People become addicted because they like how drugs and alcohol and process addictions make them feel. The addicted brain is different from the non-addicted brain. Complex biochemical processes and activation of specific neurotransmitters and the pleasure/reward pathways in the brain provide addicted people with a very different experience of drugs than non-addicted people have, a facsimile of a spiritual experience that mobilized the addictions deepest drives for transcendence. This experience associated with active addiction and addiction interactive disorder is so extraordinary for the addicted person that it seems that most, if not all, of life’s problems can be solved by engaging in active addiction. Some drugs such as benzodiazepine, opiates and alcohol create physical dependency as well which requires safe medical detoxification prior to treatment.
People in active addiction experience addiction as the solution for a number of significant life situations; difficult emotions, unresolved trauma, stress, interpersonal interactions and spiritual connectedness. From this point of view, active addictions are problematic to the extent that they become the central or even sole means an individual uses to address life. This “honest mistake,” confusing the problem with the solution, is often one of the most difficult issues for addicted individuals to resolve. The compelling value of the addictive experience and the devastating effects of active addiction creates an existential crisis of transcendent significance, a spiritual emergency that can only be resolved through opening to authentic spiritual experiences.
Pathways to recovery
Katharos Sanctuary approaches addiction as a spiritual emergency. As Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist stated "spirutus contra spiritum," the solution for alcoholism is a spiritual awakening. According to Stanislav Grof in his work with addiction, "addicts have a consuming need for transcendence." Integrating transpersonal psychotherapy, "technologies of transcendence," body-centered and experiential practices helps people with addiction experience recovery from active addiction. The experience of transcendence, integrated with addiction counseling and daily recovery practices provides the best basis for relapse prevention and a life of freedom, joy and happiness.