Any behaviour that intrinsically, or through conditioning, has the power to alter our mood can become addictive. Certain drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, the first few drinks, and behaviours such as gambling, shopping, sex, create an aroused state in which the addict feels all-powerful. Other drugs such as heroin, valium, and behaviours such as over-eating create a satiated state in which levels of physical pain or psychological distress can be reduced.
All addicts seek the emotional intensity or “high” connected with acting out. This is a very seductive process in which a false belief is formed that nurturing can come from objects or events. True nurturing can only come from real and meaningful relationships, but the addict’s primary relationship is with addictive behaviour. A lot of time is spent planning or resisting the behaviour as it comes to dominate more of their lives.
It is helpful to view the mood change of the addictive ritual as a trance state. The trance state is experienced as a feeling of power and control in which addicts can detach from the shame, guilt, and powerlessness they feel in real life. This makes the trance state more attractive particularly as thoughts of the past and future are absent.
Intimacy ≠ intensity of emotional response
The emotional intensity of the addiction trance state is experienced as a type of intimacy. The addict has programmed him/herself to believe that intimacy = intensity of emotional response. true intimacy can only be experienced through shared experiences with another human being who understands and accepts us.
In many instances, vulnerability to addiction arises from physical or psychological trauma. Symptoms of trauma include flashbacks, nightmares and avoidance of situations associated with the traumatic event/s. Human Givens therapists are trained in an evidence-based psychological technique to recode any traumatic memory as a low arousal memory that doesn’t impinge on your present-day life.
Human Givens Perspective
From the Human Givens perspective, addiction arises when a person’s emotional needs are not being met and/or there is damage to the tools nature provides for meeting those needs. A person is powerless to control their behaviour while in the addiction trance but can learn to control it by observation and understanding while not in that trance. Addictive behaviours usually occur in certain contexts or with certain people. You can learn to create new responses to old triggers, change unrealistic beliefs, clearly see the self-destructiveness and delusion of the addictive lifestyle and create a vision for a better future in which you are getting your emotional needs met in a healthy balanced way. (See the emotional needs audit)