|Head-shot of Eckhart Tolle from directly in front by Kyle Hoobin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Over time the addictive substance used to cover up pain doesn’t work anymore. It fails to mask the pain as effectively as it once did or it only exacerbates the pain. It is often at this point that the addict realizes the addiction can’t cover the pain anymore that they seek help and are willing to find treatment.
Addiction rehab can help treat pain in several effective ways that are sustainable and transferrable after the treatment is over. First, once the addict has detoxed from their drug of choice, either through medical detox from substances or through separation from their process addictions (gambling, video games, etc.), they begin to experience their emotions more. Their immediate urge is to crave and seek out a substance to mask the pain, but after even just a few times of restraint from that auto reaction, new pathways can and do begin to form. In this way, reactive patterns actually become reprogrammed. Addicts then often find that the fear of feeling the pain was far greater than the actual pain itself. However, no matter the level of pain, addicts are among therapists, peers and resources that can help guide them through it by helping them replace their reactive patterns of using with new patterns.
Coping mechanisms or tools are taught in treatment and reinforced several times until they become a new pattern, which is why treatment programs are at least 28 days. For example, the addict learns to allow themselves to feel the pain without reacting to it. They learn that they are not their feelings — that they can have feelings of pain but those feelings don’t need to define them and all subsequent reactions. The addict also learns to self-soothe the pain through connecting and sharing their pain with fellow addicts, journaling, meditating or developing their own spiritual practice to turn their pain over.
In the therapist offices and group rooms of treatment centers, addicts find they aren’t often sharing the gritty details of the addiction itself, such as how or where they used drugs. Instead the rooms are filled with painful stories, memories and experiences and are met with sympathy, compassion and tools to overcome the pain. The secret is that the pain is already cut in half the moment the addict shares about it because it can be met with a solution, rather than stuck within and used to fuel the addiction. If every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain as Eckhart Tolle says, every treatment program starts with opportunities to unleash that pain and ends with solutions to endure pain in the future – without turning to the reactive and addictive ways of the past.