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Habits for Self Medicating Can Become Addicting

Jul 10, 2020

There are a thousand ways we humans have come up with to self-medicate, but they are all ultimately a trap of our own devising and lead to diminished lives. One executive I worked with used to medicate with retail therapy.  When I asked her about it, she said, “This is how I medicate. When things are not going well, or I have a tough interaction with one of my bosses, I take a break. I slip out and go shopping. Until now, I just thought it was a normal break and getting away from it all. Now I can see … it’s medicine. It’s a connection. I have a connection with retail.

Another person I knew was addicted to Fantasy Football. All he needed was a little stress, something to make him feel a little down, and he could lose hours on his computer. Any golfers, hunters, fishermen or sports enthusiasts listening?

Another executive I worked with was late for a dinner meeting. When he arrived, he said, “I have a confession.”

“What?” I asked.

“I have a sexual addiction … mostly internet porn. And I have been seeking some help for it in a recovery group. And that’s why I’m late,” he said.

“What happened?” I inquired.

“Well, I have learned something. One of my triggers is when an authority figure, like a boss or important customer, criticizes me. I run to my addiction for comfort. It makes me feel better.

“On the way here, I had to call my sponsor and process how I was doing. My boss was pretty down on me today, and when I left the office, I felt tempted to go do something that would make me feel good, but that I would regret. So I called my sponsor and we talked for awhile until it all passed. That’s why I’m late, and as part of my recovery, I had to be honest about it and tell you,” he said.

What he had learned is that is addiction had been a place of comfort for him. It made him feel good when other things were not feeling so great. But it wouldn’t last, and it also was undermining his marriage and other aspects of his life.

Sex, food, good wine, hobbies, awards, good revenues, celebrations, wins, fun, exciting relationships and events, exotic trips, products and toys — they are awesome, fun and life enhancing. They should be enjoyed. But they will never fulfill your “searching for connection” drive. Ultimately the new car smell goes away, the trophy tarnishes, and the cool new relationship becomes less cool. Then your internal chip returns a message that reads “still searching.”

Let's talk about healthy ways to get your needs met. 

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