Addiction can be to a chemical (e.g. alcohol/drugs) or to a behaviour or process (e.g. sex, shopping, gambling, helping controlling others, approval seeking or even to an emotion such as anger.) P.Carnes describes addiction as a pathological relationship with a mood altering behaviour or chemical. Experts say addiction is biopsychosocial to cover most of the bases! However, the study of epigenetics declares that even gene expression is governed by beliefs, perception and the environment (Bruce Lipton)
The key to healing is that all addictions are mood changing and an addiction is in place to help someone regulate or medicate their own feelings, without having to rely on other people. For a vast percentage of people, addiction is caused or made worse by trauma and childhood trauma and the resulting core beliefs. Addiction is all about dis- and mis- connection and healing from them is all about connection with self, others and the Higher Power/Source and clearing unresolved trauma along with the limiting beliefs.
People with addictions talk about a hole in the soul that they are desperately trying to fill with things that never full fill them. People with addictions tend to remember the first time they used a drink or drug or addictive process because it felt SO GOOD! They are temporarily connecting with a high energy state that becomes a Guiding Star (Silvia Hartmann) or Higher Power for them, they want to continue feeling that good, but the addiction eventually robs them of this possibility. Severe addictions tend to be progressive and fatal if untreated. Some of the symptoms of addiction are, continued use despite adverse consequences, denial (don’t even notice I am lying!) dishonesty, justification, increased tolerance, withdrawal, putting it before other important things in your life, and attempts to stop or control the addiction. Once you start you have little or no control of when you stop or start again, obsession and compulsion are hallmarks of addiction; if it is causing you a problem…. it is a problem.
Even people in recovery from addiction often swap or cross-addict to something else until they have done this healing work (sometimes known as swapping deck-chairs on the Titanic!)