How do you see addiction?
Many people think of addiction as an orientation TO something. This perspective puts the power of the addiction in the substance or the behavior.
“He is addicted TO alcohol.”
“He is addicted TO sex.”
“He is addicted TO drugs.”
Addiction is not a problem of substances or even behavior. It is a problem of the isolated mind. Something has gone wrong with the motivation and reward system in a person who has made accommodation with loneliness.
The motivation and reward system of the brain — in more healthy people — empowers us to flourish as it moves us into healthy relationships with others.
We are motivated to connect who other people. The reward is attention, affirmation, validation, and meaning.
But what happens when your motivation to connect with others is blocked, limited, or constrained? The reward you seek — attention, affirmation, validation, and meaning — must be substituted with something else.
That something else may be supplied by alcohol, sex, or drugs.
That these substitutes for a healthy connection with others is only a momentary reward is revealed in your need to return repeatedly to the substance or behavior that only teases you into a deeper isolation.
Eventually your motivation and reward system breaks. Instead of motivating you to pursue the only reward that fully satisfies, you are enslaved by a motivation that leaves you forever hungry for more.
Once you are trapped in an addiction. The only way out is other people.
You must find your way to relationships without shame. To friendships without expectations. And to partners who have learned how to forgive.[hr]