18 May

"Trauma in a person, decontextualized over time, looks like personality. Trauma in a family, decontextualized over time, looks like family traits. Trauma in a people, decontextualized over time, looks like culture."

 Resmaa Menakem

 Addiction is often labeled a disease of perception but it's my belief that is just one symptom that is created to cope with trauma. It is trauma that creates a disease of perception.

It can be big traumas or little traumas and it can be seen on a personal level or at the collective level.

Trauma does not create an excuse for bad behaviors but rather offers a reason. When we can recognize it as a trauma response rather than a personal moral failure it empowers us to make changes.

Some believe people can't change but in fact research shows that our brains are capable of healing through neuroplasticity.

"Because of the power of neuroplasticity, you can, in fact, reframe your world and rewire your brain so that you are more objective. You have the power to see things as they are so that you can respond thoughtfully, deliberately, and effectively to everything you experience.” 

Elizabeth Thornton

So what does this mean and how do we accomplish changing our brains? 

Speaking from my own experience I entered into recovery from addiction. Everyone is an addict. Yes, everyone. Much like other psychological issues, addiction manifests in varying degrees of severity.

 We can easily point to the drunk on the street or the tweaker living in an abandoned building. The obvious devastation of an alcoholic parent or drug addicted spouse.

 These are the ones we talk about, however some people may be overcome by addiction's powerful current while others may experience it more subtly like a dripping faucet. 

A few examples of socially acceptable addictive behaviors are: excessive exercising, binge watching our favorite shows, working, technology, religion, caffeine,sugar, relationships, gaming, thrill seeking, ideologies, perfectionism. There are also a variety of obsessive compulsive behaviors and thinking patterns.

'Soft addictions are an alluring, seductive aspect of our culture - they are easy to attain and socially acceptable, they are even encouraged in many cases. Yet they are lethal to the spirit.' Judith Wright

It doesn't matter the addiction, it matters how it negatively impacts our life. It blocks us from experiencing true joy, changing our perception of reality and creates long-term negative consequences for ourselves and our families. 

The truth is everyone experiences trauma.  Some traumas are more traumatizing than others and the effects on each individual is unique. 

What can we do if we do not feel like we qualify for a particular recovery group or we may have sought therapy or medication but it didn't help?

Trauma work can benefit everyone. Finding a qualified trauma specialist, mindfulness courses along with getting into a small support group or when appropriate seek a 12 step program. 

There are 12 step programs for just about everything and with good reason. The steps work. All it takes is willingness and open-mindedness. 

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