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Joanna Nemes
MULTIPLE ADDICTIONSAfter fighting this battle with Nick there are some things I now know for sure. Those of us without the addictive gene have a hard time seeing the big picture of addiction. We have such a hard time not being angry and bitter. The more I have researched and walked through this battle I now know otherwise. Our loved ones don't choose to be addicted. It's not the alcohol, the sex, the prescription pills, the gambling, the opioids, or the meth. It's usually underlying trauma from childhood, mental issues, and overall lack of connection. Or in the case of the new drug pornography a lot of these kids are exposed at such a young age in this era of technology that they just think it is normal. Society has normalized this. A lot of times those struggling just don't feel comfortable. Comfortable in their environment, comfortable in their own skin, or comfort in their own thoughts. Given this, more often than not it is more than just one drug of choice. Multiple addictions takeover their lives. Addiction to me means an action or substance that negatively affects you or your loved ones. If you have to keep your actions a secret, making sure no one finds out, you probably shouldn't be doing whatever it is. If you feel like you have to watch over your shoulder constantly something might be wrong. If you’re backing out of screens on your computer or phone, hiding in the bathroom pooping for hours, and lying to your loved ones about what you are doing— something is definitely wrong. If you can't say it out loud you are probably living in the darkness with addiction. If you are feeling alone and isolated in a room full of loved ones you probably need help. The good news is there are so many options out there to find recovery. Online communities, online and in person AA/NA/SA/Nar-anon/Al-Anon groups, individual and family therapy, getting involved in church, accountability partners, and of course in/out patient treatment facilities. There is hope for all of us. For our journey we have found comfort in many of the above items. Most important for us was rebuilding our relationship with God and rebuilding our loving connection. Often when an addict releases the grip of their primary addiction another one is waiting to jump into the party. Quit drinking to then be obsessed with sex. Quit watching porn and then live at the casino. Addiction is really a disease, though us nonaddicts have such a hard time believing. They made the choice to take that first hit off the pipe or the first drink or to look up that inappropriate content online. They made the choice! But in all actuality those with an addict brain don't make the choice. Once it gets what it needs it, the brain will do anything to feel that utopia again. This is due to the release of dopamine. It plays such a vital role in those with multiple addictions. Impulsive behaviors such as sex, watching pornography, gambling, eating, playing video games, and developing online relationships all cause the brain to release dopamine. It produces a sense of euphoria and a lot of it doing nothing but reinforcing these behaviors. The newest impulsive behavior often becomes the new drug for individuals who develop cross addictions. These behaviors awaken the same brain paths creating such similar effects and causing a new downward spiral. The brain is such a powerful tool. The good news is it can be rewired. The old computer saying of “garbage in, garbage out” rings true with addiction. Start replacing the garbage in your life with positive influences. Be honest! With yourself, with your family, and especially with your higher power. Start making amends. Start taking accountability. Remove people, places, and things that trigger you. Replace them with healthy lifestyle changes. Take a walk. Go to the gym. Or our go to: go camping! Be one with nature. Go to church. Learn a new hobby. Pick up some golf clubs. Volunteer, tell your story, and most of all help others through their recovery. We can all make a difference by breaking through the silence. Let's not let recovery be anonymous any longer. Please share in the comments how addiction has negatively affected your lives. Or, if you would like privacy please shoot us an email. We are here to help anyway we can.