Addictions and vices don’t help anxious people!

Everyday at our anxiety therapy practice we work with normal, sensible people, who are (for what ever reason) experiencing a great many symptoms of anxiety. In addition to all of the anxious physical sensations and noisy thoughts – about 50% of them seem to have become hooked by various addictions and vices.

If you think about it, addictions and vices do make some sense, because; if your good feelings feel numbed (through experiencing a long period of anxiety / depression) and your bad feelings are equally numbed (we call this apathy or anxiety drug induced indifference) then, the only other feelings you have to look forward to are the anxious or panicky ones!

Therefore, addictions and vices do introduce the ability for an anxious person to experience intense (favourable) emotions again – even if they are ultimately self sabotaging or destructive in the long term.

Typical addictions and vices

On the whole addictions and vices are a way to suppress or avoid the bad feelings generated by living with anxiety or depression. Human beings never cease to amaze us via the myriad of clever (and dumb) ways they can find to  (consciously or unconsciously) distract themselves from unwanted emotional bad feelings or the fears about being out of control or not good enough in some way.

  • Addicted to being right
  • Addicted to alcohol to ‘drown their sorrows’
  • Addicted to drugs that numb / enhance their emotions
  • Addicted to being in control – life, partner, children, work
  • Addicted to being a perfectionist (really a fear of failure)
  • Vices and compulsions; shopping, t.v., chocolate, sex, gambling etc.

So, vices are a kind of distraction and addictions are a craving for an emotionally good feeling. Either way, both are stating that you want your feeling to be different from that which they currently are. The addictions and vices do offer a temporary fix (a good feeling) however, nine time out of ten times, they follow up with bad feelings, such as, guilt, despair, anger and frustration.

Thus returning you to your original bad feelings and adding to their initial weight, plus, we have now added a new tranche of other consequences from the addictions and vices that enhance your misery; spending too much money, health implications, letting people down and mentally beating yourself up with crappy internal dialogue.

Top tip for ending addictions and vices
At some point it needs to really dawn upon you – that if you want to get real change in your life, you will need to focus on dealing with your underlying emotions rather than trying to suppress, avoid or change them. Addictions and vices are mainly methods of distraction, and are usually cloaked in hard to see out of date self beliefs

A new relationship with your emotions

Look at it this way – perhaps a woman might be afraid to say “No” to her boss and we asked her why? She may say, “It’s because I don’t want to let him down” or “I like helping” or “It’s my job to do that.” But if we dig deeper the reason she doesn’t want to say no is because that response is based in fear – a fear of rejection, a fear or retribution, a fear of not feeling good enough etc. and she doesn’t want to feel those bad emotions – However, unknowingly, she has suppressed those thoughts and set up new beliefs that it is good to help others or I mustn’t let people down. But underneath is still the fear of rejection and all the negative self talk that would ensue if she saw evidence from others that she wasn’t good enough (by her own out of date measures).

However, if she could be OK with her emotions (good or bad) because really they are just feelings – then she could be OK with guilt (because it is just a feeling) and if she was OK with guilt, then she could say “No” to her boss, because the worse that could happen is, she’d feel a little guilt – which she is now OK with at an emotional level!

Further more, as she became OK with her emotions and didn’t need to cover them up with beliefs and stories of who she ought to be – then she could finally shake off all the labels she had given herself and realise that she always was good enough after all! And that is a good feeling we can hold onto all of the day – so addictions and vices become a whole lot less required!

But I have an addictive nature….

For those of you who quite like their addictive nature (and there are some) we would like to suggest that you turn it in on itself, for example; if you are addicted to chocolate – change your addiction to healthy food or exercise – if you are addicted to drinking whisky, change that addiction so you become addicted to drinking water. If you are addicted to controlling other people, become addicted to letting go. It is a lot more sensible than it sounds!

And if a voice in your head says – “Yes but, whiskey is nice and water is horrible.” Then you might want to explore what is that belief doing for you that is positive? – Then change it.

Is it time to take control of your emotions?

When you are ready to overcome anxiety and let go of depressive points of view you will need to address any addictions and vices. The Calmness In Mind Anxiety & OCD Treatment Program will teach you how to strip back all of the stories you have generated about yourself, to a place where you can set-up a new relationship with your emotions, one where you are in control.

Let’s not waste any more time with anxiety, addictions and vices…..