Does it happen in your  home?  

When you think of addicts do you think that is only drug addicts and alcoholics? Have you joked that  your partner is a workaholic or that you find a particular TV show or food addictive?  

There are so many things to be addicted to, if you have the propensity to be an addict! Could you be  an addict?  


Psychology Today states that addiction is not a substance disorder, it’s a social disorder. That  addiction is not about substance abuse, it’s about the user’s “inability to connect in healthy ways  with other human beings”.  

Looking around at all the people on their smartphones, earphones in, not making eye contact with  those around, I would have to agree – there is a social disorder, and it probably happens in your  home. Some things we can be addicted to:  

Alcohol Narcotics Food Technology
Sex Television Fantasy Gambling
Rage Pornography Work Sugar
Shopping Self harm Cigarettes Caffeine

Codependence and Addiction 

Pia Mellody, Senior Clinical Advisor for The Meadows Treatment Centre, describes codependency  (excessive reliance on other people for a sense of identity or approval) as the primary disease that  lead to issues with control, resentment, mental illness, physical illness, difficulty with intimacy and  addictions.  

In her work, Pia showed how “codependents carry their abusive caretakers’ feelings. These ‘carried’  feelings lead to rage, panic, unboundaried curiosity, dire depression, shame as worthlessness or  shamelessness, and joy as irresponsible childishness”. Pia came to understand ‘abuse’ in a much  broader context than it was previously understood. Not all abuse leaves physical bruises!  

Abuse of any form is about power and control, sometimes this is done deliberately, and sadly  sometimes this is the only way caregivers know how to be, because that’s what they learnt from  their family. Which leaves children of these caregivers potentially codependent, seeking approval  and identity, and harbouring feelings of ‘not good enough’.  

Easy to see why then self-harm in any form (including addiction) is not a big leap, and why self-care  is such a struggle.  

What can we do about it?  

The beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) show the need for, and success of, the 12 step  program. It is self help for those who are suffering, and provides connection, support, and  identification with others going through the same challenges. 

Since AA’s beginnings in 1935, there have been a number of 12 step programs that have sprung  forth. These range from Narcotics Anonymous to Clutterers Anonymous and groups that provide  support for the families of addicts. Addiction is a family, and generational, disease passed on from  parents to children – even if you are trying oh so hard NOT to pass it on!  

A visit to rehab centre is a great place to start, a chance to get clean of any substance you might be addicted to, including sugar and coffee. But rehab alone won’t be sufficient to overcome the inability to connect with other humans. This is where 12 step programs help, and as they say in the program  “it works if you work it”.  

Rehab or recovery centres are for more than just substance addictions, they also provide therapy  and insight for anxiety and depression – remember the primary disease of codependence described  above.  

Naturopathic support  

When there is a lack of self-care, resulting in the wrong diet, abuse of substances, destructive  behaviours – they take their toll not only mentally, but also physically.  

Understanding that big changes might not be possible for someone who struggles with self care,  herbs and nutritional supplements can be used to help rebalance brain chemistry, manage moods  and stresses. Then when you have achieved some recovery, informed changes to diet and lifestyle  can continue to support your mental and physical health.  

You matter!! Take care of yourself, and please let me know if I can help.  

A few recovery resources in Australia:

References: opposite-addiction-is-connection Spring2007 Bradshaw.pdf US/historical-data-the-birth-of-aa-and-its-growth-in-the- uscanada