Addictions Nature Of The Beast
By Peter Hawes
Pop those pills, inject that shit, down those shots, roll it up light it up smoke it up.
Oh wait no maybe not that’s a bad idea.
Hello I'm Peter Hawes public speaker and trainer in mental health.
You know I’ve written many things on various topics in mental health and I've done many talks on many subjects (some I think people wish id just shut up about :-P)
But I’ve rarely spoken about my problems with addictions.
I have been told I have an addictive personality. I am not sure what that means as I have never looked it up.
But I know I struggle with many addictions.
So lets get these cats out of the bag shall we.
What are my poisons?
Alcohol, painkillers, cigarettes, self harm, benzo's, sex, porn addiction and gambling
Seems like a lot for one man but when you look at the context of traumas in my life then its evident I would have a lot of pain and with a lot of pain comes a lot of coping mechanisms. Not all of them constructive.
In fact I like to refer to addictions as destructive coping mechanisms.
Sometimes a destructive mechanisms is better then none at all right? Whatever gets you throw the night to a brighter day.
But as good at numbing the pain as substance abuse is, eventually it catches up with you and bites you on the ass and truthfully these numb or fantastic feelings we take substances to achieve well there kinda a lie and the problem with a lie is it eventually destructs your life.
So how do we get of this freight train when we are ready?
There’s multiple supports round there for addictions my advice jump on as many as you can as you can never have too much support when quitting your addiction.
Things I learnt to help me to my sobriety have been replacing those destructive coping mechanisms with constructive ones, for example I do art now and fused glass and this is what I classify as a health addiction.
As a popular campaign once said don’t stop it swap it.
The problem is once you stop you find you have to change your friends circle specially if there other users as you would be amazed how many users try to justify and normalize there own addictions by externalizing them onto others.
Most of us have quit smoking and then been stressed and had a friend offer us a cigarette?
Don’t be angry with them this is all happening unconsciously as a way for the addicted individual to normalize there own addictions.
From what I can tell all addicts do it with all substances and they don’t even know they are doing it.
The other thing I have found is once sober part of the psychological withdrawal, possibly for the rest of our lives, is that the brain will try justify a reason to use these substances again.
I relapsed multiple times with my alcoholism and I think a lot of people do as its part of the journey of recovery.
But I remember the first time I relapsed after six months sober and I was at a part where someone had this new baileys Irish cream flavor.
I was offered to try it and thought surely a little on the tip of my finger wont hurt just to get a taste.
So I got them to pour some in the cap of the bottle and dipped my finger tip in and licked my finger then decided I didn’t really get a good taste so drank the rest of the bottle cap.
Hmm no ill affect there.
Later that night there was probably 5 or 10 mils left in the bottle and I thought it wouldn’t hurt me to finish it off so I did.
Later that night on the way home I walked past pubs and liquor shops and while I was tempted I was able to resist.
I didn’t have another drop for two days and started thinking maybe six months sober I am in control of this now.
Bam it had me. Do you see how my mind tricked me and tried to justify the use of my addiction?
You guessed it later that same day I went and brought a bottle of whisky then the next day another and another and some beer and some baileys etc.
This went on for six more months till I cleaned up again.
The brain always tries to justify the addiction and you gotta watch your thinking cause it will sneak up and trick you.
Also during stress one can see the lesser of two evils as substance abuse but there are supports for us out there in stressful times to reach out too.
The trick is to be very diligent and have an artillery or constructive mechanisms to help deal with stresses.
The other thing that was really helpful for me was to learn to separate my addictions from myself and hate the substances.
I learnt to separate my behaviors while under the influence or pursing these addictions to who I am and found that helped with the whole guilt shame cycle of addiction.
I was a very violent alcoholic and did some terrible things I still get night terrors about and the worst part is I didn’t care who I hurt or how bad I hurt them until I was sober the next morning.
I nearly killed a few people just from violent alcohol fueled rage. I definitely maimed some but because it was all drug orientated and things were different back then none of it got reported. (yep I was the only 14 year old drug dealer I knew who dealt drugs to support his alcohol habit)
But none of those actions fit my value so I drank to forget and deal with the guilt and it turned into a bullshit carousel ride I felt I couldn’t get off.
Thankfully I learnt to hate the alcohol and what it did to me and I learnt that if my point of control starts at that bottle I sure as shit wasn’t going to put that bottle to my lips and I learnt to fight the addiction as eventually your faced with two choices, stay on the carousel and keep going round and round amassing pain and guilt or get the fuck off and face things thus far.
For the last 20 years I've managed to fight my addictions and stay sober from alcohol for 6 years now.
I've managed to stay off the painkillers for 5 years although I had a small relapse a eight months ago but got off them pretty quick.
I've managed to stay sober from benzos for a year and off the smokes for a year.
Sex addiction and porn addiction I've managed quite well with detachment and mindfulness and knowing these are coping mechanisms when stressed trying to self sooth.
Self harm also an addiction as seen in my other article (self harm prevention block) I think its been about 2 years.
Its not easy to stay on top of your addictions and learn new ways of coping and feeling emotions that we would all rather not feel but I promise you its worth it.
As a young mentor of mine once said “Its important to feel both the good emotions and the bad cause in the end that’s how we know its real”
She was spot on and I try live by that now and monitor my thoughts so that my mind doesn’t try justify my addictions.
We can all find our way to sobriety with the right supports and believing in ourselves.
I have so much more I want to write about this subject but I’m trying this new thing of keeping my articles to a maximum of 3 pages so perhaps I will do a part 2 to this.
But just remember we are not junkies or drunkards or perverts of lost causes we are just people in pain trying to fill a void with something quick and easy till we can learn and grow and find something better.