Me, An Addict? No Way!
While the word addict generally conjures up images of heroin or methamphetamine users, or perhaps a wild scene from the hit show Breaking Bad, I truly believe that most of us suffer from compulsive behavior in one form or another.
While these addictive tendencies may not be as life-threatening as using the aforementioned drugs, we often don’t realize how much harm we are causing ourselves.
Examples of common compulsive activities include:
- Shopping, collecting things, materialism
- Video games, sports, travel, excessive spending of money
- Pornography, sex, love
- Gambling, sports betting, lotto
- Television, movies, TV series
- Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.)
It is important to note that most, if not all of the above behaviors, when experienced in moderation and for the right reasons, are perfectly fine.
The behavior becomes compulsive when it is done as a way to avoid painful feelings, numb yourself, and/or escape from reality.
As explained in Tara Brach’s podcast episode “The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Working with Attachments and Addictions,” most of us have something (or multiple things) in our lives that are compulsive and harmful to us. Things that we use to feel better in the short term, rather than face and move through the pain in our life, often triggered by our careers, relationships, families or other stressors.
For many years, I used work as a way to escape. I wanted positive attention and noticed that we lived in a success-obsessed society. I dove into my work as a way to avoid my pain.
After graduating law and business school, I worked in very stressful Wall Street firms. Being a workaholic wasn’t enough. I began adding more compulsive behaviors to my “emotional numbing toolkit” such as alcohol, escapism solo travel, food, excessive spending, and pornography. These behaviors were all ways in which I sought to escape my emotions, the pain, and reality.
I was in denial about it for years, but thankfully with the help of an amazing therapist, I was able to uncover my compulsions.
You Are Not Your Mind
If you are serious about making a change, the first step is to read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Also, George Collins’ Breaking the Cycle discusses similar topics of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and learning how to separate ourselves from our mind.
The Sinclair Method
Another extremely effective tool for cleaning up your compulsion(s) is The Sinclair Method, which treats the chemical part of your addiction with an opioid antagonist such as Naltrexone. I am very, very rarely in favor of medication generally, but this method has success rates nearing 90%.
Breaking the Cycle by George Collins
One Little Pill movie (Sinclair Method documentary)
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Reddit forums: Nofap and Pornfree
Documentary on Anthony Weiner: Weiner (2016)
Tara Brach’s “The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” Talk