May 20

Addiction:  The absence of emotional sobriety

       When I was in therapy for depression and addiction to pornography, my therapist explained to me what addiction really was, and why I was addicted.  I understood (I thought) about alcoholism and drug addiction, but sexual addiction was new to me.  He explained to me the real issue I was struggling with:  My emotions.

       According to him my addiction had very little to do with sex or porn.  It had more to do with deep-seated emotional needs, self-loathing and shame.  Sexual addiction was my drug of choice.  I “used” sex and pornography the same way an alcoholic used alcohol – to numb my self so I wouldn’t feel any negative emotions.

       The problem, he said, with addiction is that it not only soothes a whole host of bad feelings, it also covers up a lot of good ones.  Like an alcoholic or drug addict I didn’t want to feel anything.  And when I did I would “use.”

       I define this mood altering “drug” the absence of emotion.  Below I have compared addiction and emotional sobriety: 

Addiction                                      Emotional sobriety

a)      Fantasy                                   Reality

b)      Narcissism                              Maturity

c)      Shame                                      Worth

d)     Powerlessness                         Empowerment

e)      Bondage                                  Freedom

f)       Isolation                                  Connection

         Addiction thrives on fantasy and is fed by shame.  Emotional sobriety has a good grasp of reality and is strengthened by self-worth.    Remove the shame and you remove the addiction.

         An addict suffers from the worst kind of narcissism.  That explains why a mother who is a heroine addict would risk her children’s health and safety in pursuit of her drug.  She would risk it all for the heroine. 

      We’ll begin by examining four factors that support addiction:

  • Fantasy
  • Shame
  • Powerlessness
  • Isolation

      The hope is that we’ll begin to see how addition begins as a means of gaining control and ends up running the show.  The ‘savior’ turns into a dictator from hell.

 Tomorrow’s topic – Addiction:  “I don’t want to feel”