Addiction and Powerlessness
The Loss of Happiness
Barbara’s experience in standing up for herself illustrates yet another important truth about addiction. We can’t find happiness when we give away our power. To be happy, we must have our personal power and maintain our emotional balance.
Those who habitually give away their power are in danger of developing an addictive personality. Having effective boundaries and standing up for ourselves is one of the only safeguards we possess in protecting our power from the ravages of addiction. The person with an addiction has few healthy boundaries. He turns to substance abuse, drugs, alcohol, sex, or other behaviors to replace his loss of power and numb his feelings of toxic shame and the deep sense of inadequacy that accompanies his shame. While an addiction may temporarily suppress feelings of self-hatred and low self- esteem, it can never resolve deep-seated emotional problems.
How an Addiction Amplifies Pain
In masking his pain with drugs, alcohol, and sex, the person suffering from an addiction only amplifies that pain. By giving away his power, the person with an addiction intensifies his anguish. By refusing to face his pain, he unwittingly places himself in a destructive psychological bind. Whatever he flees from becomes larger and more powerful than he is. Whatever is more powerful than he is, owns him. His addiction becomes the driving force in his life. When that happens, his power is no longer his. It has been transferred to what he fears most and adamantly refuses to face. His life is ruled by his repressed toxic shame. His addiction has neutered him and leads to a path of ever increasing self-destructive behavior.
Addiction and the Consequences of Becoming Less Conscious
The person with a history of addiction has no access to any positive aspect in his psyche. His only thought is to flee from the burden of his life and the weight of responsibility for his growth by making himself less conscious. What the person in the grips of an addiction fails to realize is that the only way to resolve his problems is to become more conscious, not less. However, becoming conscious takes work and commitment, and the person with an addiction has no interest in working on himself. While he may not know it, his ultimate goal is self-destruction. He is thoroughly immersed in his negative ego and totally ensconced in the role of victim.