Alcohol does not make someone an alcoholic. Cocaine does not make someone a cocaine addict. Casinos do not make someone a gambling addict. We must have a susceptibility to addiction in the first place.
The susceptibility arises mostly from the pain of not liking who we believe we are, a state brought on from a stressful environment well growing up. The trauma (stress) stops the necessary wiring for emotional connection and bonding.
You see, the human brain develops roughly 25 percent in the womb and 75 percent after birth. By age three, the most significant brain growth portion, up to 90 percent, is established. The remaining 10 percent continues into the early twenties.
“A radically different notion has replaced the view that genes play a decisive role in the way a person’s brain develops: the expression of genetic potentials is, for the most part, contingent on the environment.” ~ Dr. Gabor Maté
A child must have good nutrition, physical security, and consistent emotional nurturing for the brain to complete its critical wiring. Even a single traumatic incident can block this essential growth and cause a child to turn inward and lose touch with who they are. The developing brain, incapable of understanding trauma, neglect, abuse, or emotional loss, will most likely make a child believe it's their fault, and the Mistaken Identity begins.
(Side-note: The trauma could come from other people in the environment and not just the parent. For instance: babysitter, another sibling, neighbour, priest, etc.)
Example: There was unrelenting tension in my home, walking on eggshells between episodes of abuse. As a child, I couldn’t name the cause or explain its results. I only knew I was uncomfortable, afraid, and wanted it to end. Trauma is never about the event; it’s about what it does to us internally.
The trauma begins because I did not feel safe telling anyone about my pain and suffering, so I had no choice but to create many false limiting beliefs about myself to survive. Children are brilliant at adapting. Addiction is an adaptation to the environment! The genetic factors are a much smaller factor than previously thought.
The bottom line is if we grew up with stressed-out parents, we were prone to be stressed children, no matter how much our parents loved us and strived to do their best, which will increase one’s chances of developing an addiction or other illness or disfunction.
People often say that their parents did the best they could. They don’t say as often that healing and forgiveness take truth and time. My parents didn’t cause my addiction at all, they too had their own unhealed trauma. And I love my mom and dad today.
Remember: Recovery is an inside job, it’s that simple, and I believe that the surest solution to any addition is an awakening of consciousness because a person with addiction lost their authentic self a long time ago.
We do recover! By the way, there are approximately 24 million of us in long-term recovery in North America.
PS- Research also shows that 45 to 55 percent of those with an addiction have a secondary mental health issue - like ADHD for example. And finally, trauma lives in the subconscious mind and body and telling someone to - Just Get Over It, is very wrong. Trauma and the messages that go with it need to be healed - end of story.
Part of this is from my book “Mistaken Identity - A Sacred Journey from Addiction to Awakening”.
Satnam Paul Noiles