It’s been a week since I returned from a drug rehabilitation center on the island of Oahu.

Once again I was honored to be invited to volunteer my services (this trip marks my 5th visit) and to be able to work with the residents addressing the mental and emotional aspects of addiction.

This facility goes by the name Habilitat and it is truly a very special and remarkable place.

What makes it so special?

Well, for starters…they don’t see addiction as a disease. They see it as a series of bad choices.

addicted-2-1315304Sure, if one chooses to use a chemical enough times there are some chemicals that the body will become physically dependent on. But up to that point, there was still a series of bad choices.

In my experience, I see the choice to use mind-altering substances as a result of 2 factors:

  1. lack of support, nurturing, connection, and love
  2. a need to escape traumatic memories

A person who falls into the first category will have a need to want to fit in with a group. They may feel like the black sheep of their family, or perhaps they felt abandoned or unwanted.

The second category could include abuse…physical, emotional, sexual, or a traumatic event like a sudden death of family members.

Some people may fall into both of these categories.

Based on these experiences they form identities, they form beliefs about who they are. These identities are created and supported by self-talk, memories, stories…thoughts.

Most of these thoughts create unpleasant feelings…anger, depression, guilt, despair, hopelessness, etc.

In an attempt to change these feelings we may turn to drugs and alcohol.

The interesting thing is, we all do this from time to time. We forget that we are creating our own feelings and we look for something outside of ourselves to change how we feel.working-with-laptop-3-1545962

Sometimes it’s television, Facebook, food, sex, pornography, shopping…

For others it’s Oxycontin, methamphetamine, crack cocaine, heroin…

If you want to figure out what the dominant thoughts are, check yourself just before you turn to whatever your vice is for escape or avoidance. Those are the thoughts and feelings that will lead you to what you need to address, change, and make peace with.

The challenge with our perception of life is not so much what we think…it’s THAT we think. We forget that we are the ones creating our identity with our own thoughts.

As we realize that what we are experiencing is the feeling of our thinking, it can create just enough space for us to step back and effectively question and address the thoughts that support the insecure thinking.

The end result can be more calm, presence, clarity, creativity…and subsequently less need to want to escape or avoid.

So, now ask yourself…what am I addicted to?