by Shari Rhodes

Addict To give or devote (oneself) persistently or habitually, to cause, pursue or practise continuously.
Addiction The state of being addicted to a habit, eg: to the taking of narcotic drugs

What drives us to reach for drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, sugar, gambling, overwork and sex when we know these substances and activities in excess are not good for us? Studies show addictions can be genetically based with a physiological hook. We know intoxicants play with the neurochemicals in the brain pushing serotonin, dopamine and neuroadrenaline. We feel the rush of an insulin spike from lots of sugar that kick starts our energy before the drop only minutes later. We feel juiced by the surge of cortisol and adrenaline in our central nervous system pushing our parasympathetic and adrenals into over drive with the use of stimulants. We crave the energy, the juice, and the high even though we recognize the consequences of the crash of blood sugar, the fall of serotonin and dopamine resulting in the depletion in our nervous system. This can result in toxicity in the liver. But even with the headache, exhaustion and sickness from hangover and withdrawal, we come back again and again for the fast fix. We try to abstain and some of us do come clean. However many of us stay on the treadmill falling back to the familiar comforts of the addictive substance trying to quit, but caught in the loop.

The push/pull of the addictive urge can be really intense, especially coming off heroin and alcohol. Even clean, the craving can be always with us. The symptoms of withdrawal, headache, vomiting, mood swings, chills, fever, hallucinations and confusion are full on. The drive toward relief is intense. It can lead many addicts to a life of prostitution and crime, anything to get the fix. It is a constant battle. In America, many people are living on the streets, penniless and homeless, without family or government support, scrambling for their next high. Their whole existence is driven by intense cravings. Life crisis and the physical, neurological and emotional dependency stimulate the need of chemical relief. The addict becomes obsessed and can’t focus on anything else until the next high. And once he comes down, he wants it again and again. Many addicts lose their sense of self, pride and dignity living from fix to fix, never getting their cravings under control and life becomes a constant battle fighting these powerful urges. Though there are methadone programs and rehab clinics, many addicts never beat the battle with drugs and alcohol. The compulsive drive to use becomes too much. It takes over their life.

So beyond the physical hooks, what prompts us to keep coming back to our addictions? Some of us are still tormented by the traumas of our past, those unsettling wounds and upsets still lingering from childhood that still bother us. We remember and reflect on how we felt betrayed, abused, abandoned, unloved and not acknowledged in the way we wanted growing up. We wonder why didn’t our parents love us better and then carry resentments, anger, pain and frustration over the loss of that love and nurture we so richly felt we deserved. Some of us close our hearts and shut down in our relationships, block our successes and keep ourselves small because we don’t think we deserve better. We shut out our feelings with a glass of wine, a bar of chocolate and a few tranquilizers. Maybe the pain will go away. Maybe I can push it down, run from the burning volcano threatening to erupt inside, threatening my perceived security of who I think I am. It takes courage to face our selves in the mirror, address and resolve our pain from the past. We have to be willing to accept responsibility, put the story down and move forward with our lives. Internalizing family pain from the past only reinforces the addictive hooks to try and push it down.

With the responsibilities and pressures of daily life, the job, trying to manage the home and bank account, take care of the kids, pay the mortgage, maneuver in traffic, shop, do laundry, the list is endless and can feel full on and just too much. We think where is the time for me to do the things that bring satisfaction and joy? What about my need to feel juiced, inspired and alive? Our society conditions us to work hard, be responsible, and be adult, practical and grounded. Though some people do actualize their dreams, many of us are still waiting. We say to ourselves maybe I will take that painting, photography or dance class, write a novel, travel to the Bahamas, build that new house later, when the kids are grown, there is more money in the bank, my relationship improves, I lose weight or I feel healed enough inside to try. Maybe I will work through my fears and emotional blocks first. Maybe someday when my life is better and I have more time, I will leave my abusive marriage or wait until God decides to hand me a new life on a platter. Maybe someday when things change. However what we fear most often presents the greatest learning opportunity to know ourselves in a new way. Challenging new experiences can offer new perspective and excitement in life. If we don’t take risk, life stays the same.
I think most of us fear change. Even though we complain about our challenging plight, we unconsciously feel a sense of security, safety and familiarity in our comfort zones. Even though it is not perfect, we know this life. It takes courage to face our fears, blocks and resistances to walk though the uncomfortable territory of the unknown and create new goals. What we say to ourselves is critical interms of what we allow ourselves to have in life. We run negative tapes from the past or simply don’t feel good enough. We think why should we have more than our parents when they struggled so hard to raise us. We keep ourselves down by not feeling worthy of the good things in life. However saying “no” to ourselves and our deepest yearnings is a killer to the spirit and keeps us locked in the need to escape our created world that brings with it discontentment and dissatisfaction. We stay in unhealthy intimate relationships that don’t nourish our needs of intimacy and heartfelt communication because we say to ourselves this is what it is, I cant get what I want, I need the financial security or support with the kids, this is all that I deserve or its too hard to change. We keep ourselves down. We play small because many of us don’t feel worthy of a substantial life of meaning. The learning curve is to have faith and trust and to stand for what is true in our deepest knowing.

“Addiction reflects a deeper hunger for something greater than what is apparent from the outside.” It’s a compulsion to discover something more than simply participating in the mundane functions of everyday life. For some, intoxication is a reach for the exalted, the euphoric, a feeling of lightness, and a deeper sense of connection or awareness. It brings up the questions, who am I beyond the physical game, the face of my existence and the roles I play? What gives me meaning and a deeper sense of purpose beyond what is expected of me through social conditioning and the expectations of others? What juices my spirit, my core being and breathes life intrinsically beyond external reflections? I think we use our addictions to get through the everyday grind, the escape from the constant pressure of producing, making money and surviving. We look for that immediate pleasure of the intoxication to make the worries go away, take time out, run, look away and somehow get through.

Sometimes life can seem laboriously long, the minutes ticking like hours and if we can somehow get to our next fix, then it will be ok. I can party, down a few red wines or maybe becomes someone else for a while. I can loosen up, let go of my inhibitions, not be responsible for a while, and not worry about the repercussions. But often times there are consequences, driving under the influence, being late or inefficient at work, becoming aggressive and emotionally unavailable at home, becoming unreliable with commitments, letting others down. Many people with addiction suffer from self-hatred and self beat up, demanding attention for someone else to take care of them and not being responsible, escaping that which is too painful. Addiction can be a form of sabotage, breaking down solidly placed structures in order to punish self and/or others close to them, especially family members. They are punishing themselves due to some sort of abuse or trauma to their physical, emotional and spiritual being. They don’t want to take responsibility for their life and their soul lessons and want to cop out and have someone else take care of them.

But for most of us, at some point in our lives, catastrophic events happen, often unexpectedly, that tip us over the edge where life is never again the same. Someone we love dies, we lose our beloved partner, child or pet, an accident happens, a rape, someone gets hurt, a disability, cancer strikes, we lose our home, a friend or family member suicides, infidelity breaks the marriage, divorce, a business goes bankrupt, loss of a home, depression, a breakdown occurs. The list goes on and on and somehow life must go on. But for many people, life seems to stop there and there is no sense of moving forward, coming to terms or creating a new. We know we can never have that person again. It is an irreplaceable loss. Overpowering grief, anger, and a deep guttural pain sets in. It becomes a burden being alive. The frustrated grit of life becomes raw and unbearable. The pain sucks us down to the bones. But yet somehow we must endure. At this point, especially on the shock of impact, many of us don’t care. The rules have changed. What we thought about life no longer matters. Many of us start drinking, doing amphetamines, and smoking anything to get through that overwhelming sense of hopelessness and emptiness. We want to run away, escape. The vodka and cigarette becomes a long cherished friend that somehow comforts us and makes us feel safe. Its what we can count on that will never leave us. Many of us sit in fear believing that life will never give us what we want again. Our faith becomes challenged and we feel heartbreak and despair. The pain becomes so magnified; it over rides our sense of ourself. We can feel irrevocable damaged. The shell of us feels empty and broken.

But at the core level, everyone wants joy, happiness, love, satisfaction and validation from another being that they are good enough and loveable just as they are. We want to be accepted especially when we can’t accept ourselves. I think we all have a deeper need of connection. We are seeking a reason for our existence, to feel part of something greater than just ourselves and the small world we have created. This search is a spiritual hunger for a deepening connection with a sense of the divine and everything that is. It is a search for intrinsic meaning, something within ourselves the connects the dots to life’s mystery that makes sense on a personal level to the soul. When we can wake up in the morning and know there is a reason to get out of bed, that there is a fundamental meaning and purpose that only I can fulfill, that I am necessary, knowing that my journey in this life makes a difference. I am important regardless of what I do or who I am. We all have a deeper hunger and drive for nourishment in all the places we don’t feel nourished.

It is the quest to find this inexplicable and intangible substance that connects us to life. The meaning is the Digging for it. I think when people stop digging and give up, that is when the need for addictive substances intensifies with the perception that there is no way out, the situation is out of control and too painful. So we want to escape. It is the blocked energy and life force that becomes trapped in the body and has no means of outlet or expression. The person doesn’t know how to move. Sometimes we cant figure it out and don’t know any different than the game we are playing. Life becomes a stalemate within the daily grind. Drugs and alcohol put a lid on that and make the intolerable almost tolerable. Anything to pacify the time and get through becomes the motto and life becomes wasted away being high and away somewhere else, anywhere but here.

Often we are playing out karmic scenarios with our colleagues, friends and loved ones to work through our emotional issues, resentments and hurts through various challenges to push us to deepen, open our hearts, speak our truth and show our authentic selves. Interactive dynamics can be challenging and painful. Rather than confront the situation, it becomes easier to pull back, not face and avoid. But it’s in the turning inward that the answers present. It is the willingness to take responsibility and choose to make the changes necessary to create a better life. Only we can choose to change. No one else can do it for us.

Dealing with addiction is a journey. For most of us it is a struggle, an excruciatingly painful one at best, with lots of pitfalls and potholes. At times the pull toward the hook can feel overwhelming and over power our rational sense of control. The foothold can feel so strong, especially dealing with alcohol, cocaine or heroin, it can kill us. For most of us, it is taking it one step at a time, allowing for the falls and being gentle with self, recognizing that it is a healing journey and a process learning about the self. It is in the falling down and picking ourselves back up again that stimulate self-awareness, learning and growth. It is where we find our strength, discover the tapestry we are made of and heal. It’s a journey toward wholeness, peeling down the layers and discovering something new about ourselves. Some of us are scripted to work through the lessons of addiction in order to build character and learn about compassion and forgiveness of self and others. Some have decided to be addicts to teach about tolerance, acceptance, kindness and compassion regardless of the human condition. The world is full of colourful travelers. We are all in lesson. We are simply love disguised in different faces.

Every moment is a new opportunity to reach out and ask for support. Counseling, coaching, rehabilitation programs, CADS, Care NZ, Man alive, Capri Charitable trust, Lifeline, twelve step programs or see Addiction services (yellow pages) are a few options to get help. There is always support should we choose to reach for it. We are never alone. Each moment presents a new opportunity to change and reclaim our life. It is our birthright to be all we are meant to be.

It is our choice.




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Shari Rhodes is an international Intuitive Reader who has been giving readings in
America, Australia and New Zealand for the past 25 years. Shari’s purpose is to support
people to grow and move forward in a positive direction with greater clarity,
selfempowerment and self-confidence. You can email Shari at
or visit her website at