Want the raw truth? Here it is:
Trauma is the Cause of Addiction
This has been a debate with lots of folks for a while now. Let me tell you this:
It is 1000% true. Why?
Because trauma is what the body PERCEIVES as traumatic. The addiction is the side effect of trying to manage the pain that trauma has had on the body mind and spirit. For those folks out there that claim nothing traumatic has happened to them and they are still struggling with substance use, let me say this again. Trauma is what the body perceives to be traumatic. The brain doesn’t always recognize this in its memory often times because it is to painful. This does not mean the trauma hasn’t happened. Unless we have developed programs that address releasing the trauma from the body specifically through movement and mindfulness we will not heal anyone. We simply can’t treat addiction with a medical model or just the program of the 12 step model.
The 12 Step Model as a Program Does not Work Anymore
Hear me clearly here. I am not 100% against the 12 step model, or meetings or the big book but I do think at this point in time they are doing more harm then good. When people leave rehab (including myself) you are told to go to a meeting, get a sponsor, call someone. You are given the book. Going to meetings are great but they are not the answer. Not by a long shot. What happens in between the meetings? What happens before we get someone on the phone? How do we mange the exact moment we want to use? That exact moment?
How do we mange the exact moment we want to use? That exact moment?
If you look at addiction as it relates to trauma, the body mind and spirit need to be healed from the inside out. We need internal locust of control with external supports. How you ask? Simple. Mindfulness. It needs to be the #1 method of tools we teach before anything else if we really want to change the course of action of the current path of addiction.
I am aware the program has a spiritual component and meditation component but it’s not even close to enough. It needs to be the foundation of healing. The thing that meetings are perfect for is connection. However, what’s happening is that people are being told things like” If you don’t go to meetings you will relapse”. People also get blamed for not going to meetings and are accused of not participating in their recovery. That is simply not true. In fact in my case it’s complete bullshit. When I work with folks in rehab and ask them why they think they relapsed the first thing out of their mouth is “I walked away from the program” (going to meetings and doing 12 step work)
My response is always the same. “No, you walked away from you.”
We Keep Feeding the Victim Role
The way addiction is currently talked about as the disease model feeds the victim and doesn’t put the power back in the hands of the addict. Addiction is not cancer. There is some control here. Sounds crazy I know but you can have an addiction which becomes a disease of the brain but you do have some control over weather or not you pick up a substance to feed that addiction. I wouldn’t say that is true for a disease such as cancer. Addiction is a disease of the unhealed mind body and spirit that continues to be in pain due to trauma. If we want to heal addiction we need to assist people in managing the symptoms which we can control that start in the mind which simply put are just thoughts. The body has a reaction to those thoughts which can be called a trigger (I can’t stand the word) which then allows for a physical reaction to be present. Whatever we are assigning meaning to as a trigger just lets us indulge in the feeling that often lead to a behavior. It comes down to awareness of the body. This is where using a mindfulness based approach as the only method to healing is at this time the only option if we want to save lives.
We (addicts) are taught more often then not that we don’t have control. We are told if we don’t go to meetings for the rest of our lives we will relapse and die. We are told if we don’t do the 12 steps we won’t be free. There is no empowerment in any of that. There is a way to teach how to have empowerment and that you do have control over certain things within the disease model. It is okay to take responsibility for your self, your addiction and your disease if you choose to look at it that way. We need to empower people to do the actual emotional work that is required to heal and empower that healing with no apologies and no god damn excuses. Make amends to yourself first. No apologies needed after that unless you fully have found self love that drives the way you live making yourself the priority. We need to be fully grounded before go and apologize for something we did under a controlled substance. Taking responsibility and changing behavior is where it’s at. We need to teach people how to take their power back and get out of the victim role.
There is so much talk about stigma as being such a huge problem with addiction. Why? Who are we referring to? The outside world that has misconceptions of the person with addiction or the internalized stigma of what we think about ourselves as addicts? Do you know what I have to say about that? Fuck what other people think and get busy loving yourself. It is our responsibility to take ownership of who we are and who we want to be and act accordingly. The stigma of addiction should never be the reason someone takes their own life. EVER. This isn’t being taught however in treatment programs. As I said before we need to teach a locust of control from the inside out first and then the rest is external supports, not the other way around.
Mindfulness, Movement, Connection and Laughter is the Answer.
No one needs to die from addiction. NO ONE. We can’t “treat” addiction if we have it but we can heal ourselves emotionally and teach ourselves how to manage it through movement and mindfulness.
No one needs to die from addiction. NO ONE.
Yes I said laughter as part of the answer. If we don’t have humor and normalize some of this stuff including relapse we will never live a full life. Laughing is connection which does heal the mind body and nourishes the soul. Movement releases what trauma is stuck in the body. Yoga in particular saved my life as I learned to control my thoughts and heal my mind body and spirit through breath, meditation and movement. I do not attend AA meetings and participate fully in my recovery every minute, moment, and second of the day.
Relapse doesn’t need to be a part of the process, but if it is and we survived then more reason to be grateful and just move the fuck on. Not everyone gets that chance. So if you do, celebrate like crazy and get your sober on. Have a dance party about it.
I am aware some of what I said is controversial and you may disagree. I ask you to just sit with this and explore your reaction. We can all co-exist peacefully and lovingly with different opinions but only if we fully love ourselves first so we can really listen to others.
We all deserve to live a healthy full life. Choose you. You are fucking worth it.