I have somewhat recently discovered the website upliftconnect.com. The organization has been around since December 2012. From their website:
"UPLIFT is actually an acronym…. for Unity, Peace and Love In a Field of Transcendence."
They have a wonderful description of their mission, a small part of which I have put below with a link to their website.
"Anchored in the fundamental belief that together we are far greater than the sum of our parts, UPLIFT is an opportunity to dream huge… and together to ignite a powerful, positive wave of unified action in the world."
Originally, this website came to my attention when I was working in an intensive program for dual diagnosis clients (mental health & addiction). The article was published in 2015 by author Jonathan Davis and is titled, "The opposite of addiction is connection". The article referenced the "rat park study", which has been long used as a foundation of a more modern understanding of addiction. The rat park study essentially claimed that the pull of addiction was based on environmental factors. Years later, Johann Hari performed research that he states demonstrates that the "rat park study" was flawed in that when rats in his revamped experience had social connections, the pull of addiction was lessened.
Now, this is a VERY simplified explanation. I think there is a desire to find "the cause" of addiction, or any issues really, but life isn't that simple is it? How many times have you thought, if there was only a magic pill for this, that, or the other thing? But, usually its a combination of things that both cause issues and cure issues. It would be nice if we could point to something and say, "That- work on that one thing and everything else will fall in place." Alas, when talking about addiction, often people do say that to the person struggling, "Just stop using/drinking/doing that, and everything will fall into place".
This well-meaning and hopelessly optimistic statement simplifies the disease of addiction and in simplifying it, lessens our ability to battle the disease. Think of a purely medical diagnosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, the doctor will say to change diet, exercise, sleep patterns, manage stress better, and take 2 of these a day. That's 5 things! FIVE treatments essentially. Five things to change. I swear that doctors have "lose weight and exercise" on auto script. And we nod and say yes yes yes- because yes, we know we have to exercise and eat better...but life....right?
So getting back to the addiction connection, how can we say, STOP DRINKING, as if it is that easy.
Really, we need to look at a lot of things, from the thing that drew the person to using a substance or addictive action, to the things that have been impacted by the addiction, to creating or re-creating identity and self-esteem.
One element is connection. I disagree with those who say that is the "root cause" of addiction. I don't know that I will know the root cause of addiction in my life time but I believe that would be down to our DNA, genetics. If there is an "addiction gene" then turning that off might be the root cause. I do know that when we look at the multi-layered things that our lives are built on and around, connection is one of those things.
Connection can be social, friends, families, romance, but we also have spiritual connections, connections to our inner selves, connection to nature, connection to art, and so forth. So connection, as an aspect impacting addiction, means finding a connection to something.
I worked with two other tremendously talented clinicians in the intensive dual diagnosis program and we agreed that you don't have to do AA or NA but you do have to do something. AA and NA are great programs, built in sober networks, something to do, someplace to go other than a bar or your dealer or the casino, people who understand but I can't claim it is right for everyone. What I do see is that the need for a connection, a relationship, to something other than the addictive substance or behavior. The need to fill the space left by taking away the addiction.
A lot of people with addiction issues that I work with describe their interactions with the substance or behavior as a relationship. I agree. It is a relationship. It is a connection. Is it a healthy one? No, but at one point it did work, otherwise we wouldn't do it.
Is connection the magic pill? No, but we as humans need connections. A pet, a person, a place....something. Addiction is a relationship that is strong and will try to "win you back". Addiction will sense weakness or stressful times and poke you, whispering, "C'mon, I'll help you deal with this". Its an insidious and evil relationship. Other relationships and other connections are a good way to combat the evil.
To those out there struggling with alcohol, drugs, gambling, gaming, food, sex, adrenaline....and so on, hang on, you can do this and you can find connections. You can find a new relationship that will make you turn away from the addiction relationship because someone or something will be there for you, just as your addiction was always there for you, this connection will be there for you.
Be well and remember to live, breathe, love, create your life and yourself!
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