Before we can move onto step 6, “Placing Positives Values at the Center of Our Lives,” we really need to come into “Mindful Awareness of What Addiction is.” It’s easy to delude ourselves when the scientists define 10 types of addictions, and our particular one does not come up on their list.
- Opiates ( like pain killers, heroine, morphine, ketamine)
- Anti Anxiety Sedatives
- Psycho Stimulants (like speed or cocaine)
- Amphetamine (like ecstasy)
- Hallucinogens (like LSD)
If you only want to believe what the scientists say then how about reflecting on this: Scientists state that for something to be an addiction it must have the following characteristics…
- It must be a repeated behaviour that results in distress or negative impact
- You continue to repeat the behaviour despite the fact it will cause distress
- You have a state of physiological need such that physiological signs occur when you stop taking them, and these physiological signs also includes depression, anxiety disorder, anger
- You experience stress when you try to stop
- You exhibit behaviours of lying, or concealing behaviours (whenever you participate in the addictive behaviour and do not want others to see that you are concealing something)
- You behaviour is persistent, and you have not been able to cut back or stop
- You may be able to stop the behaviour but relapse
Scientists also claim that before something can be considered addicting it must have the characteristic of a brain disorder. And because addiction is classified as a brain disorder, addiction can be cured.
While gambling has been added to the scientists’ list of addiction, we still have some way to go to have sugar, food, sex, internet, shopping and many other things included. Meanwhile these categories may not have been scientifically proved to be an addiction, but don’t kid yourselves—they can produce the above characteristics.
The Eight Steps
- Step one: Accepting that this human life will bring suffering
- Step two: Seeing how we can create extra suffering in our lives
- Step three: Embracing impermanence to show us that our suffering can end
- Step four: Being willing to step onto the path of recovery and discover freedom
- Step five: Transforming our speech, actions and livelihood and Mindful awareness of what addiction is
- Step six: Placing positive values at the centre of our lives and Step six: Another look
- Step seven: Making every effort to stay on the path of recovery
- Step eight: Helping others to share the benefits we have gained
Addiction or not, what we can agree on that mindfulness has a lot to contribute to dis-ease. Statistics have proved that drug addiction and alcoholism has a profound impact on the frontal cortex in the brain, which is responsible for behaviour, shrinking it to the same size as that of someone with schizophrenia. And scientific evidence also proves that mindfulness has a profound impact on the frontal cortex. MRI scans on a brain that has been exposed to an 8 week mindfulness course show that the amygdala shrinks, which impacts the pre frontal cortex that is responsible for decision making, concentration and awareness.
The reality is that addiction is all the same, there is just different labels for them. The initial trigger that prompted us to turn towards a substance, was about us turning away from our present experience wether it be a negative or positive one.
Admittedly certain behaviours can be harmful, but not addictive. However if we repeat them over and over again, and act out some of the characteristics above, I think we have to accept that we do have an addiction that needs paying Mindful Awareness too.
Especially if it is at the center of your life. What I mean by that is;
- What do you spend most of your time thinking about?
- What thoughts frequent your mind?
- What do you spend a lot of your time doing?
- What do you spend your money on?
There is not one cure for substance abuse, substance misuse and I include sugar, food, sex, internet as substances. In fact it’s claimed that sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine. And it has as many harmful impacts like, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
However I invite you to place Mindfulness at the center of your thoughts and be open to see what happens. Those of you who have had addictive behaviours, know very well what has been the material of your thoughts, what has occupied your mind.
What would it mean to put the breath at the center of your thoughts?
What would it mean to disappear into your breath rather than disappearing into your thoughts?
More on placing positive qualities at the center of your life next month.
For a free sample of the book study and 21 meditations of Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction please email: email@example.com
“What would it mean to put the breath at the center of your thoughts? What would it mean to disappear into your breath rather than disappearing into your thoughts?”
For someone who is just starting to wrap their head around what it means to “bring your attention back to the breath” when my neurotic mind wanders, and how powerful that could be to exercise that control, I really appreciated that quote, and this article. Thanks!