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Before addiction becomes enslavement and a scourge upon the heart, the family, and society, it begins as an impaired good. Addiction is a deeply failed, impaired attempt to live fully without having to pay the price of feeling fully. The addict, of any sort, doesn’t believe, trust, or know that the feelings we have are gifts. Feelings are God-given tools that allow us to live fully, love deeply, and even lead well in a tragic place.
So let’s stick with this definition of addiction:
Addiction is an impaired attempt to live fully without having to pay the price of feeling fully.
The addiction process begins in ignorance, not of a substance or an action, but the “trained ignoring” of the feelings themselves and the knowledge of what gifts they give us (see The Eight Feelings Chart™ below). The compulsive nature of addiction is created when a mood-altering substance or action combines in the brain to address the very areas of the heart that feelings and relational attachment are created to meet.
Simply, in addiction we find a way to have attachment and a sense of well being without the difficulties. In attempting to leave these difficulties behind, we also lose the incredible substantive experiences that need and delayed gratification can give to our desire to live fully.
When a person does not know and, therefore, cannot see the purpose and benefit of true feelings, the need to address them is so powerful that a person either learns them or becomes addicted. Addiction is an obsessive and compulsive attempt to change the way one feels. When a person steps into experiencing the blessing of feelings and relational attachment in all its forms, they truly are at choice—the choice to live, to love, and to lead a life that is the experience of being fully alive.
Addiction is an obsessive and compulsive attempt to change the way one feels.
We live in a culture of escaping the pain of living, which causes us to miss the experience of love. Addiction is the number one problem in our culture, and its consequence is love lost. If a person or a people cannot live the extraordinary courage that love requires, for it is a contract that says, “I’m willing to face pain to be with you,” we all lose children, fathers, mothers, friends, marriages, communities, towns, and cities.