The Etiology (Formation) of Addiction

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We are not addicted to a substance or behavior; we’re addicted to escaping reality.

When our early-life caregivers are absent, impaired, addicted, neglectful, anxious, inconsistent, intrusive, overbearing, or similarly unreliable in terms of creating a consistent sense of safety, we orient during our formative years not to security, but to threat and danger. This experience (more about surviving than thriving) stunts our ability to confidently explore the world and to grow in healthy ways. Moreover, we tend to feel anxious about self, others, and the world. We consistently feel insecure, and as we grow into adulthood, we learn unhealthy, maladaptive ways to cope with that insecurity – including the use of addictive substances and behaviors as a way to ‘numb out’ and ‘not feel’ our emotional discomfort.

Task for Today
Share about an episode of childhood trauma in therapy or a 12-Step meeting.