I heard a Tedtalk once where Johann Hari discussed addiction as being synonymous with bonding and it's antithesis as one of disconnection. In short, through experimentation they found that true bonding counteracted the desire to use. In one experiment they observed a rat in an empty cage with a bottle of water vs a bottle of heroine. Because 100% of these rats they studied continued to feed from the heroine bottle the researchers assumed the drug was to blame for the outcome. But when they set up the cage to include other elements: other rats to interact and mate with, activities and other stimuli...they found that none of the rats continued to feed from the bottle that contained the heroine and 100% drank from the water! In his words "What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment? Human beings have a natural need to bond and when you are not getting that from your environment because of trauma or something else, you will bond and connect with something because that is our nature."
Lately, I've observed people who are new to sobriety and now at 18 months I can see the struggle. The problem with coming off anything is that in the beginning we are unable to connect with people anyway. So these new people join groups, etc and when everyone else seems to be connecting they think geez what is wrong with me? Then they revert back to thinking about the tight bond they had not only with drugs/alcohol, but with their associations and those bonds seem to be more real and authentic than anything they could possibly contrive in their waking life. I'm beginning to explain this to people who come in, don't expect to connect right away. Expect to feel uncomfortable and like you aren't connecting. Expect to feel like a fraud sometimes, like you should be happy when in reality you are not. Learn to own your spectrum of emotions and be okay with it. Compound emotions are part of being an intuitive, sensitive, well rounded and joyful person. It takes a lot of blind faith to believe that time will fix your broken connection issues, but I tell people to shoot for a year. If life doesn't get better then there is no reason to do this. Maybe for some it does not, but I haven't seen that happen yet among the people I've seen come and go.
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A writer living in Portland, OR looking to meet Chuck Palahniuk. Single mom to 2 boys, sales agent and lawyer-in-training.