A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it. -JRR Tolkien
Addictions are an attempted shortcut. If a substance or behavior is relied upon heavily enough that it becomes an addiction, it does so because it seems to create some sense of temporary well-being. Addictions, however, don’t fix the underlying emotional patterns causing the discomfort that fuels and motivates them. The most that addictions can do is temporarily mask the symptoms that these underlying emotional patterns cause, creating this shortcut from pain to relief. The paradoxical problem, of course, is that it isn’t sustainable. If addiction becomes problematic, it does so because it takes more and more of our energy to sustain it, energy that must be taken from other areas of our life. In some cases we have almost nothing left with which to maintain even the semblance of functional living. Recovery, then, must meet these emotional needs in a real and sustainable way. The process of addiction recovery means we face these underlying patterns, allowing them to teach us what it is they require to be satisfied. There is no shortcut through this process, but in our recovery we can still end up properly treating the parts of ourselves that we improperly attempted to treat through our addictions.