The disease of addiction is a significant problem, but many people assume that the actual disease is the root problem. Not necessarily. Rather, addiction can be the side effect of a much bigger issue. After all, if addiction were the primary issue, then when an addict stops drinking or drugging, their lives ought to become all bright and cheery in no time, right?
The reality is that many recovering addicts’ lives don’t change for the better unless they realize that their addiction may be a byproduct of larger issues. Once they realize this, they must make a commitment to digging deep within themselves to uncover the related root issues, and contend with them.
The issues at the core of addiction could be a variety of things. Common root issues are dysfunctional childhoods, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, toxic relationships, neglect, rejection, poor life choices, and more. There is actually a long list of root issues that could lead to addictive tendencies. The first step is to realize that the addiction is a side effect of one or more of these root issues. Then the real work begins: excavating layer after layer of “junk” to get to those core issues.
How to Unearth the Root Issues Underlying Addiction
There are several ways you can get to the root issues of your addiction. Resolving to see a counselor is a wise idea, as counselors can help you unearth the emotions or life events that contributed to your picking up booze or drugs in the first place. It will serve you well to commit to therapy for a period of time in order to sort things out. You can discuss your past, old wounds, fears, and anything else on your mind. Counselors can help you see things from a different perspective. They have been trained to help remove blocks that keep people stuck, so that they move go on and create better lives for themselves.
The length of time you ought to see the counselor is up to you. Some people need a couple of months and some people need a year or more. Each person’s needs and desires will vary. Discuss the frequency and length of time with your counselor and commit to the plan you come up with.
The 12 Steps of Addiction Recovery
12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous have a workbook covering the 12 Steps of recovery. To unearth your root issues, working through those steps with a sponsor will certainly help. Step 4 will have you complete a moral inventory, where you will be asked to revisit your past and answer many questions about it. You will be prompted to contend with feelings haven't faced in years. It might be difficult to get through some of the questions, but it is necessary in order to move forward with your recovery. In Step 5 you will go over your answers to the Step 4 questions with your sponsor, which might sound scary, but it will feel pretty good to get everything out.
Writing: A Tool in Recovery
There is therapeutic value in writing or journaling through addiction recovery. Perhaps you can write about your childhood days, significant events, past relationships, and so on in order to begin unearthing root issues. As negative feelings surface, you can contend with them, process them, and then let them go. Journaling is certainly recommended as a tool to help you re-examine life’s issues, and offers significant therapeutic value. It’s also nice to have a journal to look back through over the years to see how you’ve changed and grown, or just to reminisce about your life.
The disease of addiction is cunning and baffling. When it comes to getting sober and staying sober, don’t neglect to address possible core issues that led to your addiction in the first place. Consider seeing a counselor to discuss the topic, especially if you are contending with negative emotions like depression, anger, resentment, and fear. With support and guidance, you can get to the root issues, contend with them, and overcome them, leading you to feel happier as you move forward in your life.