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Can we trace addiction to to our image of ourselves?

To the editor:

(Plain Press, May 2016) I would like to offer what knowledge and experience I have come to understand about addiction.  Although I was never exposed to illegal narcotics, I know of family and friends who were, and/or still are today.

Back in 1990, when I first moved away from home to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Akron, I had the occasion to observe a lecture that completely changed my life. It was a broadcast on WVIZ of John Bradshaw and his series “On the Family.” In essence his message is that children are shame-based from an early age and retain this internal belief about themselves throughout their lives. They inherit this from the family systems that begat their parent, grandparents etcetera in what amounts to, metaphorically, as the “sins of the fathers passed to the third and fourth generation.” Not only did I watch the entire series but all the rest as well. The books brought even more clarity.

The theory helps one trace back the sources of their internal shame and forces them to ask the question: Is there really something wrong with me or did someone just tell me I was, over and over again. Bradshaw’s concept is not about blame but rather assigning responsibility because your parents and their parents all fell victim to this self-perpetuating system that accentuates a belief that I am a mistake (shame) instead of I made a mistake (guilt). I believe this is one of the root causes for addiction, not just to heroin but as Bradshaw relates “any mood altering experience with life damaging consequences.” Think of the plethora of those that exist today.

In other words, heroin is not the only addiction plaguing our society but rather is a symptom of the sine qua non common denominator to all addictions; a shame-based belief that there is something fundamentally flawed about me to the point where I don’t like being me so I addict myself to something so I don’t have to be the real me.  Ultimately it is through embracing the pain of being deceived that you will finally set yourself free. This is difficult but can be done although it is a life-time commitment. After one finally comes to terms with their own demons can they truly say “Get behind me, Satan!”

I present to you a YouTube clip from Bradshaw on the Family… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PjAXINemG4

Joe Bialek,  Cleveland, OH

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