7.0 Editor's Pick
March 3, 2018

Changing these Beliefs about Addiction can facilitate a Faster Recovery.

The agony of watching someone we love destroy themselves is a pain with which too many of us are familiar.

Equally, there are many of us who have been the ones caught in self-destructive loops, either helpless or unwilling to change.

It’s a rare thing to come across a person who’s not been affected, in some way, by addiction.

I’ve personally experienced both sides; I’ve been the onlooker as tragedy unfolded, and I’ve also been the one marching down the path of self-annihilation—alcohol being my weapon of choice.

At the age of 24, I found myself in my first “Alcoholics Anonymous” meeting. I’ll spare you the details of what led me there, but suffice to say it was messy!

As I sat looking around the room, scanning all manners of faces—some worn and haggard, some bright and luminous—I remember clearly how struck and endeared I was by the connection, the empathy, and the palpable love and respect among everyone.

People shared their tales of self-loathing and redemption, some poetic and articulate, others mumbling and still weighted with shame. 

It was a life-changing experience.

Although I only attended a few meetings and subsequently continued to drink, it served as the catalyst for a process of gaining a whole new understanding of myself and life.

And so, now—over a decade later—my intention is to create some space around this topic and lighten up what is typically a heavy and charged subject for most of us.

I know only too well how overwhelming it can be as things approach crisis point.

This is an invitation to a more expanded perspective that may restore hope and refine the process of recovery for you or your loved one.

We’ll examine some some beliefs that are widely accepted collectively, all highly rational mainstream perspectives (which can be entirely validated and justified with lots of evidence, by the way).

This is not an argument for or against these beliefs, but rather, an invitation to look at the unconscious energetic implications of them.

I’ll explain how they can render recovery a slower and more difficult process than it potentially could be.

So to start, here are some recent statements from highly reputable bodies on the subject of addiction:

1. Harvard Health:

“Most important lesson of all in recent discoveries may be that addictions are chronic conditions for which there are treatments, but rarely simple cures…”

2. American Society of Addiction Medicine:

“Addiction is a primary chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations…”

3. Columbia University’s Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse:

“Few evidence-based practices in addiction treatment are deemed universally effective—varying for each individual, their situation, and substance abuse.”

4. Recovery.org:

“An ‘addictive personality’ is a colloquial or informal term based on the belief that certain people have a particular set of personality traits that predisposes them to addiction.”

These clearly illustrate some mainstream perspectives such as:

>> Addiction is a disease. 

>> Addiction can only ever be managed, rarely cured.

>> Addiction is the result of a psycho-social-biological matrix.

>> Once an addict, always an addict—it’s a lifetime sentence.

>> The belief in the existence of addictive personalities.

These are commonly held perspectives, some verified by scientific research and others simply by anecdotal evidence—and so, again, just to emphasize: this is not a debate as to whether they’re correct or not.

Rather, this is simply an acknowledgement of what we unconsciously create when we align and agree with them—and an invitation to explore a potentially greater perspective.

Three energetic implications:

1. Objectifying addiction creates stagnation.

When we refer to addiction in the same way we would talk about a physical thing, we objectify it.

This may seem like a harmless thing to do or a simple issue of semantics, but its not—it makes a big difference when we examine it on an energetic level.

By labeling what is, in essence, as a chronic, repetitive pattern of thought and action, we unconsciously give the formless a sort of pseudo-form. Something which is actually inherently fluid, dynamic, and non-physical begins to take on qualities like those of a physical object.

It starts to gain both weight and presence, as well as something over which there can be ownership—that is…“my addiction.”

Then, it’s further solidified when we perceive it as a disease (even though this can be justified). In the confines of our minds, it becomes something you can be afflicted with or a victim of.

Objectifying addiction in this way unconsciously makes it more rigid and difficult to change. 

2. Identifying with addiction creates a sense of permanence.

“I am an addict.”

“I am addicted to _______.”

“I have an addictive personality.”

When addiction is woven like a dark thread through the fabric of who we believe we are, it unconsciously creates a sense of permanence. Using it as a reference for self-definition continues to give it substance and further solidify it.

Who and what we believe we are informs our worldview; it constantly shapes us and influences how we feel and act.

We have the ability to choose who and what we are on an ongoing basis—and despite the past, we can always choose something different.

“It’s just who I am/the way I am.”

Holding onto this identity-based point of view unconsciously creates resistance to change and the constant need for vigilance, even in abstinence.

Energetically, this creates a constant internal resistance to what one believes is an inherent aspect of self. But, the good news is that when we change core identity beliefs, the limitations and confines of seeing oneself as an addict, or believing you have an addictive personality, are lifted.

This creates space for you to experience something new and to embody different qualities—like putting on a new set of clothes. This restores a more transient quality to previous behaviors and choices, and it creates more space for change.

3. Viewing addiction as a problem that needs to be fixed slows the energy flow.

On a rational level, it makes sense to want to find a solution to the perceived problem.

But, the thing is that when we focus on something with our attention, we energize it; we reinforce its existence. And so, by directing our focus toward fixing “the problem,” we are paradoxically once more making it more real and solidifying it.

This is not an efficient way to instigate change—with part of our energy unconsciously invested in maintaining the problem by believing in its existence, and the other directed toward countering it with a solution.

It creates an energetic split and a tug of war arises—pushing and pulling against each other.

The more streamlined alternative is to simply focus on creating a situation or circumstance that renders the perceived problem obsolete. Envision a condition or circumstance in which it simply cannot co-exist, and focus all attention and energy toward creating that outcome.

In this way, all the energy flows in one direction—no resistance, no push—and a faster resolution is highly more likely.

So, instead of having the perspective one needs to cure the addiction, in contrast, simply becoming more present, self-aware, and highly conscious could be a more effective intention.

Having to find a cure is driven by necessity and urgency; it’s heavy and contracted, while the latter has more lightness, space, and expansion to it…more flow.

In conclusion.

The alternative to the mainstream perspective on addiction could be, instead, to choose to:

>> Stop objectifying addiction—see it as a pattern of thoughts and behavior, despite how chronic and severe it may be in expression.

>> Stop identifying with it—honour our innate capacity for continuous change and fluid self-expression.

>> Stop seeing it as a problem—focus on creating a condition or outcome in which it cannot coexist.

This simple energetic refinement could serve to greatly accelerate positive change.

I’ve been learning about expanding consciousness for over 12 years, and the more conscious and self-aware I’ve become, the less that “addiction” featured in my life; it naturally faded and never required to be directly fixed or healed.

The freedom this has given me is that I don’t see alcohol as an issue anymore and I can enjoy a drink if I choose.

My self-destructive behavior was only ever a symptom—a natural side effect—of not knowing how to be in conscious connection with a more expanded dimension of myself.

When that was restored—hey, presto, it was goodbye impulses to numb out, distract, and self destruct.

So, my parting invitation would be to focus on establishing that connection, as there’s no faster, healthier way I know of for us to relieve our suffering and restore a sense of power and clarity.

Please know, from my heart to yours: there is hope. Instant change has very real potential when we open up to it.


**Author’s note: If this resonated with you, I’ve created a free, one-hour online workshop to go deeper into this—it includes a 25-minute guided clearing process to experiment with this for yourself.



Changing the Way we Think about Addiction.

The Mistaken Identity Model of Addiction.

5 Mindful Things to do Each Morning:



Author: Sarah Keane
Image: Unsplash/Casper AprikatisUnsplash/Thomas Picauly
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Travis May

Read 45 Comments and Reply

Read 45 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Sarah Keane