There’s plenty of debate in medical circles about the role that genetics play within the role of addiction. Some people believe they were born with their illness, personally I don’t believe this to be true for me, here’s my experience and thoughts around where my alcoholism came from and how it developed…
I’ve been in therapy recently discussing this subject at length with my therapist (who herself has over twenty years experience within AA). This has been one of the great benefits to getting sober, being able to look at other areas of my life and begin working through other issues in my life which I was never able to address when I was drinking or using. We’ve been discussing my early childhood, looking at issues like emotional and physical abandonment, traumatic experiences throughout my life and my lack of emotional development during my upbringing.
During these therapy sessions it became clear when I was young I never had a safe way of expressing emotion or getting emotional support when I needed it, during my teenage years and into university I was able to suppress and run from my emotions through drinking and drug taking instead of facing up to life. I was able to put on a mask and hide from the world.
During my twenties and into my early thirties this continued but I would further hide behind work, my drinking and drug taking began to get progressively worse, I would start to weaponise certain parts of my character to further cut myself off from the world, my negative thinking and behaviour patterns, my spiritual condition and ultimately my alcoholism continued to worsen as a result.
Even from my earliest drinking It was clear I have a different reaction to alcohol and drugs to most regular people. I had what’s referred to in 12 Step programmes as the ‘allergy’ (an abnormal sensitivity), once I started drinking and using I’d continue without any control to ultimately detach myself as much as possible from my emotions and the world around me. The work I’ve done recently in therapy has been great to further understand how my past has played a part in my addiction.
Whether we are born with the illness of addiction, or if it’s something we develop as a result of our upbringing, environment or trauma; the important thing is that we’re able to get the help we need to overcome it through whatever means necessary. I’m personally incredibly grateful I’ve finally found a way out of the isolation, misery and despair and finally working towards a full life thanks to my own programme of recovery.