Addiction is very hard on the addict and the loved ones. A year of having the Kiloby Center as a serene and peaceful atmosphere for working with clients on addiction has revealed a lot about why addiction treatment has such a historically low success rate. The scientific research as well as other programs that focus on traditional therapy often overlook the actual experience of addiction from an interior awareness view. Interior awareness is what we actually experience when we are addicted – how it feels within, the thoughts that arise along with the body cravings as well as fixations and blocked energies in the body and mind. Research in the last several years has focused mainly on brain imaging and chemistry. This research has made great strides in understanding what happens in the pathways and different sections of the brain during addiction. But that is precisely why it is partial and limited. When we are addicted, we don’t experience pathways and parts of the brain. We experience thoughts, emotions and sensations – and these are what tell us that we must use an addictive substance or activity. Even if scientists are discovering what pathways and sections of the brain are activated during addiction, the hard and fast truth is that our interior awareness is our direct access to why and how we remain addicted. Without a change in the interior awareness, all the scientific knowledge in the world can’t help us. And frankly, most of the scientific research is geared towards developing more drugs. Is this the recovery that we want as a nation – the replacement of these drugs with different drugs? Don’t we want something more than that, something that actually deals with the issues that are happening in our interior awareness? This medication-free model is what we strive for at the Kiloby Center.
After working for one year at the Center and many years before that in private and group sessions, here is what I know about the interior experience of addiction and how to recover from it:
- If a thought of using arises (and thoughts can either be words in the mind such as “I need a beer” or mental pictures like a mental image of beer), that thought has no power unless there is a corresponding sensation in the body that feels stuck to the thought. This experience of thoughts being stuck to sensations is what we call “the Velcro Effect” at the Center. Undoing the velcro effect is the key to recovery at the Center.
- The body plays a vital role in addiction and cannot be overlooked. It’s not just the mind/brain. Contractions are areas of the body that feel dense or blocked and that seem to scream for some kind of relief. This is the “sensation” part of the Velcro Effect. As long as these contractions are there, addiction will be present in some form, even if there is a substitution of one drug for another. Body contractions are often fixated upon by the mind. When the contraction arises, the mind fixates on how uncomfortable it is. It fixates by focusing on images and words that seem to carry a command to use something. The good news is that when body contractions release and the mind is no longer fixated on these areas of the body, addiction can release. And this is not just the release of an addiction to one substance, but rather to all the substances and activites that are associated with that body part. For example, if someone quits smoking (which is often felt as a contraction or blocked energy in the chest), they are likely to pick up another substance or activity (like sugar) as a way to cover up the contraction. This does not deal with the contraction itself. When the contraction itself is released, substitution ends. This is a greater relief from the overall cycle of addiction.
- The mind is often fixated not only on the thoughts about using but also on the sensations or emotions in the body that seem to indicate a command to use. When the mind loses its fixation on the thoughts of using and on the bodily sensations or emotions that carry such a command, it is practically impossible to remain addicted.
- Addiction is a very powerful mechanism. It’s like a habit of the body and mind. But that habit can be undone without the use of medications. Drugs that are being developed to simply obscure these body and mind elements of thoughts, emotions and sensations are really only covering up the issue. The deeper freedom is through mindfulness and deep body work. When we learn to undo the Velcro Effect through mindfulness, we simply don’t need medications like anti-depressants or medications that block cravings. The depression and addiction simply aren’t there.
- Talk therapy and any program that focuses simply on changing one’s thinking or replacing old beliefs with new beliefs often have minimal success because they are focusing on the wrong thing. Addiction is a primal urge that arises from the midbrain. Changing one’s rational thinking only changes the front part of the brain. These two areas of the brain do not communicate once addiction takes hold. Therefore, even if someone has made a decision to quit using (a forebrain action), the midbrain may still be very active, creating constant urges to use. And if these urges are connected to bodily sensations (the “Velcro Effect”) it is very difficult to resist the urge. This is why mindfulness is so important. It helps to witness and release all that activity in the midbrain and it releases all fixation.
We use various methods at the Kiloby Center to undo the Velcro Effect including inquiry, rest, aperioga and new techniques that quiet the mind’s fixation with substances, activities and the blocked energies that lie at the root of the desire to use.
For more information on our program, Call or email us email us at 1-866-kiloby-5 or firstname.lastname@example.org.