What do you think of when you hear the word “addiction”? If you are dealing with addiction yourself or have a loved one who is, it may have a lot of negative connotations that are personal to you and your situation. At its most basic point, however, we all know addiction involves the chronic use of drugs, alcohol, or other substances, beyond the user’s control and to the end of causing harm and destruction in their lives and the lives of those around them.
In this sense, it’s normal to think that the flip side of addiction would be never or rarely using substances, or “clean living.” While that’s true to an extent – a sober lifestyle is a hallmark of recovery – more and more specialists are now seeing sobriety as a secondary characteristic in addiction recovery. This represents an important shift in the treatment approach, where the primary focus of treatment is not on getting sober but on getting connected – and sobriety then follows. Specifically, this means forming and keeping connections within a healthy community, which serve as part of the foundation for building a sober life in recovery.
Addiction Is Unhealthy Attachment
To reach this perspective, researchers looked at some of the main drivers of addiction, trying to understand why some people develop addictions to substances while others don’t, even if they have tried some substances before or continue to use them occasionally. What they found was that people who have addictive tendencies also have unhealthy attachment styles. These are patterns that were formed in childhood and continue to be expressed through addiction in adulthood.
It isn’t just the substance that leads to the addiction, but the built-up behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and attachments that connect all of those. Addiction is in some sense a learned behavior brought on by other risk factors.
Addiction is essentially an unhealthy attachment. There is another saying, “people are not addicted to drugs, they are addicted to escaping reality.” This aversion to reality is the expression of the unhealthy attachment of addiction: instead of taking ownership of one’s life and choices, a person latches on to the easy-out, feel-good, false reality promised by substances. This allure becomes even more attractive as the modern world becomes ever more dystopian, problems look to be even more insurmountable, and people become more and more isolated from each other.
Creating New, Healthy Attachments in Treatment
Whenever something is removed from a space, it creates a void. However, a void does not exist for long before something else comes in to fill it. This is why the focus shouldn’t be solely on removing the offending substance – equal or even more attention has to be given to what’s going to fill the space instead.
Many treatment and recovery centers know this, which is why their programs are oriented toward creating new, positive connections in their patients’ lives. This can include direct personal connections with staff, including one-on-one counseling and recovery companions. Additionally, many provide support group services, which plug patients into a like-minded group of people who share similar experiences and goals in treatment and recovery. Some can even further connect clients to positive outlets in the community, where they can develop a hobby, skill, or career. All of these positive connections serve as a lifeline to the healthy place where someone who is struggling with addiction wants and needs to be, but has been unable to get to on their own.
Positive connections like these also nourish a sense of care and belonging within people who are dealing with addiction, which makes them feel less alone and less likely to use substances. Instead of believing it doesn’t matter, they will come to realize that they are connected to the whole, and whether they choose to use it or not does indeed affect others.
Healing the Family Connection
Even though only one family member may actually be harboring a substance addiction, without a doubt, the addiction affects the entire family. The toll it can take on the family can be enormous, whether that be emotional, physical, financial, or more, and it can bring many families to their breaking point. However, by understanding it as a family problem, families can take responsibility for it together and can even work together to bring about healing.
Therefore, recovery should not be for the person who is dealing with addiction alone but for the whole family. Support groups and counseling can help family members effectively respond to their loved one who is in treatment without perpetuating toxic or codependent patterns with them. Family counseling, as we offer here at Destiny Recovery Center, can also help the family to work better as a unit; sometimes, the person with addiction is simply the canary in the coal mine, warning us of the dysfunction we need to correct before it’s too late.
If you or someone in your family is struggling with addiction, it’s not too late. Even if you have been struggling for years, you can still do something about it. You do not have to do it alone. Here at Destiny Recovery Center, we have been helping people and families whose lives have been marred by addiction to course correct and find their freedom and happiness in life again. We specialize in healing family relationships and creating positive connections within the community, so that people no longer turn to substances to fill an emptiness in their lives, but can enjoy an authentic life full of loving people. Find out how good life can really be. Call us at (909) 413-4304.