Stopping Addictions (EMotion Downloads)

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Tapping, said Burk, is like finding the malware program and uninstalling it. I wasn't exactly sold, though. While EFT has clearly been shown to reduce anxiety, researchers are torn on how that happens. Some say that tapping releases blocked energy, trapped in our body due to trauma.

Some say it's a placebo effect; others say that tapping on the body in any way can be therapeutic. When these energy points are stimulated, it reduces heart rate and shuts off the fight or flight response, and they're able to respond in a more appropriate way. It seemed silly to compare my sugar cravings with serious anxiety, but Burk insisted that EFT helps heal both. That program tells you it's a quick fix, and you'll feel better briefly.

What you do is access the feeling of anxiety that's causing cravings, tap on it, and remove the trigger of anxiety for that personal craving. That rush of relief I felt when I got my hands on a Butterfinger? That was relief from anxiety, which built up after a long day of writing and errands and working mom chaos. I had become dependent on candy to soothe my anxiety — but I didn't want to be any longer.

Since it was quick, no-cost and apparently effective, I decided I'd give EFT a shot and hope for the best. With the direction of Gabrielle Berenstein , I started tapping on the feeling of anxiety that was causing my sugar cravings. I'm frustrated with myself. I feel sad and angry and stuck. Normally, feeling this anxiety would make me run immediately out the door and buy a Butterfinger bar.

But the tapping grounded me. You can sit here and feel this, I told myself. Just stay in your discomfort for a moment — you'll survive. This is because improvement or recovery from disorders of agency requires patients to break the cycle by doing things differently. After all, people will only try to change what they believe lies in their power to change [ 37 , 53 , 54 ].

Hence the clinical task with such patients is not to deny their agency and rescue them from blame by pathologising their behaviour, but to work with them and help them to develop their sense of agency and responsibility — to support and empower people to make different choices. In the clinic, the purpose of employing the concept of responsibility is therefore not fundamentally a form of backwards-looking moral evaluation, whereby a person is judged and potentially condemned for their past behaviour.

Rather, the purpose of employing the concept of responsibility is fundamentally forwards-looking, serving to identify where there exists capacity for change thanks to the presence of choice and control, and, through clinical practices of holding responsible and to account, to motivate and encourage people to break the cycle — to develop, learn, and ultimately change what they choose to do and their sense of who they are and can be. Of course, the exact nature of clinical practices of holding responsible and to account varies between therapeutic modalities.

It is a staple of clinical practice that, because these forms of holding responsible and to account have the potential to feel punitive, they must be effected with an attitude of concern, respect, and compassion, as opposed to being accompanied by or expressive of any of the feelings, thoughts or actions constituting an affective form of blame.

For, once again, the point is not to morally evaluate and condemn, but rather to care for patients and help them improve and recover. Affective blame is understood within clinical practice to undermine the capacity of responsibility and accountability to enable change and empower, because of its propensity to make patients feel rejected, worthless, ashamed and uncared for, thereby rupturing the therapeutic relationship as well as damaging any sense of hope for the future they might otherwise have, and, correspondingly, any motivation or belief that they really can overcome their difficulties [ 37 , 39 ].

The clinic thus offers a corrective to the tendency to understand our concept of responsibility as linked with affective blame, by offering a clear and established practice of attributing responsibility for problematic behaviour and holding to account without affective blame, but instead with positive regard, maintaining attitudes such as concern, respect, and compassion throughout. Hence reflection on clinical practice brings into sharp relief a distinction between whether the patient has choice and a sufficient degree of control over their behaviour to be appropriately asked to take responsibility and held to account, and how others respond to patients who are responsible for behaviour that causes harm during the process of addressing it and holding them to account.

Community members may be responsible and held to account for behaving in ways which are harmful, but without affective blame colouring the attitudes and actions of those engaging with them throughout this process.

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In effect, the clinical stance of responsibility without blame charts a course between the moral and disease models of addiction. On the one hand, like the moral model, it acknowledges the role of choice in addiction, thereby opening the door to the possibility of responsibility. Of course, it is important to recognise that choice and responsibility are not all or nothing, but come in degrees. People can have greater or fewer choices genuinely available to them, and more or less capacity for control.

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Those, like many addicts, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds typically have fewer available choices; equally, in so far as drug use is a habitual pattern of coping with negative emotions and psychological distress, the desire to use will not only be strong but equally serves an important psychological function. It is therefore extremely difficult to forego drugs unless and until the underlying feelings and difficulties are addressed, alternative healthier coping mechanisms are learned, and more options are available. For these and other reasons, agency may sometimes be diminished compared to the norm, and responsibility correspondingly reduced.

But reduction is not extinction: choices may be limited and control hard to achieve, without either being nullified. On the other hand, unlike the moral model but like the disease model, the clinical stance of responsibility without blame maintains an attitude towards addicts of care. Rather it aims to mobilize a sense of agency and empowerment in addicts, avoiding blame not through conceiving of them as helpless victims of disease, but through acknowledging and working with their agency without adopting moralising or stigmatising attitudes and practices. Undeniably, this runs counter to many aspects of the current cultural climate, which both appears to have a near insatiable appetite for self-righteousness and blame, and — as we saw at the opening of this article — severely stigmatises drug users and addicts.

But — and this is the key point — just as those we may find ourselves unthinkingly inclined to blame and stigmatise often have a choice over their behaviour, we have a choice over how we respond. There are choices on both sides. Marc Lewis has diagnosed a genuine dilemma: the disease model is neither credible in the face of the evidence nor helpful in so far as it disempowers addicts; but, with the continued influence of the moral model on our thinking, a choice model invites blame and stigma by attributing agency and responsibility to addicts.

In response, he has opted to distance himself from both. But that is an unstable position given the evidence that addicts respond to incentives and the importance of agency and responsibility — alongside other factors, to be sure — in overcoming addiction. We must accept a choice model of addiction — although the need to contextualise choices and understand the variety of ways control, agency, and so too responsibility, may be reduced in addiction is equally crucial [ 16 , 19 , 20 , 37 , 54 , 56 , 57 , 58 ].

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However, accepting a choice model of addiction incurs a moral burden. Given that it invites blame and stigma, there is an obligation to ensure they are rejected. Choice models of addiction ought therefore to be paired with a practice of interrogating our own attitudes towards addiction alongside a commitment to working for social justice. The clinical model of responsibility without blame opens up this possibility by better distinguishing our concept of responsibility from our concept of blame, thereby helping to block any immediate tendency to slide from one to the other — in theory and in practice.

But the hard task remains, of shifting attitudes and fighting for social good. I want to conclude by taking one small step towards this goal, through diagnosing how a forced choice between the moral model and the disease model functions to prevent us from reflecting on what our part is, as a society, in drug use and addiction. Suppose we begin by asking a direct question to challenge the moral model: What precisely is supposed to be wrong with using drugs? Drugs make us feel good, provide relief from suffering, and help us do various things we want to do better.

Given a commitment to basic liberal values, where individual freedom to pursue a multiplicity of goods is respected so long as harm to others does not accrue, it is difficult to see what could possibly be wrong with using drugs in and of itself [ 61 ].

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In other words, as a rule of thumb, drug use becomes problematic only if it causes the negative consequences characteristic of addiction — the chronic and severe harms to self and others. Suppose now we ask a further direct question: When use escalates to the point of addiction, who is to be held responsible for the ensuing negative consequences?

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According to the moral model, it is addicts themselves, who are not only responsible but to blame, as they are considered to be fundamentally people of bad character with antisocial values. Do we collectively bear such responsibility? As noted above, a disproportionate number of addicts come from underprivileged socioeconomic backgrounds, have suffered from childhood abuse and adversity, struggle with mental health problems, and are members of minority ethnic groups or other groups subjected to prejudice and discrimination.

They may experience extreme psychological distress alongside a host of mental health problems apart from their addiction [ 12 ], feel a lack of psychosocial integration [ 10 , 14 , 15 ], and are at a socioeconomic disadvantage such that they have severely limited opportunities [ 10 , 11 , 13 ].

These circumstances are central to understanding addiction in many contexts [ 16 , 19 , 20 , 36 , 54 ]. In such circumstances, whatever harms accrue from using drugs must be weighed against whatever harms accrue from not using them.

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For this reason, the explanation of addiction and its associated negative consequences must lie in no small part with the psycho-socio-economic circumstances that cause such suffering and limit opportunities. And the existence of these circumstances is a feature of our society for which we must all collectively take some responsibility, for we tolerate it.

Perhaps one reason, then, why we blame and stigmatise addicts for their choices is that it is more comfortable than facing up to aspects of our society which make drugs — whatever their costs — such a good option for many of our already vulnerable and disadvantaged members. Moreover, if psychoactive substances are to be criminalised, there is no valid neurochemical or public health justification for exempting alcohol, which is associated with high rates of addiction and harm [ 5 ].

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However, it is important to note that social deviance can sometimes be a source of positive self-identity and value, especially for those belonging to a shared subculture [ 6 , 7 ]. Calling addiction a disease not only mitigates massive volumes of stigma and guilt but also aims to provide accessible avenues for addicts to get help. For discussion of some of the more striking features of this research, see Pickard and Ahmed [ 20 ].

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For further discussion, see Pickard [ 36 ], Pickard and Ahmed [ 20 ]. This is less a decision than a discovery. My view that the way to stop drinking is to stop drinking is laughably simplistic on the surface. The way to stop drinking is to want sobriety more.