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What Lurks Beneath Addiction?

Posted by Peter Guess on June 27, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Yes, addiction becomes a primary condition of physical and psychological addiction.


But, in my experience, below that condition is PAIN! This pain usually takes time to access, through a process of working through the outer layers, like getting to the core of the onion. The pain comes in varied forms, from different sources. Here are some examples:

  • the pain of abuse; 
  • a troubled childhood; 
  • disconnect from the self; 
  • lack of a core identity (similar to borderline personality disorder); 
  • feeling different or disconnected from others; 
  • un-processed grief; 
  • disconnect from a Higher Power; 
  • buried or hidden character deficiencies; and more.

We stay in denial or relapse repeatedly, if these areas of pain are not dealt with effectively and with deep compassion, within a caring and supportive recovery process - such as 12 Steps groups, psychotherapy and recovery coaching.

Categories: Recovery Basics, Relapse Prevention

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48 Comments

Reply Kevin
3:29 PM on June 28, 2013 
I am in agreement that pain - both physical AND emotional - often underlie addiction. For myself, it took me many many attempts over a long period of time to treat my addiction. The missing piece all along had been unresolved trauma in my life.

I am a full advocate of the usefulness of 12 Step groups. For me, however. the 12 Step approach alone was insufficient. I needed some intensive therapy - and was lucky enough to get that therapy. I still need a little more convincing on the whole "recovery coaching" concept - I can't quite sort out the differences between recovery coaching, babysitting. sponsorship,and listening and learning from the experiences of others in 12 Step groups. (Actually, I think "Recovery Coaching" is a fad - and one designed to make money at that ...) But. yes, dealing with underlying pain is necessary to stay clean and sober. Even the Big Book states that alcohol is just a symptom of underlying problems.
Reply Carmen
3:06 AM on June 30, 2013 
I love your article and I couldn't agree more. Very well written, easy to understand and straight to the point. Thanks Peter for your contribution to educate our clients in recovery.
Reply Leslie Ferris
8:54 AM on July 5, 2013 
Hi Peter. I am a life coach, and I work with parents of kids in treatment. I am not an addiction expert, but often the kids of the parents that I work with are addicted or using something. My observation is that what you are saying is true, that there is usually something else going on that often involves a lot of deep personal pain and shame. A big problem that I see is that often the addiction gets treated, but these underlying issues never get addressed, so the likelihood of relapse is pretty high. Kind of like working to get a fever down, but not looking for the infection.

Thanks for sharing your insights!
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8:11 AM on May 12, 2019 
Leslie Ferris says...
Hi Peter. I am a life coach, and I work with parents of kids in treatment. I am not an addiction expert, but often the kids of the parents that I work with are addicted or using something. My observation is that what you are saying is true, that there is usually something else going on that often involves a lot of deep personal pain and shame. A big problem that I see is that often the addiction gets treated, but these underlying issues never get addressed, so the likelihood of relapse is pretty high. Kind of like working to get a fever down, but not looking for the infection.

Thanks for sharing your insights!

Hi Leslie. It's Peter.
Sorry for the loooong delay. I just saw this today! I either never got the notification or missed it in my inbox. Thanks for your kind words. And keep doing that amazing work.
Please look below for my new website and other resources, links: AddictionOnlineLifeline.
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