies, eating, not eating, people,knitting, or chewing your nails. When it becomes something you feel compelled to do, it's apattern. The key is to notice how you feel if you stop doing the behavior. Can you stop, first of all? If you can't, then you know you've got an addictive pattern running. If you can stop for brief periods, how do you feel? What's the first feeling that surfaces? Generally the first thingthat surfaces is a fear of 
feeling 
. It's the fear that says "If I stop doing XYZ and feel my pain,something bad will happen." The "something bad" might be repercussions you actuallysuffered at the hands of your parents, etc. Or it may be just that your pain will surface, and for some of us, that's bad enough. The things we've avoided for so long are sometimes horrifyingto face.
The Needy Baby
Within each of us is a small part (or sometimes not so small) that is our needy inner child.This part, for one reason or another, never received what it needed from parents, the world, or God. Even if you had the best parents in the world, who made every effort to fulfill all your needs, chances are you were not allowed to cry your pain as often or as long as your soulneeded to. At some point you received the message to stop, to suppress, to "grow up". Evenif it was done gently, at some point, all beings in our society received this message. We holdan almost universal judgment against neediness,so expressing these inner child needs in their raw state rarely has a positive response from others. It usually triggers their own angryneedy inner children, and causes them to respond to our need with anger and judgment.So what happens to these parts that haven't been allowed to fully heal? What happens toparts that are operating in a state of lack and denial, who are not allowed to express needybaby feelings directly?They go underground.They try to get their needs filled in less-than-direct ways. They attach themselves to outer things, they assign meaning to things and people and activities and they tell themselves thatthese things are what they need, and if they can only have these things, they will feel happyand fulfilled.But of course, the things are never satisfying. What is needed is to allow the needy baby tocry fully to heal all the old feelings of lack and need that have gone into hiding in the attic.Then we can find ways to nurture and feed the needy baby, ways that will be direct and trulyfulfilling to the actual needs. Although, once the old pain is cried and healed, much of theneediness dissipates naturally.
Prisoner of War 
 
This addictive pattern sources primarily from body, and body's despair. Body feels severedfrom consciousness and judged by almost all the other parts. Body has a consciousness of itsown, but severed from its siblings (mind, heart and soul), and disconnected from its divinity,body becomes deeply despairing and alone. There comes a point where the feelings of despair become so enormous, it's like body "hits bottom" under the weight of all suppression,repression, oppression, judgments, and hatred. It sees no way out, no road to redemption,especially when all the religions of the world say body is the enemy, something to be leftbehind, something to be shunned.And so body becomes desperate and angry, backed into a corner, a prisoner of war, astarving child in a ghetto situation. Body begins to believe that taking whatever smallpleasures it can get - no matter what the cost - is fully justified. When mind tries harder tocontrol and "discipline" body, body resorts to the hostile take-over. Mind gets shoved out of the way, and body takes over to gorge. You addicts will understand what I mean here. It's afeeling (to mind) like going unconscious. Of suddenly "coming to" and realizing you've eatenan entire chocolate cake, or drunk an entire bottle of vodka.Body gets two pay-offs here. One is the obvious pleasure of the food, drug, whatever. But thesecond pay-off is the feeling of control, of having successfuly "stolen" something, despitemind's tight controls. There's a great pleasure in this stolen power.
Even though it may feel sick afterward, even though it may be putting our life in great danger 
, body continues thisbehavior because these brief snatches of pleasure it receives makes it feel less powerless,less despairing, at least for moments.
Self-Hate / Death-Wish
Although self-hate acts out in many forms, addiction is one of the most insidious. Most of thethings we become addicted to are not good for our bodies or souls. Even things that taken inmoderation would be benign, can become destructive when taken in large amounts, or constantly. When self-hate is participating in addictions, it's like having a little gremlin sittingon our shoulder that is trying to punish us, make us suffer. The gremlin pushes us toward theaddiction, whispering whatever will egg us on, including taunts from its bag of negatives aboutus. It may use the "you're weak" taunt in a twisted push to get us to do the addictive behavior in order to "prove" that we can only do it once. Things can get very twisty here.The same gremlin sits on our heads afterwards, and whispers in our ear that we are awful,horrible, bad, weak willed, etc. If the addiction is one like drugs or alcohol that can affect our behavior, the gremlin gathers up all the things we might have done while under the influence -any bad or hurtful or embarassing thing - to store up in its bag of negatives to lash us withlater.This self-hate might even reach death-wish proportions, and although the death-wish mightbe entirely outside our conscious awareness, it still operates to fulfill itself in any way it can.The more noxious the addiction, the better.The best (worst), most addictive substances are things that give pleasure, distract us from our pain, and drag us down into death (albeit sometimes slowly).
"DRY DRUNK" FAMILY PATTERNS
Much has been written on the alcoholic family and the problems facing the adult child of alcoholic parents. We just need to mention here that the "dry drunk" behavior traits do notonly apply to alcoholics or drug addicts. There is a behavior pattern that acts like an addict,but may not in fact be addicted to any particular substance. The pattern may have originatedwith an alcoholic family situation, and 3 generations later is still manifesting in behavioral or emotional ways that do not involve drinking.
 
"Dry drunk" traits consist of:
Exaggerated self-importance and pomposity
Grandiose behavior 
A rigid, judgmental outlook
Impatience
Childish behavior 
Irresponsible behavior 
Irrational rationalization
Projection
OverreactionThese traits describe the "addict", whether or not the person is actively drinking or drugging.The person who acts as the "addict" in any family situation, basically controls everythingthrough their behavior. But addict is really an insufficient word for this pattern.I grew up in an alcoholic family, 3 generations of drinkers. The house was full of turmoil andfear and unpredictability. The children in the house learned to play their various roles. My rolewas responsible caretaker. When I married a man who rarely drank, I counted myself lucky.But what I found was that I had married the same family pattern in another form.This man was diabetic, and his mother had been diabetic and had died at a relatively youngage. The whole family revolved around the disease, first his mother's and later, his own.There was the constant worry, concern for diet and exercise and blood tests and insulin shotstaken at the right time and in the right proportion. Because of frequent "reactions" due toeating too much sugar or taking too much insulin, it became impossible for him to hold a fulltime job. I took on the role of tracking his diet and sugar levels, of worrying, of calling his bossand making excuses for him. Our lives revolved around his illness. But somehow he alwaysfound the energy and health to do things that he wanted to do, such as work in the localtheater group. When I finally got tired of this and tried to change my side of the pattern, heaccused me of not loving him any more and he found another woman who would continue toplay the codependent pattern with him.I consider that this man was a second generation dry drunk, although alcohol was not hisproblem. This suggests to me that the addict pattern precedes the actual drinking or druggingproblem. In other words, it's the emotional factors that are the most important and causalhere. There may be a combination of Needy Baby and Self-Hate running here, as well assome of Body's Despair, which makes control the main issue. This pattern requires that theentire family focus on the "addict" and their problems, and they manipulate the situation bygoing further into their "sickness" when the right attention isn't paid. Inevitably, when I tried tostop caretaking my husband, he would overdose on insulin, and scare me back into line. I'msure there are many people with chronic illnesses or problems that fall into this samecategory. They may not be as volatile or potentially violent as the alcoholic family, but thepatterns are still insidious and damaging. For everybody involved.
COPING PATTERNS THAT DEVELOP IN FAMILIES
Children who grow up with a parent who runs these patterns will develop coping patterns,trying to keep themselves safe and sane in an insane situation. These are common copingpatterns:
Hero/Responsible Child:
Taking responsibility allows children to displace all their mixed feelings and energy into success, caretaking, school, and/or sports. In additionto making him/herself feel more in control, the hero/responsible child also makes thefamily look good, taking attention off their problems. Unfortunately, the

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