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Understanding the Cycle of Addiction

What addicts find in their object of addiction, whether it is a substance or a behavior, is an attachment figure. In addition to feeling good, the use of drugs and mood altering behaviors fulfills emotional and interpersonal needs, providing the user with a means to compensate for any deficits in these domains of self. Where these deficits exist, so does the potential for an addictive relationship.

The attached video is taken from a talk by psychologist and spiritual teacher, Ram Dass, in which the use of spiritual practices is described as a means of breaking the cycle of addiction.

Those who experience early childhood attachment disruptions often come to find a means of self-regulation in an addictive object or behavior which they come to depend on in the same sense that babies depend on the mother.

When we are born, we lack the ability to regulate emotions and understand mental states of self and others. These abilities are cultivated through attachment to a primary object (object here meaning person), usually the mother, who provides a secure base and a working model of relationships.

The primary object, through synchronous behavior with the infant, lays the foundations for the development a self-regulating person, forming a secure attachment. When this is not achieved, the infant develops an insecure or disrupted form of attachment. The attachment style acquired during infancy and early childhood continues throughout the lifespan and early attachment disruption lead to problems at different stages of development.

Substance Use Disorders are among the list of problems associated with insecure attachment.

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