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The Addictive Personality: Why Recovery is a Lifetime Thing

In his insightful book, The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior, author Craig Nakken explains why, even after an addict has given up the bottle or the weed, she will never be done with recovery:

Addiction is a process of buying into false and empty promises: the false promise of relief, the false promise of emotional security, the false sense of fulfillment, and the false sense of intimacy with the world….Like any other major illness, addiction is an experience that changes people in permanent ways. That is why it’s so important that people in recovery attend Twelve Step and other self-help meetings on a regular basis; the addictive logic remains deep inside of them and looks for an opportunity to reassert itself in the same or in a different form.

Nakken brilliantly explains the addictive cycle that I merely call “the exploding head phenomenon”: the process by which I continually seek relief from uncomfortable feelings, a “nurturing through avoidance — an unnatural way of taking care of one’s emotional needs,” as he says. The addict, he clarifies, seeks serenity through a person, place, or thing.

5 Comments to
The Addictive Personality: Why Recovery is a Lifetime Thing

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  1. As this article concludes it makes a natural lead into another Twelve-Step program: AlaNon. Recover for relationships occurs at those tables. Everyone affected by the disease of alcoholism is welcome to these tables. (Look on the web for local meetings.)

  2. Thank you Therese, for your insightful article here. I especially love your description of attempting to remain conscious in the middle of a pain attack as driving to drive a car on a back road in a snow storm. That does sum it up!

    I also think that those of us who tend toward the more addictive side of the spectrum are just more sensitive. We can feel things so deeply, so are literally required to gain greater skills in learning to navigate the painful, stressful, & scary times.

    Thank you again for deepening the conversation about addiction.

  3. “In addiction there is only an act of taking. Natural relationships are based on emotionally connecting with others; addiction is based on emotional isolation.”Dear Theresa,this is one-sided, and simplistic, many people in the addicion recovery field only get half the picture.For example, ignored are those who are addicted to relationships in which they give and give, and lose themselves. Ultimately it is all part of a desperately unhealthy ‘relational bargain’, but just as compelling, see for the type of person who is likely to get caught into such a relationship. see also Patrick Carnes the ‘Betrayal Bond’, and J.Masterson for the dynamic underlying the addictions.(The AA recovery literature emphasises the need to take ACCURATE inventory in many places. Which is also something that seems to be often overlooked.)Hope this is useful, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.river

  4. I really want to point out that even people that do not have addictive personalities can get addicted if they keep doing soemthing enough times.

    There’s nothing more pathetic than seeing someone in their late 20s or older getting hooked on cigarettes because they were “socially smoking” at a bar on the weekends.

    The reason addictive things are called addictive is because they’re ADDICTIVE. I know that there are people that are more prone to taking that first drink, first puff etc. But I think that some people have a false sense of security and believe they have more control than they do because there is this invisible line that defines an addictive personality. And really where is that line exactly? From what I’ve seen nobody knows where the line is until it’s too late anyway.

  5. Hi. I’d just like to recommend the lefkoe process. Specifically eliminating the one about change and the one about powerlessness. The change belief is free and I’m not sure about powerlessness one. It’s effective and gets to the root cause



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