You have heard the jokes. Shopping addiction, chocolate addiction, TV and shoes too. They are jokes, until they are not.
In the new book, “Out of the Woods” I write about our tendency to transfer addictions—moving back and forth between drugs, food, alcohol and also about the “soft addictions” and “process addictions”, things like too much TV, binge TV, Internet, shopping and even work and worry.
We come to understand that addiction is really in the person and not in the substance. We also learn that while it’s true that shopping may not kill us and we can joke about being addicted to the games on our phone, we also know that avoiding our feelings is an early sign that we are sliding to the place that means trouble.
This is why I know that I need ongoing discernment with other people in recovery: the process addictions are often things that have very good qualities. Exercise is a good example: We get in shape, we get a good habit of running or going to the gym, but what happens when we miss a day or can’t work out? Are we in a bad mood? Are we afraid? I’ve been there with exercise.
Similarly with shopping: Who doesn’t want to look nice? But do we obsess? Spend money we don’t have? Wander the mall in a trance? I’ve done that too.
That old joke from early recovery turns out to be true: “The only thing you have to change is everything.” Marion Woodman, Jungian analyst and teacher said, “The natural gradient in us is toward growth. Whatever we use repeatedly and compulsively to stop that growth is our particular addiction.”
In “Out of the Woods” I included a chapter on “Facing Other Addictions” –it’s all part of what we’ll encounter as recovery progresses. It’s a lot of fun and it’s deadly serious.