“Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to – alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person – you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

While incorporating the other “A” words will help you live a richer life, avoiding this “A” word like the plague will help you live a richer life!

Addiction is born from pain and as the wise Eckhart Tolle reminds us addiction covers up our pain. In order to avoid or overcome addiction, we have to learn how to let go of the pain, forgive those who have hurt us, and move on so we do not get pulled down into the abyss that is often disguised as pleasure.

Addiction leads to a limited life. I have struggled with a food addiction most of my life. It’s not just any food like fruits and veggies, it’s SOS (Sugar, Oil, Salt) aka processed food which is part of the SAD (Standard American Diet). Pizza, hamburgers, french fries, fried chicken, deep fried fish, potato chips, cookies, cake, candy, soft drinks, ice cream, sweet tea… those were the foods I was addicted to that led to morbid obesity and inflammation which put me on the sidelines of life more times throughout the years than I can count.

Obesity made me uncomfortable in my skin to the point that I avoided going out in public, especially to the pool, which is something I love to do. It eventually affected my health causing life-threatening abscessed diverticulitis which resulted in having 18 inches of my colon removed, spending six months in recovery, and racking up over $100,000 in medical bills.

Addiction, especially to drugs and alcohol, has very negative outcomes which includes incarceration, disease, and death.

The best way to avoid and overcome addiction is through faith, affirmations, distraction, and support: I cannot stress enough how important my higher power, that I call God and sometimes the Universe, has been for me in so many areas including addiction. I will go deeper into this subject in the “Faith” and “Spirituality” section, but I am sure you know that faith has helped millions of people overcome addiction.

For distraction, find a positive and purposeful outlet for stress such as work you enjoy, volunteering, writing, exercise, drawing, painting, music or whatever you favorite hobby is that is not associated with any addictive habits.

Writing proved to be very cathartic for me to release the strangle hold of my past which in turn helped me create the Break the Cycle book series that helped other people write to release their pain. It doesn’t happen overnight, but a definite healing takes place that opens you up to getting the help and support you need.

If you are struggling with addiction or want to understand it better, read “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll and listen to his podcasts which you can find on his website Rich is a recovering alcoholic several years sober. He transformed his life through a plant-based lifestyle and the things mentioned above such as meaningful work, support, and exercise. In fact, he takes exercise to the next level as an endurance athlete. His show often features former addicts with powerful testimonies that are inspiring and prove that if they can do it, we can too!

The more I read books from survivors and connect with wellness warriors, the stronger I become. There are some powerful Ted Talks that makes a lot of sense about connection being the solution to addiction. Find as many of these positive messages, connections, and opportunities as you can to nourish your mind daily.  Believe that you are stronger than any obstacle that life presents you because you are!

Transcending Addiction – Jackie Hilos

Everything you think you know about addition is wrong – Johann Hari

The Power of Addiction and the Addiction of Power, Gabor Mate