Effective addiction therapies consist of numerous important building blocks. One of them is helping the patients understand why they started using their drug. It’s useful to confront them with a list of questions. First of all, they should be asked to go back in time to their first exposure to the drug. Depending on the addiction, this can be alcohol, poker games, adult movies, computer games, dope or whatever. They should remember when exactly that happened and how it felt. It’s interesting to remember what they were thinking back then.
Patients should go Time-travelling
The logical next step in the analysis is to reflect upon the subsequent experiences with the drug. How did it continue up until today? It’s useful to remember when was the first time that the patient thought that his or her behavior was abnormal. When did they start suspecting that alcohol, games, poker or whatever became a type of “drug”? How did they use their drug at that time? Did they ever feel tension or pain that they could not ease? Did they have feelings of inferiority that they wanted to cover or compensate with the drug to make themselves feel better? What problems in their lives did they try to solve through using the drug?
Family, Friends, School, Jobs…
Patients should be encouraged to think especially in terms of parents, sisters, brothers, mentors, idols, high school, college, jobs, and even your leisure time. We all do things for a certain reason – that is human nature. What was the reason that they turned to alcohol, joints, slot machines, internet addictions or whatever their problem is?
The addicts should then put themselves into the shoes of the little child / adolescent / young man / young woman that they were in the past. They should try and remember under what circumstances they lived? It’s important to avoid looking back at the days with the maturity and wisdom they have today. What worries and fears did they carry back then? What were the limitations in their lives? Why did they use their drug as a means to escape reality? What positive effects did that have on them? Was there any behavior that could have given them similar positive effects?
A Conversation with the Inner Child
The next step during this element of an addiction therapy is time traveling. If they could travel through time and take today’s wisdom and experience with them, what would they advise the young boy / girl / teenager / young woman or man (let’s call it “inner child” from now on) that they were in the past. What would they do differently? Would there have been a better solution to their problems of the past?
Patients should recognize that their inner child (or inner adolescent or inner young adult) didn’t act in a mean way or with bad intentions (when using the drug). Therefore, the addict should learn understanding and compassion for the inner child. Patients need to ask themselves whether their inner child was guilty of everything that happened during the subsequent years or whether there was good reason for things happening the way they did?
Forgiveness is Key
Only when addicts forgive themselves for the mistakes of the past, (which may not even have been mistakes looking back at them!) they unlock one of the conditions to getting over their addictions and finding peace within themselves.
Author byline: I am Frank Lavario, founder and author of the Lavario programs. I (and my colleagues) have been working a lot with addicts all over the world during the past few years. Sometimes we put our experience into short articles.
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