Tonight we read a passage from the book "The Heart of Addiction" by Dr. Lance Dodes and reflected on it. Dr. Dodes' theory of addiction is that the underlying feelings we have drive us to use as a way to cope. He began realizing that his patients were feeling better once they made the decision to act on the addiction (walk into the bar) before even engaging in the behavior (taking the first drink). Once the decision is made, the person feels empowered and no longer feels helpless.
From the passage we read, Dr. Dodes leaves the impression that addiction happen as a result of us feeling helpless or powerless in a situation. Most times these feelings are underlying and are not recognized by the person. We feel driven to work against these negative feelings and counteract them with anger. We feel powerless which leads to frustration which can lead to anger and further with the addictive behavior to cope. Anger is a secondary emotion and when you look beneath it you will find fear, hurt, shame, or frustration.
Addictions stem from trying to cope with these unwanted or negative feelings that are a natural part of life in an unhealthy way. We need to learn to sit with our emotions, even the negative ones, and then move on from them by coping in a healthy way (exercise, yoga, meditation, reading, talking to a friend, etc.) If we can realize the underlying feelings that are driving us to use substances, we can become more mindful of them and change the behavior, replacing them with positive coping mechanisms.