Whether it be addiction to drugs, alcohol, food or lack there of, each situation seems to have common threads throughout.
If you aren't familiar with the show, it documents one or two people who have some type of addiction and it ends with them facing an intervention in order for them to recover. My favorite part of the show is seeing how far they've come after their treatment, and how much happier and alive they look.
I have noticed these themes before throughout addictions, but after watching this show, it just really struck home with me that so many people feel this way and I feel for them.
Common themes of addiction:
- a desperate need for attention
- a longing for love
- a need for their mother's love and approval
- a need to 'live up' to a certain family member or expectation (ie. academics, older siblings, etc.)
- an intense fear of failing or being a failure
- a lack of affection within the family
- a lack of feeling worthy
- a longing for perfection
- a need for numbness
- an intense fear of feeling feelings
I wrote these things down as I watched the show and it hurts to see them all in a list like this. However, I know what it feels like to need/want/feel these things because my eating disorder was rooted around all of them.
Sometimes people think that an addiction erupts from just one thing, but in reality, most issues arise when several aspects of their lives need addressing.
In the case of my own anorexia, family dynamics played a huge role, my own sense of worthlessness played a role, needing love and affection played a role, and the need to numb my feelings came into play among other things.
I remember when I used to jump from one counselor to another and the first question they would ask was, "so how did this all begin?" And I remember being so frustrated because there was never a specific point in time that things began, but rather certain issues started unfolding all together and even unconsciously I acted in ways that I thought would make them better or go away.
But I guess the most important take away from this show is that all addictions are similar. Even though I don't have a drug problem and I'm not an alcoholic, I can identify with those people who do suffer from those things. I can't be completely in their shoes but I can understand their feelings and their reasoning behind their actions. And this is hard for people who have never dealt with addiction to grasp.
I know when I watch certain shows with my fiance, he just can't fathom why these people would do such things, why they would sell their bodies in order to feed their drinking, or why they would continue to starve themselves even when they clearly know they could die. But there's no way he could understand because he hasn't been there. He hasn't been in that situation where the disorder/addiction is all you have, and all you care about.
I get frustrated when other people can't see past the addiction because there is a real person under it all. A loving person who is suffering and can't pull themselves out of the spiral they're engulfed in. And it's always easier said then done because the addiction is stronger than you think. The addiction takes over the person and it's not until that person tried to emerge from the wreckage that they can begin to recover.
What do you think? Are the themes I listed accurate? If you'e had any sort of addiction, can you relate?