Addiction is all around us. It is right in our face on the streets and alleyways of every major city of the world, and it skulks behind the curtains and mahogany doors of middle and wealthy class homes. One is more visible, but there are no boundaries or socio-economic walls for addiction.
Alcohol, opiates, legal painkillers, gambling, sex, shopping, internet…. The forms of addiction show up in all facets of society.
Gabor Mate, a world renowned expert on addiction has introduced a new way of thinking about addiction…
“I am saying that all addictions come from emotional loss, and exist to soothe the pain resulting from that loss. Trauma and abuse, as we define them, are certainly surefire sources of loss but they’re far from the only ones. The human infant and toddler is a highly vulnerable creature, and emotional stresses of all kinds in the rearing environment can create long-lasting wounds in the psyche that a person will later try to soothe or numb with addictive behavior.“
This is a huge shift away from many common thoughts about addiction being because of peoples weakness, or lack of will power, or a genetic disposition. It also changes how we view addiction as a society. How do you view the person who has suffered abuse or gross mistreatment as a child, and as an adult has turned to pain numbing substances to ease their pain? Surely the answer to that is “with compassion”.
Eckhart Tolle, the world renowned spiritual teacher who is best known for his book The Power of Now, was very clear when he said….
“Addictions begin with pain, and end with pain”
Is it any surprise that the same areas of the brain deal with physical pain and emotional pain? Is it then a surprise that the world is dealing with an opioid health crisis with millions of people addicted and dying from legal opioids?
If this is right, and all addictions are attempts to soothe pain, then should we not feel compassion and understanding for a person struggling with addiction?
Mate explains that people need to be with their pain, and not try and run away from it.
So how do people be with their pain and begin the healing journey?
“Only if they sense compassion from somebody…. Addicted people need a compassionate person to be present, which will permit them to experience their pain, without having to run away from it.”… Dr Gabor Mate
So, one of the first and seemingly most crucial elements towards easing a person’s addiction is for there to be someone who can show compassion and understanding. This is where Kindarma can help.
The beauty of Kindarma is that there is no judgement. The people who come to Kindarma to help others have been through the hell of addiction, or some other trauma, and want to help someone else. Compassion is the most important thing we can offer to someone going through difficult times.
In the end, it is always up to the person with the addiction to find their way out of their own hell. No-one can do this for them. That doesn’t mean they have to do it alone. To have someone to talk to who has been there themselves is a beautiful and crucial first step.