When it comes to addiction, do you ever ask “why”?

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Questions surrounding addiction continue to be at the centre of the media and headlines lately, asking things like: should we change policy to prevent addiction? Should gaming be a mental health disorder? How does the opioid epidemic affect children? In fact, there are no shortage of ideas surrounding how to deal with addictions and how widespread the ripple effect can be, but we are still not asking the most important question—why?

“Addiction is a coping strategy for pain. That pain can come from many different life experiences. Many times addictions arise and the person is unaware of their unresolved feeling. People may just feel better when active in addiction and the feeling is relieving compared to their natural state.” — Kim Barthel

In understanding that addictions are coping strategies for pain and trauma, we can come at addiction from a place of compassion and empathy.

In one of our more recent Twitter chats, Kim Barthel and Theo Fleury shared some helpful insights on how addicts will replace one addiction with another:

“Addiction in its simplest form is a coping strategy associated with emotional pain left from a traumatic experience. We will gravitate to anything that helps us numb the pain of our most hurt self.” — Theo Fleury

As Kim explains, until the underlying trauma is resolved, an addict will continue to find quick (and often negative) ways to cope.

“All addictions involve the chemical of dopamine, and different sources can provide that chemical. Take one away, need another.” — Kim Barthel

If you are concerned you may be struggling with an addiction or addictive behaviours, the best thing you can do is ask for help. Asking for support is a sign of courage and strength If you are looking to support someone in your life struggling with addiction, simply hold the space for them. Be emotionally safe and vulnerable yourself.

If you’re interested in learning more about trauma and healing, read our blog. Is addiction affecting your life in some way? Please share with us on Facebook and Twitter. To learn about the work Kim and Theo do, or to book them for an event, click here.

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