In part two of this interview, Scott Kiloby goes deeper into the question of what addiction really means, and how the question of moderation and abstinence is of particular importance.
Q: Tell me about the other substances and activities to which you have been addicted and that you have discussed in various articles on www.naturalrestforaddiction.com. I’m speaking of caffeine, love, food, sugar, Internet, sex, porn, gambling. How does abstinence v moderation work with regard to these substances and activities?
Scott: Let me break them down one by one, speaking from my own experience.
I don’t use caffeine. I find it to be one of those substances for which abstinence is the best approach, for me. Like drugs and alcohol, regular use of caffeine creates a constant up and down craving and withdrawal cycle, which creates an enslavement to it. It also negatively affects my energy level throughout the day. However, a year ago I drank a cup of caffeinated coffee. Was that a relapse? Instead of thinking in terms of abstinence v relapse, a better approach is to look at the issue of enslavement. The day after I drank that caffeine, I didn’t long for more caffeine. The enslavement was not there. That’s what real recovery is about in my view. It’s about the end of enslavement, not about the number of days, months or years one has not used a substance or activity.
As for tobacco, the tobacco companies infuse these products with chemicals that are extremely addictive. I refrain from that substance for that reason. Again, tobacco creates the up and down craving and withdrawal cycle. Best to stay away, although some can moderate tobacco use (again, I think that is rare).
As for love addiction, which I definitely suffered from, my Living Inquiries mindfulness approach (www.livinginquiries.com) and the trauma work I developed in the last ten years untangled the knot of my story of being unlovable. I was addicted to love because of this deficiency story. It’s as if I was trying to fill that hole inside me by looking for a person or other people to love me enough to make the wound go away. But no matter what happened, no amount of love would fill the hole. As I saw through the story, “I’m unlovable,” the love addiction fell away. Does that mean I abstain from love? Ha, hardly. I feel more love today than ever. Sometimes I can walk down the street and (metaphorically speaking) fall in love with a total stranger and then fall out of love within seconds or minutes. The attachment and obsession elements that so many people experience are absent in my life. It’s a lot like having that cup of caffeinated coffee. The enslavement is not there. I have been with my husband for 15 years and love him immensely. But the addiction to seeking out love is gone because the real underlying issue was addressed. Love as I know it today is more unconditional and not sticky or attached.
As for food and sugar, how could anyone remain completely abstinent? We need food to survive and our brains need a certain amount of sugar each day just to function. Again, the issue is not abstinence v relapse. The point of full recovery is to end all enslavement. These days, I eat extremely low amounts of sugar and carbs (just enough to give the brain what it needs) and usually only the good kind of sugar or carbs six days a week. I do splurge a bit on Fridays. But once I cut out all those sugars and carbs, the enslavement to food and sugar was gone. And, as with all my addictions, mindfulness was the most helpful way to deal with both the cravings as well as the underlying issues driving the food and sugar addiction.
Enslavement to the Internet, sex/porn, gambling, work, fame, attention and other process addictions have also fallen away. I engage in those activities but the enslavement is not there. I never watch porn. I enjoy sex but the enslavement to it is gone. When I visit Vegas, I may sit down at a slot machine for a few minutes, but the pull to stay and spend lots of money is just not there. Once again, it’s the enslavement that is gone. I can still enjoy life and its pleasures. I work quite a bit, but I cherish the times when I can just go relax and get away from work. I’m happiest when I infuse my work day with moments of just resting in present moment awareness, or enjoying the spa or playing with my dogs. This provides balance so that I can put work down when I need to. Working in this way is much less stressful. In fact, it doesn’t feel like work at all, let alone enslavement to it.
Stay tuned for Part 3, where Kiloby will reveal the secret to having a healthy relationship with activities that can become addictive.