Eight Postulates of Addiction

by Greg Rowe December 5, 2021

There are different estimates from National Institutes of Health and from organizations such as Alcoholics (or Narcotics) Anonymous, on the extent of addiction. According to the American Addiction Centers article of 11/19/21, “Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics,” “About 38% of adults in 2017 battled an illicit drug use disorder (and) “That same year, 1 out of every 8 adults struggled with both alcohol and drug use disorders simultaneously” (Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2018))

Clearly, addiction is a major social, mental health, and public health challenge. The frequency with which it is found in US society infers that this may also apply to other advanced societies. When we define addiction more broadly, to include addictive behaviors, such as overeating, smoking, gambling, sex addiction, and even addiction to anger or drama, this may reveal and even broader scope.

As we shamans Work with the spiritual side of health challenges, including those of mental health, we should reflect on exactly how addiction manifests to us and, by extension, what we might to to help liberate our patients from it. Working with such problems from 1983 onward, I have seen the effects of addiction in many lives and think that I have also seen some causes of the behaviors which manifest as addiction. This narrative does not claim to sort them by priority, as this may differ by the individual, or by frequency. It is, rather, merely a list, and one which I hope to refine, should any of you, who read this blog, care to give feedback, or make comments. Should you do the latter here, I will respond to you. Should you do so privately, please indicate whether I may quote any or part of your email on this topic, as we, together, explore addiction.

To deepen our exploration of the topic, I sent a copy of the essay to a colleague who is a very accomplished energetic healer in his own right, Bryan Nolan of New Jersey. Bryan comes at this topic as an active advocate for addict recovery and from the perspective of once having been a victim of substance abuse disorder. This makes him uniquely qualified to comment, having seen the phenomenon from both perspectives, internally, as one trapped therein, and externally, as one who escaped and now works to free others. If, after reading this, any of you would like to consult Bryan’s healing outreach, please write this site’s email and we shall forward it to him. To contrast his commentary from the original writing, a different font is employed.

1. Narcissism and self-absorption: Addicts evince the attitude that “I get to use/behave in a self or other destructive way, but someone else, or everyone else must pay for it.” This is obvious where a meth addict robs his family’s business to buy his next supply. It is not as obvious with the pack (or more) a day smoker or the person making the fourth trip  through the buffet line, or the man who fathers 10 children that someone else will pay to rear. All addictions degrade the life experience of the addict, but most creat collateral social costs, such as excessive health care demands, that as well.I agree with the concept that most addicts create great collateral social costs such as healthcare, pain on others financially and emotionally.  I have to disagree with the black and white attitude of narcissism and self-absorption “I get to behave, someone else pays.” This is how it absolutely comes off to the average person who is looking in from the outside, but the person who is looking out from within addiction is trapped and unaware this is occurring.  The closest comparison I can use that references this thinking is that of a child lying, becoming a compulsive liar, and then becoming a pathological liar. IT is possible that this child was flat out a narcissist and was almost “destined” to act this way, but it is also possible that trauma or some other lack of nurturing/peer directive pushed them into these mannerisms.  The same is for addicts, not all addicts actively feel that others are responsible for their actions and feel no guilt, many feel tremendous guilt for what they do and then hide that guilt in more drug use (this is especially evident in sexual addiction, and eating addiction). So basically yes this is true for some of the worst addicts you encounter, but I would argue that the majority of addicts, especially when looking at more than just drug use, are not narcissists, rather they are playing the role of one. 

2. There is a sense of Incompleteness, an inner void: Substances or repetitive, harmful or risky behaviors are used to try to fill in that void, to complete the life that the person feels is incomplete. It is corollary to many tautologies that we must create our own sense of meaning and purpose in life. Even though we may have learned various ersatz meaning-giving systems during our acculturation, whether through one of the Semitic Mythologies or through a national zeitgeist, when we evolve and develop critical thinking skills, we soon realize that we must strive to create the context, the “weave” of the fabric of our experience. Taking an entheogen provides a real connection to deeper levels of reality, but street drugs or over-used prescriptions, or risky behaviors (e.g. promiscuity) offer an artificial alternative, a momentary sense of completion through connection to someone or something, even if it is the group of fellow smokers who gather at an approved exit at the workplace at break times or after hours. In another context, the momentary alteration of consciousness overrides the sense of incompleteness.

2. 100%, we could expand on this for pages upon pages with examples, referencing of Jung, Maslow, Rogers etc. but without a doubt this is 100% a fundamental aspect that EVERY addict
has – I would apply this void directly to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a means for writing a paper.

3. Yearning to Escape normal states of consciousness: If we consider the Oceanic Experience or Peak Experience, put forth by Humanistic Psychologists in the 1960’s, there is an innate drive humans have to experience a higher, deeper layer of consciousness, a healthy drive. Over aeons, humans have used sensory deprivation, like the Tibetan or Nepalese adepts who enter and live in a darkened hut, with only minimal food being put through a slot once daily, for weeks to stimulate the brain’s own DMT production, or meditation. This has led us to meditation or the very careful use (not abuse) of entheogens in a sacred context, to, as the name implies, reach into the realm of the Gods. The need to “shift gears” of consciousness is natural, but the sources within a cultural context involve preparation, fasting, sometimes sacred and exhausting dance (as with the Bitwe of Cameroon) or meditation prior to ingestion of the entheogen. These also involve in most cultures, counseling with a shaman, noita, vala, or currandero(a) prior to use in order to resolve or de-potentiate any conflict material that might emerge, except in cases where the guided journey, as is sometimes done with ayahuasca cults, is to be catharctic. The addict escapes, but does not touch the Higher beings or realms, rather only returning to a life where the same conditions she sought to escape still dominate her attention.

3. Absolutely, this is something I have personally done and used to “escape” and then to “self-medicate” and then finally as I learned what I was doing I learned to stop running and embracemy own self without fear; this allowed the entheogens to become a cathartic experience. This is not something I suggest anyone does without the guidance of a professional, but without a doubt this yearn to escape ties directly into postulate 2 as well. Sometimes when the addict DOES touch a higher realm in this experience when they are not ready…it can sometimes lead to more fear and need to escape. I apply the concept of Buddhism and Buddhist psychology in this instance of escape in a positive manner where an individual understands that their suffering is created by them, not the traumatic events, but how the suffering effects them in the present. The entheogens help to bring “awakeness.”

4. Self-Medication: Often, addiction begins with use of a substance to address a symptom of a real imbalance or illness. It can be ub response to real physical pain, or to the lower mind-states of depression, anxiety, anger, or fear. The fibromyalgia or anxiety patient may start with prescriptions to address the pain or anxiety, but does not address the real issue(s) creating the symptoms. He has insurance to cover part of the cost and finds that the same script that cost a pharmaceutical company $5 for the bottle to produce costs $59 at the pharmacy and that, to keep the prescription, even if it works, he is required to go visit the physician to spend a few minutes answering a checklist of possible side effects and measure the efficacy of the script every three months for the fee of $175 for stepping over the threshold of the clinic for that five minutes for something that is actually working. When the job is lost, he can no longer afford this and then starts buying street drugs, often stolen prescription pills, to do the same thing- much more costly per capsule than the script, but without the $175 (not to mention lab tests) for the magical five minutes. Unmonitored use then downward spirals into uncontrolled dependency. There are also those many who could not afford the medical system in the first place and simply bought on line, as Americans could once do from Canadian pharmacies, for their own self-diagnoses. At some point, this, too, can devolve into recreational use. 

4. This is very accurate for the development of opioid, benzo alike prescription addictions. This is a matter of a broken healthcare system. To expand on self-medication, many addicts who are
highly functioning have become so good at “playing” the system where in which they aggrandize their own egos to the level of believing they are in touch with their own bodies. (this is from
personal experience). Let’s say they have gotten past the worst of their addiction spiraling in and out, and have started to work one themselves. They decide due to the “wokeness” of knowing they are bipolar they can control their cycles by self-medication such as Adderall and Xanax. By acknowledging and learning about your own mental illness you can do this, but it is a VERY fine line to walk and 99% of people cannot do this. Thus this leads to people thinking they are doing it properly, and unaware of the manic depressive cycles they are living in. An addict likes to teach others how to be okay because they have become so good at pretending that they are, and by teaching others their version of okay and helping they can ignore their own issues and actually convince themselves they are a fully functioning human being at 100% capacity.

5.Co-Addiction to Drama: I frequently found that persons in addiction tended to inordinately focus on problems rather than solutions, on imagined rather than real slights from others, and on creating low-level conflicts with those closest to them, almost as if they’d be bored without the drama. Drama is its own addictive factor. It may be a great diversion to fill the internal void or compensate for a lack of inner sense of completeness, of gestalt. 

5.Agree completely, and the ending of my last response of “teaching others” definitely ties into this co-addiction to drama. This co-addiction is prevalent in every single type of addiction, even
if that addiction only lasts for a few months in a person’s life and never becomes “serious.” Once you feel that escape by focusing on drama instead of self, it’s toxic and addictive; I use the
example of housewives gossiping.

6. Lack of Sateity: There is for some the sense that, if a little salt enhances the flavour, that much more salt can only make the food taste that much better. There is the mentality that, if a dessert is entertaining and pleasant, four courses of the dessert is four times better. extend this attitude toward social drinking, with its controlled use, where one shot of bourbon at the end of the workday is relaxing, and the person is no longer a social drinker, but one dependent upon inebriation. The same applies to the use of a prescription, when it metastacizes from taking as prescribed, or as needed to taking it for pleasure. To the addict, there is never enough, enough food, enough drink, enough stimulation, whether at the gambling table or the bedroom. Life is all about entertainment and they are lost in the funhouse. Clinically, there has been much to suggest that forceps delivery with its suppression of proper development in the frontal cortex, is often a precursor, but so is a culture which values something-for-nothing, gain-without-work, and indulgence without consequences. Only through reeducation of the self to appreciat4e simple pleasures, to experience the noumena of life through the lens of gratitude, can one overcome this, retraining the brain to require fewer reward stimuli to feel whole or sated.

6. This is accurate in most ways; I would just like to expand on the “never enough” concept for an addict. This is very situational and of course in the case of an addict who is not highly functioning this is often the case. I look at many things from the lens of a functioning addict, I believe you see it from the viewpoint of a practitioner treating the CHAOTIC addict. Nonetheless this is very accurate still for parts of my life and when I did have uncontrolled manic depressive cycles. The only reason I disagree with this at all is again the black and white “never.” For an addict, even with shamanic intervention of creating frontal lobe dominance,
fixing posture, and educating the individual that person will always be an addict, and that’s ok.
Some addicts are able to have a drink for pleasure or smoke marijuana if employing the proper tools (of course this does not apply to things like heroin, mdma, cocaine etc.). If that pleasure
maintains BALANCE for the individual and it does not teeter and tip over towards the “too much” or “not enough” they can learn to function socially without being scared of themselves.
The concept of never enough reminds me the 12 stop program of counting days since the last use this causes an individual to live in fear of their addiction versus embrace who they are and work on it. Using myself as an example, I enjoy having a drink with friends, at a party getting drunk because it is socially acceptable. I must acknowledge when I am doing this that I am maintaining my balance and do self-work to ensure this holds. At the point of life, I am in, this is a part of my social life that would be more depressing to not enjoy; I employ mediation, stretching yoga, therapy, and of course the divine, to do this and it provides true happiness.
Every individual is different.

7. Addicts tend to have Chaotic lives: Our first reaction tends to be, “Well, of course they do. When the mind is ever preoccupied with addictive substances or behaviours, much of the normal ordering of life does not congeal. So, the chaos is a result of the addiction.” That is an easy assumption to make, but when one gets to know a few addicted patients, it is clear that the chaos began, in many cases, prior to the consumption of substances. The chaotic lifestyle usually includes failure to make solid plans for one’s future, unrealistic perceptions of rules and regulations, of official duties, etc. A common element is  that the addict has lost driver’s license or is in trouble with a taxing authority for failure to pay a traffic citation or failure to pay a tax. There is a disconnect from responsibility and resulting blowback as the world closes in on him or her. There is also often a issue with organizing anything. All spaces from the purse to the closet to the countertops will tend to be cluttered with bills not paid, correspondences not replied to, and other matters ignored. The substance or behavior provides and escape from the sense of despair and powerlessness accompanying the chaos.

7. Without a doubt much to expand on this as well, but nothing I can see that is not 100% accurate. Obviously it’s not written here but with the addiction beginning aside from financial and legal issues but drawing back to childhood and young adult trauma as well. Some people blame the world subconsciously, but are not even aware of it consciously.

8. Self-Destruction and Self-Sabotage: While being narcissistic and concerned only with one’s own gratifications, the addict acts in such a way as to ensure a life that is not satisfying. The immersion in the substance(s) or behaviors translates into failed drug tests and demotion or job loss. The sex addiction may result in STD’s and/or unwanted pregnancies or paternity suits. the gambling addiction can mean never preserving what one has earned. At a conscious level, the addict wants this or that level of stability or material security, but the subconscious belief is that she is unworthy of happiness, of being secure or comfortable, and the addictive behavior undermines all that she might hope to achieve. E.g., she wants to attract a nice-looking athletically built suitor the same age, but the food addiction translates into her having a bloated and unattractive look, so this desire is sabotaged. 

8. Yup. Just yup. Again an entire paper could be written expanding on this, but every addict it does not matter the severity or the functioning level commits self-sabotage and self-destruction.
Using sex addiction as an example, and this is not to be misogynistic, but women tend to get away with this addiction for years and years until they are well…no longer attractive and personality matters more than looks. They were destroying themselves the entire time, but noreal consequences came for a MUCH longer time when compared with that of the heroine user.

I believe a postulate that should be added in is about the grouping of addicts. Addicts tend to group together at various ages, even well before addictions are visibly present.’ The thought process of
impulse control that may drive others insane, may attract others that of a similar mindset.As we get older the individuals that are striving to “grow up” and become adults tend to stray from those that are stuck in addictive loops often subconsciously. You could say that addicts “drift” away from positive social groups, and it seems very slow and almost organic, but those “friends” just stop inviting them as often, or they start being flaky etc. A sign of a forming addict is often their straying from a long term social group they have been with and switching to another one.

This does not mean the individual is an addict yet, but more of a preliminary step in the ability to become. The chameleon effect is often an indication as well. An individual who is able to blend in and out of groups tends to become a highly
functioning addict, and is quite susceptible to becoming an addict rather quickly. Gullible. The formation of the chameleon effect is sometimes rooted in the trauma of family situation, and links to your second postulate. This chameleon effect could be definitely included with the substitution for the present void.
Perhaps a postulate that is referencing the “formation” or “indicators” of an addict that also includes your reference about the front lobe development and the forcep delivery.

Our role in Working with addicts may branch out into many activities. We may coach  them on meditation toward engendering mystical, real mystical experiences that do not involve substances. We can teach them the connections between how they are living and the life they profess to want. We can show them the logical, practical pitfalls built in to their behavior or substance. We can encourage the reeducation process whereby subscription to drama in one’s relationships is replaced by real communication and authentic explorations of the other’s experiences.

We can, above all, as priests and priestesses of the Ancient and Shining Ones, seek the gift of grace and release from the self-subscribed suffering that is an addiction. We can advocate for and facilitate the liberation of each soul from this limiting condition.

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