Take it back a few years, to my addictive years and early, early recovery. This is the blood and gore to my addictive mind…
Don’t you love watching a movie that within the first few scenes someone is either shooting up drugs or getting an arm or a leg chopped off? The blood I see from watching that needle drop in the movie is almost as pleasurable as doing it myself. Or seeing someone else being inflicted in pain is like a mental release to me. It feeds my reward system and gives me the same feeling as a dope drop would. It’s sad to say but that’s the only reason I was obsessed with watching these types of movies in my active addiction or even very early on in recovery. Thank goodness I don’t feel that way anymore. Today I’m stuck watching romance/comedies with my wife, and that’s completely okay with me as I know recovery has better plans, just for today.
In addiction there was a particular movie that I was always drawn to. It was titled “Candy,” starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish. Abbie was Candy but it played off the lows to highs and cycling of addiction to recovery on heroin throughout the movie. But the key scenes I was drawn into were the scenes where I could see Heath ‘playing around’ with heroin, the overdose scenes where Abby/Candy lay in a bath, or the things they would go through that were all too similar to my addiction at the time. I would typically watch this movie in the first month of my recovery (the first time) nearly every day, if not twice or thrice a day. I even went to the lengths of ordering it from Australia where it had been shot. This was the movie that Heath had done while preparing for his role in the Batman series. Ironic…?
Then there was the epitome of gore movies, the “Saw” series, as well as “Hostel.” My mom would walk in as someone were being tortured and asked me why I’d be laughing? I could only reply that it was funny to me. The feeling of pleasure that it gave me was like nothing else. I’m not sure if it was because someone was in more misery than me, the release of blood, or if it was just that it would get my heart beating faster than any other activity I would do besides the process of actually getting high. I could stare at a screen and get that down right dirty feeling of the “rush.”
I thought this was a safe way to live in my early recovery because I wasn’t getting high—on drugs—but I was still able to ‘help’ myself escape into another world of triggers, emotional and physical highs, and flash back material. However, this was countering my recovery. In fact, I was taking more steps back than I was forward with this. As my therapist said, “No sex, no caffeine, no cigarettes, and certainly no horrifically stimulating material in the first year of your recovery!” But I’d walk into her office and admit to doing all of these (besides the cigarettes) every time. I would get the same motions from her every time but I didn’t understand, all I knew is that it felt good. I was stuck in the process of learning my limits and knowing my true ‘self’ in recovery. I was yet to bring that awareness into my life and still stuck in a state of ignorance. I hadn’t known that just being sober wasn’t okay. But I would soon find out!
With watching these types of triggering movies I wasn’t only falling back into the same old patterns of lifestyle while in addiction and triggering myself on purpose for a certain type of high, but I was doing something way worse. The reason I wasn’t recovering yet was because while watching these types of damaging material at that point in my life, they would set off the same chemicals and neurotransmitters that were stimulated during addiction. As I have recently learned there are more behavioral addictions than there are simply substance addictions, but the matter being that they both act the same way in getting ‘high.’
While watching these films I was still feeding what is called the ‘reward zone’ in my brain or my ‘pleasure center.’ This was fed by these triggering emotions and episodic materials I was experiencing that were releasing dopamine and serotonin in the same way, as if I was getting high from injecting heroin. I was trying to recover in other ways, but it all makes sense why recovery moved a little slower than I had planned. These types of addictions are called behavioral addictions, and it’s important to note that they release the same flood of dopamine that someone who is drinking, shooting alcohol, or binge eating (eating disorders) gets.
How does this relate to recovery?
So in conclusion the recovery is where we work on ourselves, because we can just “stay sober” but let our old behaviors get the best of us and still be feeding these illicit behavioral addictions. This is why in recovery we need to work on more than just stopping drinking or drugging, but we need to work on the whole essence of addiction, including the behavioral aspects of it as well. This is another way our motto 100% sober comes into living and playing in our lives. If we weren’t to work on anything but just quitting drinking, we would still be stuck at that same spot we were when we started drinking. The importance of halting addictions is key, but the process of moving forward away from those addictions and into a better way of living away from negative behavioral aspects as well is where the healing will come into play on our spirituality, mind, body, and soul.
In conclusion from this nitty gritty episode on horror and violence, I say this. Addiction comes in many forms, and is not just a use of the drugs or alcohol. We must learn to accept this, have an open mind to moving forward, and follow the guidance of those who have led the way before on how to change our old patterns of thinking into something healthy and worth recovering for. We must work on ourselves fully, not just quitting drinking, we must change what was holding us back, and turn it into our strength. So, I’ll say it again…
“Recovery isn’t just stopping the drinking or drugging, it’s a full body, mind, and soulful healing that takes place. It’s learning to treat and change behaviors that got us into using in the first place. It’s about moving forward, working on yourself, and it’s about a holistically healing approach, because with one area lacking, we may find all areas lacking. So take the time to work on your whole ‘self’ as a part of our daily routine, so we don’t let our behavioral addictions feed us back into a substance fed addiction as well.”
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