We are focusing on “Connection” as our featured word in our ongoing “Word of the Week” series here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment. As addicts who have presumably spent a fair amount of time in isolation while in our addictions, it might be easy to brush off the importance of connection with others as a superfluous luxury that can come into, and out of, our lives just as the tides do. This perception, however, is a wildly inaccurate representation of the importance that connection to other human beings, nature, and God can have on our lives. The impact that a connection with another person who can be trusted and communicated with can prove to be invaluable experience that can lead to deeper and more meaningful relationships in the future. It’s often said that “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection,” and this adage, if applied seriously, can be one of the primary antidotes to the chaotic despair of substance addiction, as well as other less blatant behavioral addictions. Simply stated, addictions manifest due to a lacking of something, or of many things. While we could unpack, in great detail, the many facets of one’s history, personality, genetic predisposition, and so on in order to deconstruct the building blocks of what made us addicted, but for brevity’s sake, we’re going to discuss connection as a spotlight that can shine light onto the darkness of our unconscious and irrational forces that drive us to stay in the closed feedback loop of the addiction cycle. Chances are, as addicts, we were sent a message early on that stated, in one way or another, that people are generally not to be trusted and that the most advantageous approach to reconciling this terrifying perspective is to disengage with authenticity and genuineness as a means to avoid being hurt later on, which when viewing the world through this lens, happens inevitably. While I understand that there is some merit to this way of interacting with a world as scary as ours, this aversion to intimacy also becomes our Achilles heel.
Why is connection with others so important to our recovery? Think of connection, or lack of connection, as a state of physical dehydration. We’re severely thirsty, to the point where it feels as though if we do not get water to drink, we may actually die. We desperate accept any liquid that may quench this thirst in the moment, hell, we’d drink soda, red bull, milk, and anything that might give us immediate relief. While these liquids will temporarily ease our suffering, water with its purity, is the only solution that will sustain our lives in the long run. This is what is happening when we isolate ourselves from other people and fail to accept the divinity that our higher power has bestowed upon us, and upon everything around us. We crave connection to a divine source and human beings are a manifestation of that divinity. While drugs, alcohol, work, anger, gambling, and power all serve as great distractions to our spiritual dehydration, they only exacerbate the real problem and compound the existing issue on top of itself, over and over again. For most of us, true connection is a scary and unfamiliar territory to try and navigate through. Without it, however, we are relegated to the all too familiar territory that our addictions reside in. A territory void of love, compassion, kindness, and ultimately our solution, a restoration of our divine selves and the quenching of our spiritual thirst.