Many use substances to cope with emotional pain, which is where addiction comes in. Substances promise an easy escape because emotions are too painful or difficult to handle. Negative feelings and thoughts affect the choices someone makes and the behavior someone engages in. Addictive behavior functions to repair the underlining feeling of helplessness.
The Cause of Addictive Behaviors
The core is the “Why?” question of addiction. Many factors can lead to addictive behaviors, and understanding the why can help recovery. There are four core reasons why many engage in addictive behaviors:
- Severe unrealistic self-criticism and addictive behavior are a displaced effort to reassert control over their emotional state.
- A substitute for a person because they feel helpless and need an object to feel in control to reestablish power against helplessness.
- Many engage in addictive behaviors as completion of self, a needed sense of self-esteem, and a basic understanding of personal value.
- Addictive behaviors are used as the only way to be soothed. Many are taking care of themselves or at least trying to via the addictive act by attempting to feel empowered.
Once a person understands the why of addiction, they can take steps to move forward with purpose. We may not have control over everything that happens in our life, but we control how we respond. The key is to focus on the present and ask why I need that substance and what emotional pain I am not addressing. It takes a lot of strength to stop the addiction cycle and create a different meaning to the situation with another intention or purpose moving forward.
Recovering from Addictive Behaviors
Recovery and healing mean unpacking and letting go of the “Why Me?” that has been weighing on for years. “Why me?” is a weakening phase. It only increases our feeling of victimhood and makes us feel incapable of dealing with the situation.
Treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and learning emotional regulation teach how to process thoughts and feelings to take control in place of addiction. During therapy, individuals learn to practice skills such as applying distraction techniques and changing cognitive distortions to develop positive processing and healthy coping methods.
Distracting techniques are a way to pause between potentially triggering thoughts or situations. This process is not avoiding but delaying emotions to help prevent impulsive reactions such as reaching for a substance. Distractions are used during the space between the stimulus and the response, which is the freedom to choose. In that space, it is essential to pause and ask yourself if you want to respond the same as last time, which has not worked out well, or if you’re going to try something different.
How Therapy Can Help
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teaches those recovering from addiction and mental illness to find a connection between their thoughts, feeling, and actions in order to increase awareness of how these things impact recovery. In recovery, it is essential to learn triggers associated with substance use and how they can stimulate thoughts of substance use and craving substances. Nothing is more motivating than being prepared to manage internal triggers such as thoughts and emotions.
Therapy can be the tool that generates ongoing change. Recovery is a challenge that must be faced head on. It urges us to do things differently, to get the results we long for. A new beginning is possible…a second chance at sober life, a REAL life. The LIFE we once knew, but a life we can certainly get back.
Substance Use Disorder Help in Florida
When it comes to addiction, professional help is essential. A mental health provider can provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan that includes therapies and medications to address the underlying causes of your addiction and help you avoid relapse in the future.
At My Psychiatrist, we have a team of highly qualified professionals from various disciplines who specialize in addiction and substance use disorders. They are dedicated to helping individuals achieve long-term sobriety by providing evidence-based treatments tailored to the specific needs of each patient.
Our mental health providers utilize a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, family counseling, medication management, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and other evidence-based interventions to provide comprehensive care for those with substance use disorder.