Seeing addiction as a guide post in our personal development and understanding there’s nothing wrong to fix.
We all understand that addiction is a signal to a deeper problem. While I whole-heartedly support the healing efforts of anyone in the throes of serious addiction, it seems that we create more problems for ourselves when we fight addiction before we understand it. Our society has created an addiction to addictions. The airwaves are filled with reality TV shows profiling drug and alcohol interventions and pitting obese contestants against each other in a race to lose the most weight. This kind of sensationalized spectacle only titillates the voyeurs and does little to help those who are really struggling. We’ve become so fascinated by the drama surrounding addiction that it creates a distraction from the deeper issue that’s feeding it. It’s great that someone can lose 200lbs on TV, but what happens when the show is over and they have to go home? What happens in a year or ten years later?
The idea that addictions are utterly and socially unacceptable has led to a new problem: the addiction to “fixing” ourselves. When we struggle with addiction, we think there is something wrong with us. We’re inherently broken in some way. It only adds fuel to the fire of addiction to feel we’re inferior or damaged in comparison to everyone else. No one wants to be inferior or a social outcast, so we set to work immediately to “get the weight off” or “beat this habit”. There’s a lot of pressure to be perfectly well-adjusted in our society or at least pretend that you are. Taking action is a positive step but focusing on the physical while missing the deeper message of addiction will net little, if any lasting effect.
“It’s no coincidence that the word Addiction literally means ‘to be near that which produces growth.’”
What if we could see ourselves as whole right now, just as we are, addictions included? If we could see our addiction as a guidepost in our personal development just like any other life experience, then we wouldn’t be broken. There would be nothing to “fix”. We could feel whole right now and healing could begin.
The word “addiction” has two origins. Ad means “to be near”. The last half comes from the Latin word cere or facere meaning “to produce by growth or bring forth”. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the word addiction literally means “to be near that which produces growth”.
When we release the judgments surrounding addictions, we can see them for what they are: catalysts that bring forth the energy within us that most needs healing. Why would we want to fight something or worse, ignore something that’s working so strongly for our betterment? If we can see our addictions in this light, we’re able to release the need to be “socially acceptable” and stop focusing on the physical or trying to fix ourselves. We can devote this resistant energy to working with our addictions on a deeper level to reveal the messages they’re so desperately trying to send us.
I tell all my patients that love and gratitude are the two most powerful tools for personal change. That’s not a feel-good phrase. I’ve seen the power at work in my own life. At the door to my office, there is a rock that reads: (GR)attitude. It’s my way of reminding patients that a healing, thankful frame of mind is all about having the right attitude and seeing things like addiction in the right way. There is also a doormat that reads, “Regardless of where I have been, I choose to step into my loving.” The most loving action we can take toward ourselves is to stop self-judgment. In that space, we can see ourselves as whole right now and have gratitude for the perfection of every experience that’s bringing forth our healing, including addiction.
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.