Q. What are Addictions?

There are many people who habitually experience strong emotional swings, which drive them to uncontrolled behaviour which they later regret. In this monograph Rev John Tully helps people to understand how these emotions developed and presents people with the hope of controlling feelings so they can make better behaviour choices.

John's particular approach to Addiction Recovery and Prevention is an invaluable tool for many whose struggles in life have made them feel their situation is hopeless. Few things in life can be more rewarding than to draw a despairing person‘s attention to the fact that their Valley of trouble can become a door of hope (Old Testament Scripture; Hosea chapter 2 verse 15) and so introduce them to Awareness of New Hope.

John's unique contribution is based on 40 years of experience facing his own inner struggles and walking the streets of inner Sydney and Gold Coast with people who have no hope beyond the prison of their feelings, Fairlie Everingham, M. B., B.S. Ballina 2001.

The growing child seems to gain the idea “I should not make a mistake” - A mistake is not acceptable to one or other parent or to myself. This leads to an inappropriate belief system where the person grows to believe "I” Should - Have - Always - Mastered - Everything.

Failure to fullil this unrealistic perfectionist idea will lay the foundation for emotional insecurity and cripplingiy low self-esteem. The person begins to live his or her life from within a cocoon or prison of shame Such pain and shame become unbearable. It becomes an identity, it is the way the growing person views and considers himself or herself. This pain must find a balance in pleasure if the pain is to be bearable. The pleasure often comes from ‘acting out’ ‘smoking cigarettes’, ‘drinking alcohol’ to become instantly sophisticated and adult, and experimenting with other chemical substances, ie. Drugs or activities like gambling and sex that bring great pleasures to flood the body.

The ‘Pleasure' message is carried by the neuro-transmitter, Dopamine, once released naturally, by the tastes of food, or the stimulation of praise and a warm cuddle of approval. If the natural release of this pleasure message is iost or denied, a series of introductions by friends or older family members will enable the ‘feeling' and ‘flush’ of pleasure to be released by artificial or inappropriate stimulation.

The feeling can be released on demand by using a ‘substance’ like nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, or any one of a number of substances that are readily available in the ‘supermarket where loneliness, fear and insecurity mingle. The ‘flush of pleasure’ can be released by work, pleasing others, gambling, getting angn/, or the cultivation of ‘lust’ or engaging in an ‘activity', with or without friends. These are many of the addictive substances or activities that various people have used and discovered, which will change feelings, or may be used to avoid loneliness or fear. When used for this purpose, these will, sooner or later, promote shame and reward dependent or addictive behaviour.

There are many addictions that people do not identify as ‘addictive behaviour’ because there are ‘dependencies and addictions', without a substance. The natural balance of pain and pleasure will be inverted by using substances to mask pain. As one very unhappy young person said, when I started taking illicit drugs, especiaiiy heroin, I would sit in the streets and watch all the ‘funny, straight’ people go by. This person was one who could not achieve at school. Normal life was so painful for this young person, and many like him or her, the ‘upside down world' appears more desirable than facing reality.

Shame is very often the engine that drives addiction - shame may have its source in criticism, physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse, as well as poor communication with parents and within the family, or in the rigid dogmatism of un-questioned ‘authority' in the family. Many young people gain a sense of power as they rebel against parental, family and societal values. The pleasure of the power gained through identifying with a subculture or peer-group often reinforces the pleasure of rebellion and may become another addictive agent that imprisons and restricts the true development of the human (humane) person.

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by John Tully
Shame is the engine that drives addictions - John Tully
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