Positive and Negative Addictions
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
Moving from addictive behavior to positive constructive behavior in your life is a self-help journey. You are the master of your own destiny as you progress on your quest for total health and wellness.
It is you who decides that you want to be clean and sober. It is you who decides that you want to quit smoking. It is you who will take yourself to an AA meeting. It is you who will make decisions about the food that you eat. It is you who will do the things that are necessary to make sure that you maintain abstinence from whatever addiction you are quitting.
In the first stage of quitting a particular behavior it is OK to immerse yourself in activities that are positive for your physical body and that help you relax some of your natural anxieties. Even if you’re replacing a negative addiction for something positive—e.g., exercising, cleaning the house, or doing yoga—these behaviors will create new patterns that you will eventually balance out.
Negative addictions are such that they don’t balance out, though. This is especially the case regarding dietary behavior. For example, when a person has an addiction to refined processed sugar, then the more they consume, the more they need and want to consume. The addiction is like an infinite loop that never comes to an end. There’s something about the refined processed sugar—which is devoid of the naturally occurring nutrients that came from the source of the sugar—that doesn’t communicate to the body when we are satiated. When we’re not getting that sugar we have cravings. The cravings cause anxieties, and we reach out for more of that substance to temporarily relieve those anxieties.
However, if we eat an apple or if we drink pure, fresh, homemade unpasteurized apple juice, the sugar will absorb into the body with nutrients that were contained in the apple. Together those things will communicate with the chemistry of your body: It’s similar to a key fitting precisely into the lock and opening the lock. And the body will not crave overconsumption of that substance.
A couple of hours later we might feel hungry and want another apple or more juice. But it will be because we were moving about and doing activity and we need the energy, not because we were feeling an unnatural craving. Fruit and starchy vegetables essentially “connect” with our brains and bodies in a way that is healthy and is not an obsessive craving phenomenon.
When we eat natural foods we will be unlikely to overeat. We may do so to a degree, but not to the point of making ourselves sick.
Addictions that stem from anxiety lead us towards self-destructive behaviors. These types of addictions require constant feeding, and the cravings can never be filled. But when we concentrate on behavior such as exercise, yoga, deep breathing, reading self-help books, writing, gardening, cleaning the house, and helping others, there will come a point where our minds will become still.
This being the case, those positive types of behaviors can have a soothing effect on our mind. That is because not only do they affect our chemistry in a positive way, but they also change negative behavior patterns. And replacing negative addictions for good ones is always an improvement.
Addictions, good or bad, serve as distractions. We do need to get to the point of sitting in stillness, in quiet meditation and reflection, as we progress on the journey towards self-healing. Doing so requires getting to a point of not feeling compelled to react or take actions that may distract us from that purpose. But we should continue to engage in positive behaviors both while we strive to get there and after we reach the degree of enlightenment that we seek.