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Underlying Issues

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CF Ambassador
Jan 11, 2020
What are Underlying Issues?
This thread is to discuss underlying issues. This will help you prevent relapse and make you feel better about yourself and about life. Here is a list of underlying issues and what causes them.

o chronic insecurity
o chronic anxiety
o depression
o shame
o low self-esteem
o feelings of alienation
o loneliness
o a profound hunger for love
o an exaggerated fear of abandonment and rejection
o feelings of deprivation
o feelings of emptiness
o anxiety when things are going well

These underlying issues stem from . . .

# Childhood trauma (hospitalization, a death in the family, homelessness, etc.);

# Abuse (physical, verbal, and emotional: at home, school or at church);

# Neglect (both intentional like having an alcoholic parent, and unintentional like having a single parent forced to have two jobs);

# Incest & Sexual trauma (all three kinds of incest (emotional, covert, and overt);

# Abandonment;

# Rejection;

# Feeling unsafe;

# Sibling rivalry that gets violent.

Treating the Underlying Issues of Addiction:
A Non-Clinical Approach

Alcoholics drink because they are depressed, and they are depressed because they drink. Addicts use drugs because they are ashamed, and they are ashamed because they use drugs. Love addicts chase after people because they are lonely, and they are lonely because they chase after unavailable people. What's going on here? Why are addicts acting in such self-defeating ways?

The answer lies in their childhood. Addicts were neglected or abused. They were abandoned or the victims of incest. Addicts experienced some unfortunate incident in their family of origin, and everyone got put on the back burner as the tragedy unfolded. Sometimes it was a death of a family member. According to the experts on childhood trauma, this alters our brain permanently—not to mention the psyche and spirit—the parts of us that need love to thrive.

To avoid the constant cycle of relapse followed by an addict’s return to recovery, they have to deal with these underlying issues. They should seek professional help with someone who understands addiction. This person becomes their “Enlightened Witness,” as Alice Miller explains in her book the Drama of the Gifted Child.

Ask this professional to consider participating in the following process:

1. Admit that you have underlying issues. Nothing can change until you acknowledge that you have a problem.

2. Identify the underlying issues: If you do not remember your childhood look at photographs, talk to siblings, friends or your parents who knew you when you were a child. Meditate or analyze your dreams. The truth will come out if you want it to. Once you are willing to remember, you may start having flashbacks.

3. Talk about what you remember. Talk with your therapist. Don’t stop talking until you have emptied out your pain. Do not for a minute think you are talking too much or bothering someone. You are in recovery. This exercise is not a conversation. You do not have to ask how your listener is feeling. You have to talk and let things you have forgotten seep up from your unconscious.

4. Write in your journal about what you are discovering. As you write, marvelous things you have forgotten will spill out onto the page. This can be a personal journal or you can share it with others.

5. Feel all of your emotions as they come up without using unhealthy mood-altering experiences to distract or sedate you. Addicts don’t like to feel painful emotions. Addicts like to self-medicate. They also like to hide their feelings, repress them, or disassociate from them. Do not let shame stop you from feeling your emotions. There is no emotion that someone should be ashamed of. Even if you did something you regret because of your feelings, you can deal with that later. For now just feel.

6. Grieve what you went through as a child and as an addict. Grieving is similar to my suggestion above. You feel the loss of your childhood. You wish you had not suffered so much. You wish you could have had loving parents. You wanted love. You were a little child and deserved better.

7. Get angry for awhile if you have spent a life time suppressing your emotions. This is an important step in the process. It is part of letting go. When you get angry you are being honest. You are not making excuses for your parents. You are feeling what all children need to feel to survive. At the same time, if you are angry too much learn to process or channel it rather than take it out on others. For more about anger, see Susan Anderson’s book: The Journey from Abandonment and Healing.

8. Do not get lost in the anger. Anger is a “double edged sword.” It is part of the process, not the process itself. As soon as you are able, move on and put this all into perspective. Ask yourself if the people who hurt you abused or neglected? What about your grandparents? If you are a parent did you pass down the pain to your children to ease your own pain.

9. After you put things into perspective, consider letting go of your resentment. You do not have to like the people who hurt you or associate with them, or let them continue to hurt you. I understand that this suggestion is controversial. I talk about this in my book, The Art of Changing. Some professionals say it is not necessary or might even be harmful. Alcoholics Anonymous says it is an absolute imperative. I believe it is important in the process of healing from addiction and other personality disorders.

10. Accept what happened to you. How do you do this? You can’t do it right away. You can’t do it when you want to. You can’t do it while you are in the angry stage. You will do it when you are ready. You can push yourself a little, but balance this with patience. Tell yourself: these are the cards you were dealt and others suffer too. Maybe something good came out of this. I am a teacher because of my painful past.

11. Move on. This is the fun part. You drop all of this. You create a new life. You embrace your present and dream about the future. You live your life of abundance. Of course, the past will come back to haunt you now and then because this is the way the brain works, especially when you go home for the holidays to the scene of the crime, but as time goes on the pain of the past will lessen and come up less often to disrupt your new life in recovery.

12. Take care of yourself. Do for yourself what your parents could not or would not do. When This means a little pampering, forgiving yourself and having fun.

13. Be grateful for this process that is going to free you, change you, and bring you a brighter tomorrow. Gratitude, according to those who know, is an imperative. It takes yourself out of your own misery. If you don’t feel grateful, “act as if.” Fake it until you make it. [These are self-help slogans] One you discover how good being grateful makes you feel, you will never stop.

14. Celebrate your victory and hard work. Use your imagination. What did you do when you graduated or got married or won the lottery? Celebrate your recovery as an addict.

15. Give thanks to the Holy Spirit who has guided you through this process. Ask that others who need help are put in your life.
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