Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mission 2013 #20. What is an Addiction?

I will always be grateful to Dr. M. Douglas Reed for teaching me so much about addictions. He taught me a new definition of addiction that has helped me and thousands of Ministers and Peer Helpers around the world.

Here is the Formula: AB = C + D

Addictive Behavior--Equals--Compulsions--Plus--Dependency

You have possibly heard Counselors use all these terms as though they are the same. They are similar but have important differences. A person can be Dependent and not be Addicted. He/she can be Compulsively taking drugs but not be addicted.We tend to think that anyone who does drugs and cannot seem to stop even though they are harmful to him/her and others is an addict. A person may take drugs compulsively and not be dependent or depend on drugs but not be addicted.

This means that to help a person that is harming self with drugs we need to look and heal the roots of  a compulsion and for a dependency or maybe both.

Compulsions are the behavior associated with trying to medicate the pain of inner problems. People can act compulsively to lower the discomfort of anxiety, guilt, shame, fears, rejection, etc. Many compulsive people have suffered traumatic and adverse events in life and have turned to a drug to reduce its intensity. Unfortunately, a drug does not cure the pain and may make it worse.

Dependency arises when a person takes drug to get high but not because of inner pain.In the Sixties and Seventies many of my students at the University of Cincinnati used marijuana to get high. They were not medicating pain but simply living the high life. However, after a while, their bodies can be dependent on that substance.

Addictions are the combination of Compulsions and Dependencies. We do drugs to lower our guilt and shame and get a high. The relief is short because we start to feel worse since we have done something immoral or illegal. That sets us up for more inner pain which can lead to more dope which leads to, ...

Some attempts to reduce drug abuse actually make it worse if the Helpers increase guilt and shame or fail to provide an alternative high, legal, moral high. Churches and organizations that are gracious, merciful and provide spiritual highs are the best ways to treat the addict.

Get my book Hope and Change for Humpty to learn more. 

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