We all know someone who has struggled with an addiction, whether it be an eating disorder, alcoholism or an addiction to pills or hard drugs. Maybe it’s you, your mom, your sister, your best friend or a distant aunt. These days it’s seemingly impossible to find someone who has never encountered an addict. There are many misconceptions about addicts that contain the notion that they are reckless, careless and selfish — this is not the case. They are struggling with something very similar to a disease. Most of the time the addiction stems from a mental disorder that has manifested itself over time, and this contributes to substance abuse or bad habits.
I’m not saying I am an expert in this field or that I know any of the answers to this complicated disorder, but I have had a fair amount of experience with addiction and have had many conversations with addicts to try and understand their side of the story.
Addiction isn’t something people choose to indulge in. A friend of mine says that it’s almost as if their bodies are possessed by something that is constantly telling them to consume your preferred substance or act on your habits. The layout of their minds reformats and the way they deal with stress is through immediate gratification by practicing their habit or indulgence.
Every single one of us can have addictive behaviors. Addiction doesn’t have to be exclusive to drugs and alcohol. Some people are addicted to their outward appearance and can’t leave the house without makeup or the perfect outfit, and the list goes on. Many people are severely addicted to their cell phones and we fail to acknowledge the consequences this has. I, for one, am definitely addicted to my cell phone and can feel the impact it has on how I deal with stress and anxiety.
A part of me blames society for not teaching children how to deal with their problems effectively through methods such as the practice of meditation. It is scientifically proven that consistent, daily meditation, even for 10 minutes a day, is highly beneficial in helping the brain to form new thought patterns and neurological pathways. Meditation allows you to intimately observe the way your brain functions and gives you an opportunity to change your habitual thought patterns, which in turn changes the way you interact with yourself and the world. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and is one of the most effective ways to naturally diminish the anxieties of daily life. When practicing meditation, you ignore outside stimuli and distractions. By focusing only on your breath, your only goal is to go deeper into your own consciousness to get to know yourself on the deepest level possible. I have personally known many former addicts who use meditation daily to stay on track for a life that is substance free. In my opinion, our nation’s pharmacies and doctors are somewhat discouraged from discussing the benefits of the practice of mindfulness. The practice of meditation is a good example of this because there isn’t any profit to be gained in helping patients help themselves. I believe money has toxically influenced society to the point where doctors are not inclined to even look into alternative solutions for their patients that may not require medical treatment.
Addiction partially roots from trying to escape from the stresses of life. If we taught people from a young age how to deal with their stress in a healthy manner, maybe the addiction epidemic would decrease. Addiction runs deep with the ideas and perceptions of yourself and life in general, which is something that is learned as you grow up. If we could teach people to see life in a different, lighter way and help them see that they really do have the power within themselves to rise above their destructive tendencies, maybe that would start to make a change.