Addiction is a multi-layered event. The same substance can be used in a different context and we won’t develop an addiction. So, what is needed for an addiction to form? And can we be immune to addiction?
Before getting into if we can be immune to addiction, let’s first explore the five different elements that “create addiction.”
1. A Pleasurable Experience
Whether it’s work, love, relationships, alcohol, sex, or drugs, most addictions include a substance or experience that is pleasurable. By itself, there is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy food, drinks, sex, etc. Yet, once other elements (as you’ll see below) are in the mix, these substances and experiences can quickly become addictive.
2. Pain or Difficult Life Situation
A lot of people report the start of addiction after or during a painful experience in their lives – perhaps after a breakup or after losing a job. When life is going well, people don’t tend to develop addictions. Human beings develop unhealthy dependencies when they are trying to self-medicate the pain of difficult situations in their lives.
3. Lack of Support
A pleasurable experience (drinking, sex, etc.) does not become an addiction on its own, even when we are going through a difficult time in our lives. Another element of addiction is that we feel alone, isolated, and unsupported.
In these moments, using more and using more often become the only solutions available to numb the pain. Those who have real emotional support in their lives don’t tend to develop an addiction.
4. Boredom and a Lack of Direction in Life
Those who feel bored often and those who lack inspiration and motivation in their lives as well as those who feel they have no direction whatsoever are at a greater risk of developing addictions. A lot of “free” time is not necessarily a good thing to have.
5. Existing Trauma
Addiction is heavily dependent on an experience as a way of trying to escape emotional pain. Those who suffer from trauma have a much more difficult time working through their pain compared with those who carry less or no trauma.
In my work with those who struggle with addiction, I have never encountered anyone who does not carry trauma whether due to early childhood neglect, abuse, or simply the trauma of not having emotionally available parents in the house.
How Can You Become Immune to Addiction?
This is also like asking: How can I have an amazing life?
- Recognize that there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good and with wanting to enjoy pleasurable experiences.
- Continuously ask for and receive emotional support from friends and family members, get in touch with professionals and keep working on your healing and growth until it no longer feels like “work,” but just something that helps you live a great life.
- Ask the big questions: What do I really want to do with my time? What do I truly enjoy doing? How can I contribute to this World?
- Connect with your heart and find what truly inspires you and commit to it.
- Find people who think like you and who are also interested in empowering others in living well. Commit to creating deeper relationships with supportive and honest people.
- Learn more about trauma and start working with a somatic practitioner.