Nothing seemed more important in that moment. The rest of the world, as she knew it, faded into the background. ‘Just one more’ she reasoned. Disengaging from the noisy clutter of well-intentioned warnings, she succumbed to the urge and stared directly into the face of addiction.
Compulsive shopping, eating, gambling, pornography, drugs and alcohol are just a sample of the many faces of addiction. Addiction has been known to traverse boundaries of gender, ethnicity and social class. Its devastating impact on the individual and on society in general sparked an interest in the identification of related risk factors. Studies have since found an association between negative early life experiences and addictive personalities.
Research findings suggest that individuals who experience difficult or challenging childhoods do not internalize the ability to regulate emotion. In other words, having been exposed to invalidating environments, these individuals have not had the opportunity to have their feelings understood and contained by a nurturing caregiver. As a result, their own capacity to self-soothe becomes compromised. Furthermore, they also learn to believe that emotional support will not be readily available when needed and thus resort to suppressing their emotions. During stressful periods in life, these individuals find it difficult to tolerate intense emotion and tend to seek temporary relief in the form of food, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc.
In the context of a supportive therapeutic environment, individuals can safely navigate the treacherous waters of their pasts and begin to uncover and express previously hidden emotions. Furthermore, they can also gain insight into the reasons that made it necessary for them to rely on self-defeating coping mechanisms. In so doing, individuals develop self-compassion and fundamentally change the way in which they relate to themselves and to others thereby liberating themselves from the grip of addiction.
Shaghaghy, F., Saffarinia, M., Iranpoor, M., & Soltnynejad. A. (2011). The relationship of early maladaptive schemas, attributional styles and learnt helplessness among addicted and non-addicted men. Addiction & Health, 3(1), 45-52