“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is human connection.” Johann Hari
Addictions is a part of many people’s lives. Whether we are addicted to our devices, sugar, food, work, alcohol or drugs, most of us use something to numb any pain or discomfort we experience. Addictions take us away from the present self which is composed of a historical self that we may not be able to bear. I agree with Gabor Mate who explains that the addiction is the secondary problem, the primary problem is the pain and that is what I believe we need to focus on in therapy if we are to heal.
I view addictions as a symptom of trauma and a coping strategy rather than as a problem in itself. Therefore, when addressing addictions, I likely will not focus on the substances, but rather on discovering the whole person who has hidden themselves behind the addiction.
I offer both psychotherapy and yoga therapy as complementary strategies to move towards more presence and the integration of trauma symptoms into the narrative of the self.
Psychotherapy offers an understanding of the ways that addictions have manifested to protect you. It offers a deep connection to an empathic and attuned professional providing an experiential learning about healthy, boundaried relationships and how these types of relationships can provide support for the self.
Many people who abuse substances have experienced difficult, abusive or unsupportive relationships, engaging in psychotherapy can provide a new experience of relationship. It can also bring up these old wounds and when these enactments occur, we can work through them in the therapeutic connection. The secure base of the psychotherapy relationship can open the possibility to risk connection with others knowing that the therapeutic relationship is there to support you as you test the waters of presence in relationship.
Psychotherapy can also be used to work through relational issues that can arise with family members and intimate partners. Often, working with these close relationships and deepening these bonds can provide support as the “addict” moves through their healing process.
Yoga therapy offers a daily practice to connect to the self through diet and lifestyle change, movement, breath, chanting and meditation. These practices realign the physical, physiological and psychological aspects of the self bringing the person’s being into focus and the sense of self back into awareness. It can also offer a way to be with the pain of the past as it arises in the present and to soothe this pain creating new neural pathways that better fit your life as it is today.