Dually Addicted: Mind and Body

John eats when he’s not hungry. Sue says that she is unhappy with her smoking. Bill says he doesn’t have to, but he drinks a six pack of beer daily just so he can relax. Joan says she can stop using street drugs any time she wants. She just likes starting out the day with a little pick me up. She says they make her feel good. When Betty gets low on her prescription medications for anxiety, she becomes fearful. If she runs out, she panics. Sam yells and screams when he is doesn’t get what he wants. Gloria is depressed unless she has someone loving her. Each of these people has something in common. They are all addicted.

Addictions are not just to substances, such as John’s addiction to food, Sue’s smoking, Bill’s dependency on alcohol, Joan’s daily use of street drugs and Betty’s reliance on prescribed medications. Addictions are also based in life styles, as is the case with Sam’s yelling and screaming to get what he wants or Gloria’s depression when not being loved. Other addictions are seen in various emotional and behavioral responses to needs, desires, expectation, hopes, wants, shoulds and should nots. In fact, these are just the very tip of the iceberg. The number and types of addictions are infinite. You name it, and someone could be or is addicted to it. Some addictions are easily recognized such as alcohol, food and drug addictions. Other addictions are well hidden such as bulimia, anorexia, gambling, shopping, spending money, saving old things, exercise, time schedules and so on. Some addictions are obvious to everyone except the person who is addicted. Still other addictions are even hidden from most professionals, such as temper tantrums, abusive behavior, depression, being right, being wrong, lying and power games. Most professionals see the majority of these examples as forms of simple habits or signs of mental illness. I see them simply as addictions. The only time that they become a mental disease, by my standards, is when the individual is not at-ease with his addiction.

Simply because you have an addiction does not mean that you have a problem, unless of course you are not willing to accept the consequences of your addiction. An alcoholic, who truly believes that he does not have a problem with alcohol, does not have a problem. A problem only arises when he thinks he has a problem, and then obviously he does. Often, others believe that he has a problem and then they make their problem his problem. Now, being an alcoholic is not the problem, but the attitudes and actions of others toward him becomes the problem. Being drunk all your life is not a problem, as long as you are totally willing to accept the consequences of your drinking. Your body will die sooner, and if you can say so what to dying sooner rather than later, then you are willing to accept that consequence. No Problem! You may lose your family, friends and life style, but as long as you are happy with your life style, so what?

Your having an addiction and having a problem with it are not synonymous! An analogy is the homeless. Look at how many homeless people there are in the United States. Not all of them find being homeless a problem. In fact, many would not trade in their life style. Yet, society is continually insisting that being homeless is a problem. Some city governments arrest them, others place them into mental institutions against their will, others force them into shelters and others simply hassle them in order to get them out of their town. The only problem that these homeless people have is with those who do not accept their homelessness. In fact, if you ask the homeless if they are truly homeless, many will say no. They have their own type of home, their own style of living and their own addictions to their life style.

A problem with an addiction arises when you recognize the lack of freedom it creates, the absolute absence of choice, and surprisingly your negative mindset against the addiction. It is important for you to understand exactly what an addiction is. It is a physiological craving. It is an overpowering desire. It is something you cannot do without. As long as you can afford your addiction, you will not easily recognize your lack of freedom and absence of choice. In fact, some of your addictions you will never realize. As long as you do not, or if you do and you don’t mind, then a problem does not exist. The addiction exists, but not a problem.

A closer look is needed. First, your body is craving something: nicotine, alcohol, drugs, love, sex, wanting it your way and so on. As your body begins to experience this craving, certain physiological activities begin to occur. The moment the physiology begins, the mind wants to get whatever will stop the body from feeling the unpleasantness that is starting to happen. In essence, you do not like the physiology. You begin to desire to change your bodily sensations. Your wanting to change your bodily sensations comes from your mind, not your body. Yet, the more your mind wants, the more your body appears to react to the desires of your mind. In the past, changing your unpleasant physiology meant that you would use whatever substance you were addicted to, and poof you changed your physiology.This process only reinforces your mind game of wanting to change based on your physiology.

Now, instead of giving in to your mind game, you decide to say no to your addiction. Unfortunately, as soon as you say that you can't have something, immediately, you begin craving it more. The more you deny yourself, the more you crave. Now, is this craving physiology, or is it your mind creating more physiology than was there in the first place? When God said to Eve not to eat the apple, what happened? The craving, the desire, the wanting became so intense that she was bound to eat it.

Second, when you are experiencing pain, you begin to think it will last forever. This belief is what I call the Law of Forever Now. This means that you believe that whatever you are feeling: the pain, discomfort, emotion or whatever is going on will last forever. In fact, your pain is so great that it seems as if it has always been with you, is with you now, and will always be there. Your mind becomes so focused on whatever you are experiencing, that you do not recognize anything in the past or future that does not conform to your pain. All you know is that you want it to end. You do not want it to last forever, so you begin to wish it away. The more you wish, the more it is present, and the cycle keeps repeating itself. Each time it is repeated, the intensity is enhanced. Now you have moved from a physiological addiction into a psychological addiction. You want it changed now! It does not change now. You then project your pain of this moment into the past and the future. The pain seems to be forever.

Combining the Law of Forever Now with the idea that you must never again indulge in the addiction, creates the impression that the pain is an everlasting phenomenon: that once an addict, always an addict. “I am an alcoholic for life.” “I must always be on a diet.” “I will always be an angry person.” What a mind buster! The more unbearable the addiction becomes, the more your desire to do something about it. The more you think about it, the more it is there. The more it is there, the more likely you are to succumb to the desire in order to get rid of it. You find that the easiest way to deal with it is by indulging in your old addiction or habit. Of course, the thought is there, “Just this once.” This happens over and over and over.

The reality is that the Law of Forever Now is in contradiction with a well-established law of nature. Sadly, very few people recognize this law of nature when they are experiencing something they do not like. This law is called the Law of Evolution. In essence, this law says that everything changes. Nothing ever remains the same. In fact, each moment of your life is totally different from every other moment in your life, regardless of how similar they may appear. The pain, the negativity, the dislike will all change. Nothing remains forever. A great mantra to hold dear to you is, “And this too shall pass.”

Ultimately, your addiction means that you are reacting to your environment and your world, rather than responding to it. John, Sue, Bill, Joan, Betty, Sam and Gloria are all being controlled by their addictions. It doesn’t matter if they are aware of that control or not. The fact is that without their food, drugs or life style, they become lost and frightened. They believe that they have no choice in what they do. They believe that they do not possess the power to change. Even if they deny the presences of their addiction, they still believe they have no choice, but then they rationalize away their lack of power. Not only are they addicted, but they have lost power over their lives because of their addiction. Their lack of control over their addiction, their behavior and their victimhood most frequently result in their looking down on themselves. They see themselves as weak, dejected, rejected and subhuman. They do not like the consequences of their addictions, such as the loss of their families, jobs, money, position in life and belief in who they think they are. Now a problem has arisen.

My original definition of addiction did not go far enough. I said it was a physiological craving, an overpowering desire and something you cannot do without. However, it is much more than that. All addictions actually consist of two addictions. The first addiction is to the physiological craving. Your body craves or desires satisfaction. Most people are familiar with this addiction. The physiological withdrawal is easily seen in the drug addict or the alcoholic. The body craves the substance. The craving creates physiological pain. This pain overrides everything else.

The second addiction is much more insidious, and I have already alluded to it. It is the addiction to the thoughts, beliefs, feelings and psychology of the addiction. Remember, in the physical addiction, the pain is real and foremost in the addict’s mind. This is where the second addiction becomes such a key player. Now, the addiction is not just physiological; it is now both physiological and psychological. The first addiction is hard enough to deal with, but when you combine it with the second, the task seems insurmountable.

When you are physiologically addicted, you will go through some type of bodily withdrawal when you do not fulfill your addiction. What physiological craving does Sam the yeller and screamer, the wife abuser or the love hungry experience? It lies in their emotional state and then is transferred to their physical body. The feelings they experience are the withdrawal syndromes for each person. These feelings are often extremely intense and very powerful, and can affect the physical body. These affects are often experienced as headaches, ulcers, racing heart, stomachaches and so on. Not only are there the emotional upheavals and physiological pain, but there are often behavioral components that are equally strong. These can be crying, laughing, shouting, yelling, screaming, hiding and so on. These emotional and bodily sensations override all other issues, all other needs and all other desires. The person then experiences, just as in substance abuse, the dual addiction of the body and the mind.

To repeat, the second type of addiction is that of the mind. First, the mind addiction centers on the belief that you are addicted. Your emotional addiction results in your believing that you have no choice. You substance addiction also results in your believing that you have no choice. The sad part is that your psychological addiction is actually created through your belief and not reality. The moment you believe that you are addicted, sure enough you are. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, or as I call it, the Law of Limitations. Believe it, and it is yours. If you believe you are addicted, then you are addicted!

Another part of this mind addiction results from the Law of Least Effort. While your body experiences the pain of withdrawal, and your emotions seem to be off the scale, your mind keeps reminding you that all you have to do is indulge your addiction just a tiny bit, and the pain will end. It takes much less effort to give into the addiction than it is to wait for the Law of Forever Now to change course. While you are experiencing the pain, it seems as if it will last forever. You mind believes it cannot and will not accept a sentence of pain forever. Instead, it pushes to eliminate that pain by reminding you that all you have to do is indulge in your addiction. This scenario will not change until you reach a point where you are so tired of the addiction, so tired of trying to change and so tired of the mind games you are playing that you reach a crescendo. Once in that crescendo, you will change. This crescendo happens when you experience the Law of Despair. The moment you reach this point, the direction of the Law of Least Effort also changes. Now it takes less effort to hold out and wait for the pain to subside than it does to remain in the addiction. Even the Law of Forever Now changes once you experience the Law of Despair in its totality. Immediately, you know that this too shall pass. You know that what you are experiencing will not last forever.

This scenario will have to be repeated every time you experience withdrawal symptoms. This is why you must look at the moment, rather than forever. Allow yourself to see each moment and each urge as a separate entity. In this way, the four Laws of Ego will not be able to get a firm grasp on your psyche. When you view your world on a moment to moment basis, the Law of Forever Now cannot keep you locked into your pain. Without the Law of Forever Now, you are able to know that the effort to change is not very significant. The direction of the Law of Least Effort changes much easier. The Law of Limitations is no longer an issue when forever is no longer present. Finally, the point of despair is reached rapidly when you know that this pain is the only pain that you are experiencing. The Law of Despair has an opportunity to reach its peak and move on.

A paradox arises. First, I am saying that you are addicted, and then I am saying that your addiction is only present because you believe it exists. Both are true. What I am saying is that the physiological addiction is present. It is real. The body has a physiological response and dependency on the addiction. By this, I mean the body will go through withdrawal without getting its cravings fulfilled. The interpretation of your physiological responses helps you create your psychological addiction. It is vital for you to understand that all interpretations are judgments made by your mind. They are how you perceive your world based on your learning history and your beliefs, wants, desires, expects, hopes, and so on.

I once worked with a woman who had a full hysterectomy. After her surgery, there were many physiological changes in her body. One change in particular resulted in her belief that she had to kill herself. She interpreted this physiological change as a sign that she must commit suicide. What she was experiencing was a physiological response and not an actual message to harm herself. Her interpretation was faulty. The solution was to help her change her interpretation. I asked her to make a list of positive affirmations and read them four times a day: when she first woke up in the mornings, just before lunch, just before supper and just before going to sleep. She was also to read the list whenever she experienced the physiology that she thought was telling her to kill herself. These affirmations revolved around what a good person she really was, what she had to live for, that the physiology she was experiencing was normal and that it did not mean that she had to harm herself. Her reading theses affirmations countered her negative and suicidal beliefs.

Her husband was a great support throughout her hospitalization and recovery. Before she began reading her affirmations, he showed her his love, affection and concern. He was there when she wanted or needed him. It was obvious that he loved her and was committed to her. Yet, nothing was helping. She was still suicidal. Then, after she developed her affirmation list, he helped her to remember to read it. He reinforced her beliefs that were stated on the list, and he continued to show her his love and affection. Within a month’s time, she stopped having her strong addiction to the physiological responses that she was experiencing. She was interpreting them differently and thus they were not affecting her as they had before the list. The physiology was there as well as her mental addiction to the physiology. Yet, after one month her mental addiction had dissolved. Her physiology remained, but her response and beliefs were very different.

Another example of the process involved in the psychological development of an addiction can be seen in smoking. Sue, who was addicted to cigarette smoking, tried several times to quit in the past. Each time she tried, she failed. Consequently, her idea that she was addicted and couldn’t quit was increased. Her belief system was reinforced. As her belief was reinforced, she became a victim of the Law of Limitations. The more difficult she believed quitting to be, the more difficult it became.

What made it so difficult for Sue to quit? First, is the Law of Limitations. She had heard from friends, family, doctors and the media how difficult it is to quit smoking. This strengthened her experiences of past failures. In addition to strengthening her view of how difficult it had been to quit, it also strengthened her belief that any future attempts would not be any easier. In fact, she believed that any future attempts would be much harder. Her psyche told her to try to stop, not simply to stop. At least, by saying she tried, she could save a small piece of her ego.

Second, she was also a victim of the Law of Forever Now. While she was experiencing withdrawal, her mind kept telling her that the pain, agony and discomfort were going to last forever. Since she was quitting forever, the forever was intensified astronomically. Third, because of the Law of Forever Now, the Law of Limitations and the physiological changes taking place, her mood became unpleasant. She did not want to be a grouch, but believed that she could do nothing about it. She saw herself as being powerless. Then, she formed a new set of beliefs that conformed to the Laws of Ego. She was creating a snowball effect. Instead of simply having the physiology to deal with, she had the physiology and also two very powerful belief systems to contend with.

The Law of Least Effort then came into play. She started engaging in a mental battle of yes or no: to smoke or not to smoke. She knew that all she had to do was take one little puff and she would feel better. She would not be a grouch, the pain in her body would stop, and her negative emotions would end. The Law of Forever Now helped her to decide to smoke, based on the Law of Least Effort. When the smoking side of the war won for even one puff, she believed that she had failed. The Law of Forever Now, the Law of Least Effort and Law of Limitations made that one puff become a total failure. The, “I blew it,” mentality set in and, she said, “What the hell, I can’t do it.” Her one puff negatively reinforced the cessation of all her bad thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. This negative reinforcement increased the likelihood that the next time she experienced this type of pain, she would take another puff in order to escape the pains ugly grasp. Each time this happened, it became easier and easier to give in to smoking until quitting was no longer an issue. She had failed.

Sam, the person who was addicted to yelling and screaming has and addiction that is not much different than the smoking or alcohol addiction. Sam doesn’t get what he wants. His stomach tightens, his chest starts pounding, he feels flushed, and there is tightness around his face. He feels fear because he thinks he is losing power and control over his world, and then that fear either oscillates with anger or is taken over by anger. His fear changes to anger because he believes that he can do something about his loss. When he yells and screams at his wife, she will typically kowtow to him, and he believes that he has his power back. All the negative physiological signs of his addiction vanish. He can now feel pretty good with himself, at least temporarily. If he does not get the response he wants from his wife, his behavior intensifies. Perhaps, he may even hit her, or abuse her in some other way. He will raise the stakes until he gets the response he desires. Sam’s addictive physiology is present, as well has his addictive psychology.

Remember that these are just a few possible scenarios. Yet, regardless of which scenario is present, the same Laws of Ego are in effect. There may be variations, but the basics are the basics. The Law of Limitations, the Law of Forever Now and Law of Least Effort will keep Sally smoking and Sam fighting until they experience the Law of Despair in its totality. Once they reach that point, they will stop their addictive behaviors. However, how long they stop engaging in their addictions is another issue. They may not stop forever. Once all the negativity of smoking and fighting have gone, they may rationalize that having a cigarette now and then is not going to cause her to start smoking again, or Sam’s fighting again is not an issue. They would be right. Unfortunately, once they give in to their urges, their emotional state and their mental games revolving around their addictions will start again. If they are aware of their games and are able to make real choices, by not allowing the Laws of Ego to control them, they will be able to engage in their addictive behaviors now and then without becoming addicted. However, the likelihood of this happening is very slim. The mind rationalizes, and the addiction slowly starts again.

This process is true of all addictions. Each time a person goes on a diet and fails, she strengthens the belief that dieting is impossible. Each time he goes on the wagon and fails, the addiction to alcohol is strengthened, each time the wife-abuser says he is sorry and will never strike his wife again and then does, his addiction becomes stronger. What is truly significant is that the physiological addiction may become strengthened a little each time, but the psychological addition is strengthened exponentially. The psychological addiction just keeps getting stronger.

What makes up the psychological addiction is very interesting, and once really understood, it becomes much more changeable, pliable and manageable. Understanding the four Laws of Ego allows you the opportunity to recognize when they are in effect. This understanding also helps to reduce the power they have over you. This will then allow the Law of Despair to happen at a much earlier stage. It’s like the difference between watching a horror movie that you have never seen and one that you have seen repeatedly. A horror movie that you have never seen can be a catalyst for fear, shock, squeamishness and perhaps a desire to cover your eyes. However, the more frequently you see the same movie, the less you are affected. In fact, you can watch the movie, see all the nuances develop, and be totally unaffected because you know what to expect. The same thing happens when you are aware of your addiction and the process you go through when wanting to change it.

How do you overcome any addiction that has become a problem? The answer is so simple that it defies the mind. The answer is awareness: awareness of this moment! When you have awareness, you make your decisions based on this moment, not some future goal. Yes, a goal can be developed, but your decision each moment is based on your awareness and what is perfect for you in this moment. In this way, you know that you are making the decision now, that you can change your mind at any time, and that you are not going to have to go through this for the rest of your life. By having awareness, you become cognizant of each moment that is free of urges and each moment that contains an urge. You are aware the moment one changes into the other.

When you have awareness of each moment, you can rejoice in it. You can respond to one urge at a time. You are not fettered with the Law of Forever Now. Alcoholics Anonymous talks about taking one day at a time. This is far better than the idea of quitting forever, but one day at a time is far too much time. Take things one moment at a time. Make the decision each moment of your life. Become the master of your destiny. By developing awareness of this moment, you are no longer projecting into the future. You are no longer creating and allowing the Law of Forever Now to function. The Law of Limitations is destroyed. The Law of Least Effort is not even an issue. Even the Law of Despair ceases to exist in the moment. How can they exist in NOW? This moment has no yesterdays or tomorrows, and these are the only places that any of the Laws of Ego can exist. Become total in this moment, and your decision becomes simple.

The addiction of the body is relatively easy in comparison to the addiction of the mind. The mind’s addiction must be recognized, accepted and ultimately dropped. Awareness is your only option. Unless you go deeply into awareness, you will always be controlled by outside forces. Unless you go deeply into awareness, you will be the victim of drugs, money, food and desire. Going deeply into awareness can happen only by first reflecting back on your Trinity of Life: thoughts, feelings and behaviors so that you understand you. From there, you will move from the witness into moment-by-moment awareness. You can greatly aid this process through meditating on a daily basis. You will be able to really see and become who you are, and you will find the perfection that you are in this moment, the NOW.

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