Ask not why the addiction, but why the pain.
-Gabor Mate

There is altogether too much emphasis put on the subject of our addictions—on the substances or behaviors through which the addiction expresses itself. This emphasis is evident in our general insistence that traditional abstinence be a necessary component of recovery for everyone seeking treatment, regardless of their individual situation. It is further evidenced by the drug wars we endlessly wage and the legal prohibition we continue to put on drugs, themselves. But as today’s quotation illustrates, recovery is about healing, it’s about developing an understanding that our addictions answer an often unrecognizable call to end deep feelings of emotional discomfort. Recovery is about growth, connection, and integration. Recovery is the process through which we learn to answer the call, coming from deep within, to learn to cater to our pain in useful and sustainable ways. Recovery is the process of becoming open to the emotional landscape that we have endeavored to suppress through the protective but faulty promise of our addictions. Only when we stop relying on this form of protection do we stand a chance at successfully experiencing the parts of ourselves that hurt, and when we can let ourselves hurt, we can learn to heal. When we are healed, we will naturally have no need for our addictions.

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