Although many of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.
-Jill Bolte Taylor
The mechanics of both addiction and recovery are deeply biological, as well as emotional and mental processes. But little is discussed in the realm of biological influences of addiction except for the changes in the brain. But a major, if unconscious, role of addiction is to alter and control our biology. To any extent that addictions are a reaction to personal trauma, they stand as an attempt to quiet an over-stimulated central nervous system. A body reacting from trauma is caught in aroused patterns of functioning similar to those of an animal running for its life. These biological patterns are often validated by the lifestyle that accompanies many addictions, creating very real current patterns of trauma that reflect the underlying biology. Any aspect of recovery that aims at processing old traumas must also address these underlying biological habits if we are to truly outgrow them. There are many effective paths toward this end—meditation, breathing-exercises, yoga, to name a few. But as much time as is traditionally spent on mental and emotional exploration and healing, often the biology is ignored. But as biological creatures, even if we successfully process the foundational traumas that our addictions attempted to pacify, if we don’t also break the biological habits that accompany them, we remain in a state of biological discomfort and may still require an external means of calming it.