What Is Addiction?

What Is Addiction? I can only answer this question from my own experience. Ask 100 people, from therapists, academics, doctors, and the addicts suffering with addiction themselves, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. Here’s my answer, based on my own experience of addiction and recovery from it.

Addiction is an unhealthy relationship to substances and behaviours that’s fueled by an on-going experience of not feeling good enough. This sense of not being good enough was, as I experienced it, very close and real. It dominated my thoughts and feelings, from a young age. Even thought I knew something wasn’t right and that there was more to life than feeling like this, I accepted ‘not good enough’ as my reality, almost without question.

I knew something wasn’t right because from a young age I experienced myself as being different from others, but not in a good way. I felt alone in myself and isolated from the rest of the world. Even thought I had friends, my experience of who I was on the inside didn’t seem to match what I saw them being on the outside. Because of this, I disconnected more and more from friends, family, and myself.

Consuming To Numb

Perhaps my earliest memory of active addiction was sneaking out of the house to buy sweets on Sunday afternoons. I remember eating those sweets in the same way as I indulged many of my addictive behaviours later in life. I remember the blissful moment of that sweetness hitting my taste buds, and then I was gone. I didn’t taste the sweets. Just like everything else I have used in compulsive ways throughout my life, during the time I use it, I am gone. Consuming in whatever form it would take, just to make myself disappear for a short time, became the focus of my life.

Addiction is mindless and unconscious consumption. In one of it’s forms, it is consumption to numb. To numb the unbearable sense of inadequacy. This form of addiction is not confined to down-and-outs with their cans of Special Brew. Mindless consumption, in varying extremes, is the addiction that we as a society have all bought into. It’s just that some forms of addiction are more normalised and accepted than others.

Consuming Out Of Lack

Are those who queue for hours outside the Apple Store for the latest iphone any less addicted than the down-and-outs? They may look different, standing there in their designer clothes with credit cards at the ready. Scratch beneath the surface though and I expect, in many cases, you would find an unbearable sense of lack driving their need to aquire better and more. Is this kind of consumption any more mindful and conscious than the behaviour of the down-and-outs, numbing themselves through Special Brew?

The only real difference I see is that one of these behaviours is socially accepted and normal. Certainly one of these behaviours has less negative impact on the ability to function in daily life. But, as the great man Jiddu Krishnamurti once said “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”. Most of us are addicted to something. Most of us have something we do that numbs us out into unconsciousness. Most of us brought the latest ipad or iphone, and momentarily felt fulfilled with our new acquisition. As it happens, I have one here!

From Consumption To Creativity

The first step of ending active addiction is to stop consuming in a way that numbs us to ourselves, and life. When we stop numbing ourselves we get clear and have a chance of creating something new. This is where we begin the journey from consuming to creating – AKA Recovery.

This shift from consumption to creativity is exactly what has happened in my recovery from addiction. In a way, my addictions have all been an implosion of my creative energy. Since I ended addiction in my own life creative output has increased greatly. I am now doing things that I never would have considered possible whilst I was struggling with addiction. My experience of creative energy is that it wants to create prolifically through me. My creative energy needs a channel. If it doesn’t have one, it turns in on itself and becomes destructive.

My Work With Creative Clients

Many of the clients I work with in my Harley Street hypnotherapy practice, in London, are creative and successful people. Many of them experience their creativity in a similar way to how I do in that, if it doesn’t have a channel of purposeful expression, it will implode into unhealthy patterns of consumption – AKA Addiction. I love working with these people and helping them turn their lives around, so that creativity can flow again.

My work as a hypnotherapist is to help people wake up to the ways that they kill their creativity with consumption, so they can see clearly that they have a choice and make this essential shift. I believe that most of us have this choice, but many of us just don’t know we have it – yet! I am so grateful that I woke up to myself and this choice I have to create my life. I love it even more that my work is helping others do the same.