Understanding What Addicts Lack in Their LivesOct 30, 2020
An addiction is a compulsive physiological need for something, in other words, something that someone needs to survive. People are usually addicted to a specific substance, such as alcohol, cocaine, speed, or food. But people can also feel addicted to activities, such as sex, gambling, work, destructive, relationships, religiosity, achievement, and materialism. These substances and activities never satisfy, however, because they don’t deal with the real problem. We don’t really need alcohol, street drugs, or sex. We can live very well without these things.
However, we really do need relationship, and we cannot live very well without it. We are aware of what happens when it’s absent.
Curing addictions requires a return to sensitivity and humility. Addicted people must admit their powerlessness to others, as well as soften their heart toward those they have injured and realize their deceitful desires. Addictions are not real desires. They are substitutes for some other need of the real self. An essential step in the healing of addictions is finding out the real need being masked by deceitful desire. One of these real needs is attachment and bonding to others.
Emotionally isolated people can’t get relationship, so they go for something else. They convince themselves that they really want the food, the sex, or the drugs, and they order their whole life around it. But they really need their emptiness filled up with loving feelings and connections with others.
When the inner hunger for relationship is filled with love, then the driving force behind many addictions goes away. Not all addictions come from isolation, but many do. If someone cannot bond with another person, they will bond with a prostitute’s body, a bottle, or a half-gallon of ice cream, all the while going relationally hungry inside.
One woman struggling with food addiction put it this way. “I remember the first time I chose to call someone instead of eat. I could feel the strong pull toward the refrigerator, but I interpreted that as a pull toward love. So I called someone in the group. After going over to her house and feeling some real affection, some warmth, I wasn’t hungry anymore. Since that time, I’ve learned to do that more and more. I’m finding out it’s not really food I want at those times. It’s love.”