Men Who Struggle with Addictions and False Attachment.
Most men have very few real relationships. For 30 years I’ve worked with every kind of professional man. Whether a lawyer, teacher, engineer, land developer, actor or construction worker, most men do not have a genuine friendships with another man. By genuine I mean where they can expose their true self, their fears and insecurities. No matter what socioeconomic class we find ourselves in, men have been socialized to be independent and self-sufficient. As a result we hide our addictions and fear of failure. We live emotionally isolated lives, ashamed of our secrets and addictions.
This isolation is self-perpetuating. Trapped in it, we turn to addictions for comfort, which in turn only creates more shame and isolation.
In my counseling practice, I have seen success in helping men understand the motivation behind their insecurities and addictions. Often an early childhood trauma has been ignored or downplayed and we ignore the deep-seated impact that it has had on our self-esteem.
As an example, if a man was molested by a babysitter, whether the sitter was male or female, it is very common to bury that memory. That shame is suppressed deep down inside of themselves. Yet over the years the poison of that trauma permeates all of their relationships.
As a result most men have difficulty attaching and bonding in relationships.
Their attachments can be fickle and fleeting. Their attachments can be very intense but they can also be very unstable. This dynamic creates the perfect foundation for sexual addiction.
In my work with professional man, I have seen enormous healing from past trauma. It is a healing that takes place over hard work and time. But it is a healing that promotes recovery and genuine self-acceptance.
If you know of someone in this situation, a man caught in addictions, whether alcohol, gambling or pornography, let them know there is help. It’s hard for most men to imagine that they can find a place to unpack their fears, to unpack the past traumas, and to begin the process of healing through professional counseling.
The goal is to establish competent friendships.
Counseling seeks to help men move forward in creating honest and supportive friendships- with other men who themselves are emotionally mature and trustworthy.
This dynamic, of becoming more vulnerable, fosters greater intimacy with those whom we love.
Addictions are powerful, yet destructive. They have built-in rewards and immediate results that make them hard to break. Steven Unruh works with individuals with addictions on a weekly basis.
Addiction is an uncontrolled search for gratification through a relationship with a substance or activity to the exclusion of other more diverse life experiences.
The substance or activity, with which the addict forms a relationship, varies with each person.
The addictive quest for pleasure has some defining characteristics. Many addictions aim to increase arousal. This is the all-powerful feeling that might come from cocaine, amphetamines, the first few drinks of alcohol, shoplifting, sexual acting out or gambling.
This feeling of omnipotence, however, is undermined when the addict realizes that a dependency has been formed.
A feeling of fear replaces the feeling of being all-powerful – fear of losing the source of addiction and fear that others will find out how powerless and inadequate they really feel.
Negative experiences always accompany the positive feelings the addict is seeking. Sometimes an addiction is coupled with a personality disorder, such as an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Usually the treatment for OCD requires medication.
Addictions have a biological component.
Success with an addiction is seen when someone is willing to change, attends 12 step groups, has an accountability partner, grows spiritually, gets weekly psychotherapy and explores with a doctor whether medication is appropriate.
Addictions are a replacement of a real need.
It is impossible to have a real, lasting and meaningful relationship with and addict ! Their drug takes precedence over people.
Even a person who is addicted to pornography. They are on-line for hours a day, which adds up to hours and hours each week, wasting time and money, to the detriment of their family and job. They hide their real pain through activities that become destructive. Only when an addict can admit they their life is “out – of –control’’, will they be able to find healthy and legitimate ways of beginning the process to heal.
There is hope – Addiction Counseling.