The blog you are about to read is not an attempt to shame. It’s not an attempt to understate the severity of the destructive nature of substance abuse or sex addiction.
It’s a lesson on basic human biology meant to inspire us all to take a look at our heart and search our soul to try and become better people.
So yes, it’s my belief that every human is addicted. And it’s perfectly normal. Let me explain:
Since the existence of the human race, we need three things for our survival:
We are designed to feel good whenever we experience any one of the three on that list. By feel good I mean literally feel good.
Endorphins fill our bodies whenever we have accomplished something difficult. It’s the “runner’s high” effect. Striving for that feeling propels us to do incredible things like complete ironman races and climb Mount Everest. We also receive endorphins when we eat certain delicious food.
The endorphin rush is real and humans have always experienced it. It allowed men to track and hunt mammoths and take them down with basic weapons so they could survive. Endorphins are powerful and guess what? They are addictive.
It’s very common for a fitness freak to actually be addicted to going to the gym for the feeling they get after a strenuous workout. Is your stress reliever after a hard day at the office going to the gym and putting your body through pain? Do you eat a whole gallon of ice cream to lessen your sadness? You just might be an endorphin addict.
Then there is dopamine which we feel whenever we accomplish a task. Checking off the to-do list feels good for a reason. You get a shot of dopamine each time you cross something off the list. It’s the instant gratification “drug” of our body that makes us feel productive and important. We feel valuable, that what we are accomplishing is important. It allows for humans to be the only species to build and innovate. It drives us to change our environment to fit our needs instead of merely adapting to our environment. It’s a miracle drug giving us essentially limitless potential.
And yes it is highly addictive.
Next up we have serotonin. This one is proof that humans are built to live in community. If I feel respected. If I feel liked. If I am praised. Then I feel a ton of serotonin. And it feels so damn good!
Do you enjoy when parents show up to your graduation? How about being a part of a team? When the teacher opens their door to you for some extra tutoring so you are ready for the big test? When the boss recognizes your efforts in front of the whole company? Each of these scenarios boosts our level of serotonin significantly.
Serotonin is addictive. If your first thought upon waking up is to check social media for comments and likes, there is a decent chance you are addicted to serotonin.
Lastly let’s talk about oxytocin.
Unlike the first three, oxytocin is not an instant gratification type of feeling. It’s not a quick fix to help eleviate pain or suffering.
Oxytocin is love and a deep connection to another. A best friend, a spouse, etc. When one feels it they are secure in the knowledge that everything will be okay because someone loves them as deeply as possible and they love them back equally. Oxytocin sends the message to our brain that it’s okay to trust this person. We can let our guard down and just be. I read recently that the true definition of love is knowing that the other person could destroy you but trusting that they won’t. Oxytocin allows us to love like that. Wow.
Also unlike the other three, oxytocin is NOT addictive. In fact, there are multiple experiments regarding the use of oxytocin in treating certain addictions. The feeling is much stronger than the others so it takes longer to fade. You don’t need multiple hits throughout the day or week. It’s the feeling that we are all ultimately seeking so we can finally rest.
I am lacking oxytocin right now. I get it in strong doses whenever I am with my girls but then months pass and I need another hit. Most fathers get this hit daily or at least weekly. Many guys my age are married or at least dating. Some guys have a best friend that they could call up and would drop everything to hang out.
I currently only have my girls. And by “have” I mean I see them on occasion throughout the year. I’m hoping that since I live a lot closer now that the visits can increase. For now I must continue to trust God that He is giving me what I need.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not easy though. When I’m not getting a lot oxytocin then my body craves the other ones. As a recovering sex addict that’s incredibly dangerous. I must be aware of these dangers and relentlessly work my program.
Tomorrow morning I will get a dose of oxytocin and it will be just what the doctor ordered. I will skype with my daughters. The dosage will be a bit smaller than if we were in person but it will do the trick all the same.
I am turning 37 in October. I am a completely unashamed recovering addict. I may always be an addict. Learning how my disease works has opened my eyes to a whole new world. Learning about addiction has allowed me to experience real empathy for the first time in my life. Learning that at our core we are all addicts rocked me and deeply saddened me.
Now it motivates me to help all those still in the dark about their disease. I want to be a part of the growing recovery movement. A movement of love, acceptance and healing.
I want to spread the word that there is a drug that can cure all our ills.
It’s called love.