Addiction News

Problems Behind The Problem Of Addiction

I was pretending to be Superman when my mother’s frantic cries for help brought a sudden halt to my game. I ran towards the kitchen faster than a speeding bullet. But a Superman t-shirt with a bath towel tucked into the collar didn’t give me superhuman strength. Peering just below the vinyl seat of our yellow kitchen chairs, my eyes widened as Dad pinned my mother to the cold linoleum floor. He was a large man, standing 6’1”, and Mum was 4’6”. The image seemed surreal, like a horror movie, and I stood frozen in fear. There was an odor of carnage as Dad hovered over her. Maybe it was the mixture of sweat and testosterone rising from his green work shirt. Pure, unfiltered terror flooded my body and my heart beat so fast it seemed to smash against my ribs. Dad was hurting Mum. Nothing can be more terrifying for a four year old. A young boy’s mother is his world. She was my life giver, my first love, my heart and soul. The thought of anyone harming her was truly horrifying and beyond my comprehension, especially when that someone was my father. Hearing my big sister crying hysterically and begging Dad to stop only added to the horror.  

When Dad lost his temper the pupils of his eyes narrowed to pinpoints. An expression that can only be described as half human, half animal would creep over his face. That’s when the man I knew and loved would vanish. Nothing strikes more fear into a young child’s heart than watching his father turn from hero to monster. Unless the monster’s gaze is directed towards him or someone he loves. Terrified and helpless seem such inadequate words to describe the experience. Long periods of thick, uneasy tension broken by violent outbursts were the norm in our home. Like the foreboding scent of an approaching thunderstorm, you always knew when something was going to set him off. That something was usually my mother or older sister. Both were the center of my universe. Witnessing my father’s knees planted hard into my mother’s shoulders or hearing my sister’s screams from behind a locked bedroom door were familiar occurrences. Not that his behavior was limited to the walls of our house. The violence mostly took place at home, but these shocking scenes were occasionally played out at the homes of friends and relatives. Watching adults standing by without lifting a finger was almost as shocking as the violence. Such was the fear Dad struck into the hearts of others. People stood with gaping jaws, feebly attempting to reason with him, yet did nothing. Not even when the crime was committed on their own kitchen floor. Nobody intervened or phoned the police because nobody wanted to get on the wrong side of my father when he was in one of those moods. I suppose they were flabbergasted, as Mum would say.

Imagine skipping up your porch stairs one gorgeous spring day, bursting through the squeaky screen door, and racing into the kitchen to see what your mother’s doing. Full of smiles, joyful in the way only a four year old knows. Upon entering the kitchen, you see your mother kneeling on the floor, sobbing, head buried deep inside the oven. When asked what’s wrong, she replies she’s tired of living and wants to die. She had blown the pilot light out and turned the gas on high. This became known as taking the gas pipe and it would become a familiar expression around our house. Mum was always threatening to take the gas pipe. Her performance was quite theatrical, as any adult would instantly recognize. But the same scene played out before a child is far more convincing and traumatic. It’s an experience that strips children of their innocence. As adults, we’re able to comprehend at least some of the problems created by abusive family situations. As children, we can only do our best to absorb the insanity. Young children simply aren’t equipped to understand why Mum sticks her head in an oven or why Dad throws stones at his sister. Most of us can’t fully comprehend it as adults.

Perhaps even more disturbing than our parents’ behavior is the fact they weren’t drinkers. Neither was much of a social drinker, let alone alcoholics, and they rarely ever touched the stuff. There are no tales of drunkenness or drug abuse to explain away the beatings or feigned suicide attempts. Although drinking is no excuse for poor behavior, it would have at least provided a reason for some of the madness in our lives. Our parents would have been seen as alcohol impaired, at least partially, and not entirely responsible for their actions. It would almost be preferable to the alternate conclusion, which is to say they were mentally and emotionally disturbed. In today’s politically correct world, the word used to describe families like ours is dysfunctional. In the 50’s and 60’s only wealthy neurotics or those teetering on the edge of insanity would dream of seeking professional help. Therapy was almost unheard of, and psychiatrists were viewed as shrinks. Nor had anyone ever heard the word dysfunctional, at least in our neighborhood. Dysfunctional sounds more like a word used to describe an overheating refrigerator than it does a family. The term we used was screwed up and I’m giving you the polite version. It contains much less sugar coating and far more truth.

Painful childhood memories of abuse and dysfunctional families are a common theme for many addicts. While most children do their best to bury negative experiences while growing up, feelings of fear, insecurity, resentment and anger cannot be forgotten, no matter how hard we try. They haunt us wherever we go, even when we seem unaware that they exist. It’s little wonder so many of us later turn to alcohol (or drugs) as a form of escape. And it’s no surprise that we instantly fall in love with alcohol the first time we drink. All those memories of anguish we’ve carried inside seem to magically disappear, at least for the moment. It’s a moment every addict tries to re-live again and again. In the early stages, we become what addiction professionals refer to as a problem drinker. But the more we drink to escape problems, the more we become dependent on alcohol, both physically and emotionally. We eventually turn into full-blown alcoholics.

As part of learning to overcome addiction, we must learn to face demons of the past. At some point, each of us needs to embrace the child within ourselves and explain that none of the blame, guilt or shame was his or her fault. Assure the child inside you of his innocence, hold him, and let him know that he or she is loved. This one simple gesture plays a huge role in the healing process.

Dan Farish is a former alcoholic. Today, he works as an Addiction Recovery Coach helping others to beat addiction.

Dan is also the author of Three Steps to Recovery – One Man’s Triumph Over Alcohol and Drugs – A Simple Approach to Overcoming Any Addiction.

Read free book chapters at

The Monkey On My Back


Dan Farish

Most people have heard the term 'monkey on my back' used as a way to describe addiction. Personally, I find the word 'addiction' too soft a word to describe the monster every addict or alcoholic battles in daily life. It\'s too clinical, too sterile, and just doesn\'t pack the same punch as the monkey analogy.

As a hardcore alcoholic for more than half my life, I learned a few things about the monkey. First, he never knows when to keep his mouth shut. It\'s not that he\'s loud. In fact, it\'s quite the opposite. The monkey prefers to whisper, at least during the early stages of addiction. Day in, day out, he whispers in the addict\'s ear, reminding the addict that it\'s time to party. He whispers because he doesn\'t want others to hear him. 'They don\'t understand you the way I do', he whispers. 'I\'m your only true friend. It\'s you and me, brother. Besides, it\'s nobody\'s business but our own.'

The monkey is also persistent. He never, ever leaves the addict\'s side. He\'s always there to remind the addict that one drink or one puff never hurt anyone. Sure, he makes himself a little scarce when trouble arrives, but he\'s always watching from behind the scenes while the addict works things out. The monkey never leaves for long because he can\'t survive without the addict, although he never confesses the truth. Instead, he turns the tables, convincing his victim that he or she cannot live without him. The monkey is a cunning little devil.

For many years, I believed every word the monkey ever spoke. We\'d been through good and bad times together, shared countless late night conversations, and he\'d always understood me when no one else did. Or, so I thought. It wasn\'t until I tried to part ways with the monkey that things started to get ugly. He didn\'t like the idea. I tried to explain that my life was falling apart and something had to change. He just smiled and assured me everything would be okay, as long as we had each other. I protested, reminding him that things were far from okay. Exhaustion and alcohol were killing me, just as they had done to my sister, a favorite uncle, and two best friends. I let the monkey know he was getting pretty tiresome, too, and confided my plans to end our friendship.

But the monkey is also relentless. When I told the monkey about my plans to quit drinking, he became silent. Well, at least until I stopped drinking for a few days. Then he wrapped both legs around my back, tightened his grip around my neck, and started screaming in my ear. He had no intention of leaving. He\'d grown larger and more powerful over the years and there was no shaking him off, no matter how hard I tried. The more I fought, the tighter he held on. I was beginning to hate the monkey. Worse, he scared me to death. I spent the next three months trying to shake him off before entering rehab. The monkey decided to go with me and the battle of my life would soon begin.

The monkey is just a mental image, of course. The term is simply used to paint a picture of addiction, as seen through the addict\'s eyes. But the energy that drives every addict to abuse alcohol or drugs, even after they want to quit, is both very real and extremely powerful.

Dan Farish is a former alcoholic. Today, he works as an Addiction Recovery Coach helping others to overcome addiction. Dan is also the author of Three Steps to Recovery – One Man\'s Triumph Over Alcohol and Drugs – A Simple Approach Anyone Can Use to Overcome Any Addiction.

Read free book chapters at
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About the Author
Dan Farish was born in 1955 and raised in a working class Boston suburb, along with two sisters. Although his parents weren\'t drinkers, they excelled at raising problem children. By the time he left home at age 18, he was not only troubled, but well on his way to becoming a hardcore alcoholic. Twenty years later he checked into a rehab hospital, where he was voted 'most likely to fail' by his counselors and fellow addicts. Twenty-six days into a thirty-day program, he was ordered to leave.

Dan checked out of rehab with a suitcase in one hand and a tattered, coffee stained copy of A.A.\'s 12 Steps in the other. Several weeks later he experienced a profound, life changing experience, which erased a severe, two-decade substance abuse addiction overnight.

Today, Dan lives on Whidbey Island, Washington, where he works as an author and addiction recovery coach, helping others overcome their battle with addiction.

To learn more about Dan or to read free book chapters, please visit

Just about everyone in our society is addicted to something. Addictions can take many forms:

SUBSTANCE ADDICTIONS: addiction to alcohol, recreational drugs, prescription meds, caffeine, nicotine, food, sugar, carbohydrates.

PROCESS ADDICTIONS: addiction to love, connection, caretaking, anger, resistance, withdrawal, and to activities such as:

• TV
• Computer/internet
• Busyness
• Gossiping
• Sports
• Exercise
• Sleep
• Work
• Making money
• Spending money
• Gambling
• Sex, masturbation, pornography
• Shopping
• Accumulating things
• Worry
• Obsessive thinking (ruminating)
• Self-criticism
• Talking a lot
• Talking on the telephone a lot
• Reading
• Gathering information (if only I know enough I will feel safe)
• Meditation
• Religion
• Crime
• Danger
• Cutting themselves
• Glamour, beautifying

We can use anything as a way of avoiding feelings and avoiding taking responsibility for our painful feelings. Whenever we engage in an activity with the intention of avoiding our feelings, we are using that activity as an addiction. We can watch TV to relax and enjoy our favorite programs, or we can watch TV to avoid our feelings. We can meditate to connect with Spirit and center ourselves, or we can meditate to bliss out and avoid responsibility for our feelings. We can read to enjoy and learn, or read to escape. Anything can be an addiction, depending upon our intention.

For example, when your intention is to take loving care of yourself and your work is something you really enjoy, then working is not being used as an addiction. But when the intent is to get approval or avoid painful feelings, then work is being used as an addiction. The same is true for most of the above behaviors – they can be addictions or not, depending upon your intent.

All of us have a wounded part of us – our wounded self or ego self – that has been programmed with many false beliefs through our growing-up years. There are four common false beliefs that underlie most addictions:

1. I can’t handle my pain.
2. I am unworthy and unlovable.
3. Others are my source of love.
4. I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.


While this was true when we were small, it is not true as adults, yet many people operate as if it is true. When you believe that you are incapable of handling pain – especially the deep pain of loneliness and helplessness – then you will find many addictive ways to avoid feeling your pain. All of us are capable of learning how to manage painful feelings in ways that support our highest good, rather behaving in addictive ways that hurt us.

Anything you do to avoid taking responsibility for managing your pain is self-abandonment, which creates even more pain - the deep pain of aloneness. Whether you abandon yourself to substances, processes or people, your inner child – which is your feeling self - will feel abandoned by your choice to avoid responsibility for your feelings. If you had an actual child who was in pain, and you got drunk instead of being there for that child, he or she would be in even more pain from the abandonment. It is exactly the same on the inner level. Addictive behavior is an abandonment of self and causes the very pain you are trying to avoid.


When you did not receive the love you needed as a small child, you might have concluded that the reason you were not loved was because you were bad, flawed, defective, unworthy, unlovable, or unimportant. This is core shame – the false belief that there is essentially something wrong with you. When you adopt this belief, you become cut off from your Source, believing that you are unworthy of being loved by a Higher Power.


You will become addicted to attention, approval, love, sex, or connection when you believe that another person needs to be your dependable source of love. In this case, you will be abandoning your inner child to another person, which causes as much pain as abandoning yourself to a substance. Until you learn to tap into a Higher Power as your source of love, you will continue to be addicted to people as your source of love.


If you believe you can control others’ feelings and behavior, you will become addicted to various ways of trying to control, such as anger, judgment, blame, or people-pleasing. When you believe you can’t handle your pain and that others are your source of love, then you want control over getting that love. This is the cause of the codependency that underlies most relationship problems.

There is a way to heal from addictions. The rest of the articles in this series will address the process of recovery from addictions.