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Addiction is no more of a spiritual problem than picking your nose. 

In fact, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that addiction was even considered a spiritual problem. 

Here’s why this matters for you: 

Having addictive tendencies or compulsive behaviors doesn’t mean you’re spiritually bankrupt. Instead, it means that your body and mind are working properly — but your limiting beliefs about addiction are holding you back. 

If you want to dismantle your limiting beliefs and quit your addictions for good then check out this episode. 

Show highlights include:

  • Scientific proof that addiction is no more real than Bigfoot (and how that empowers you to free yourself from addiction) (5:18) 
  • How beautiful spiritual breakthroughs can trick you into thinking you’ve handled your addictions when they’re still lurking in your subconscious (10:05) 
  • 2 things that always happen when your compulsive behaviors rear their ugly heads (11:43) 
  • The weird way scrolling through Facebook helps you overcome your addictive tendencies (15:27) 

If you want to radically change how much control you have over your emotions in as little as 20 days, you can go to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/feelbetternow and sign up for the Choose Your Own Emotion course. 

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/ and book a call where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

If you’d like to buy a copy of my book, Is That Even Possible?: The Nuts and Bolts of Energy Healing for the Curious, Wary, and Totally Bewildered, you can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/That-Even-Possible-Healing-Bewildered/dp/1512336041

Read Full Transcript

It's time to rip the cover off what really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the F-word here: Freedom. We'll share, straight from the trenches, what we have learned from leaving our own addictions behind, and coaching hundreds of others to do the same—and since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it. [00:27.6]

Bob: All right, welcome back folks. I have a question for you today. And this ones gonna go, we're going to challenge what people call sacred cows today, because I think it's really important to look for ourselves and understand some things. Is addiction, really a spiritual problem? Now this is probably a divisive topic because it's in common parlance, there's a lot of people that when they're dealing with addiction and addiction, recovery programs, they've found a lot of help and a lot of guidance and a lot of power and comfort by seeking out a higher power or a relationship to that, which is divine as a means of helping them find sobriety and hope and whatnot. So, I am not in this little talk we're going to have today and attempting to remove that from a person. What we want to do is we want to look at what addiction is purely and ask ourselves what's really going on because if it's a spiritual problem, we definitely want to address that from a spiritual side point. But if it's not, then we definitely don't want to sidestep it. It doesn't mean seeking a relationship to a higher power to finding a relationship with divinity is a bad enterprise. [01:41.5]

There are so many values and benefits for that. Whether you do it in a religious context or just a personally spiritual practice that you have, whichever way you go about it, that can be exceptionally powerful for a human life. The question we have before before us is whether or not that really has much to do with addiction. And so, in order to do this, we've talked some about the addiction myths in the very beginning of this podcast. If you haven't listened to those episodes, there's two parts to it. You can do that; it'll go into some of the history of it. I'll talk a little bit about that here briefly, but you can always go back and check that out. And we've got to look at where it came from and kind of what's going on with it. All right. And then we can kind of assess whether or not it's a spiritual issue. Now, how did this all start? [02:25.1]

The word addiction is funny, cause it kind of starts way back in ancient Rome. The word Addictus was actually the name of a mythological character, who was a slave who had been sold into slavery to a master and then who had been freed, but was so used to wearing his chains that he just carried them around with him wherever he went. So, in that first kind of Roman sense of things, we have this notion of a person who isn't chained, who isn't stuck, but still carries his chains around. Now the word addiction actually meant at that, at that time, you could be an addiction, which sounds weird to say in present English because we use it differently, but you could be an addiction. Meaning some things, some person who was sold into slavery or, or into servitude because of a legal judgment or something. So, if you were sold into servitude because of a legal judgment, you were an addiction. Later, addiction became the sort of the servitude itself or the slavery itself, whatever. [03:25.7]

And so, the notion was a very legal one about personal property. Now, so it didn't have any sense to do with a vice or a habit that a person had until much, much later on. And that's around the time of Shakespeare. Now Shakespeare pulls us in and he only introduced us maybe a couple of times, is this notion the word addict was used in other ways as well. And so, the term actually broken apart, etymologically just means to say yes to something. Dick, to like a dictation and add meaning towards so to speak towards something or to say yes to something. And so this went on like somebody Shakespeare's time on, we get this notion that, Oh yeah, this is a person that can be addicted to sugar plums and other stuff like in comments, speak nowadays where like, Oh, I'm so addicted to this, people use this term all the time. Then in the late, so it just meant like a choice or something that you just have to keep go doing. But it didn't mean anything like a disease or anything of that sort. [04:24.3]

Then in the late 1800’s, and this is stuff I've covered in some of the other episodes, late 1800’s, this theory of addiction shows up a theory of addiction, meaning, Hey, this person has something, has a something inside them that is making them do it. In other words, it's a theory of addiction as a disease. Now I want you to know this. This is the late 1800’s. What kind of instrumentation did we have to determine whether or not there was a disease out there? We didn't, all they were looking at is the behavior and they came up with a theory to try and explain the behavior. And then the way that science works is let's test the theory. Well, cool. So, they did some things to try and help out. A great marketer, kind of got this idea into the public sphere, say with alcoholism, saying alcoholism is a disease and I can cure you, which is a claim you can't make nowadays by, by the way, because the definition of addiction is by its very nature that it's not a curable thing. So that was also some change. [05:23.8]

Why would it that definition of change? Because their attempts to change, it didn't actually work. So, they had a theory, they used that theory to try and attempt to fix things. And then it didn't work very reliably. And so, they had to change the definition of this disease as something that basically you're going to be dealing with forever. So, this idea of addiction as something that you're stuck with for a long time showed up as a result of psychologists and psychiatrists and people who had a theory and were trying to test out a theory. 50 years later, some instrumentations around other kinds of experiments are set up to try and like figure out well, if it is a disease, let's isolate it in a lab. Let's find the molecule, let's find the offending particle. Let's figure out if it's a deformity of the brain or there's something else and other. They couldn't find any evidence for it or for chemical dependency. And they looked at this, not just with alcoholism, they looked at it with opioids and other types of drugs as well, they couldn't find it. [06:21.8]

And the researcher’s Torrance and Light who were, who were looking at this were so kind of embarrassed by the fact that they didn't find it, that they actually were quite apologetic in their defense of their research saying like, look, I know it seems like there really is something going on and anybody who's been there will say, no, those are real symptoms and this is really what's happening, but there is no evidence to it. They were, they had to be kind of defensive. Multiple research projects have borne this out over the years. And some of them have been rejected probably because of bad research. Others rejected because it did, it went against the narrative of the time. If you know anything about publishing stuff, there is as much politics in publishing science, scientific research as there is anywhere else. And not all scientists agree on hardly anything, you know, like there's always differing opinion or nuances to it, that change. And so, to say that science has proved that there is such a thing as addiction, especially with things like social sciences, where self-reporting is part of the issue and people notoriously lie when they're reporting what their symptoms are and stuff. [07:23.0]

Like some 90 plus percent of people from what I read at one point in time when self-reporting for their sobriety in recovery programs reported inaccurately what was going on because they got a public hit, right? They got congratulations for reporting sobriety, even though their blood alcohol levels showed a different situation. And so like, there's that problem in social sciences, so how much we can trust about it, we don't know. But there basically has never been any evidence that it's a disease or that chemical dependency exists. And yet we were, we went on with the theory that it was because science has dog-eared and they want to be thorough and figure things out and so they're testing things out, right. In the middle of this morass of, Oh, it's a disease and you're stuck with it forever and whatnot. That's public consciousness in the middle of this Bill W starts up the 12-step programs, right. And originally from what I've read and heard from other people who are constantly trying to educate me about it, and I've been to 12-step programs, myself, a couple of different ones, different kinds, the you know, he, there was originally only six steps. [08:30.0]

Now, Bill W had some incredible experiences that helped him with his addictive behaviors, including using psychedelic substances like LSD when writing the program, he also used a ouija board to write it. Whether you agree with those are known, like he was channeling, he was doing things like this and he was putting this together and at one point he wanted to introduce psychedelics into the 12-step programs because of how powerful they had been for him. But the, the population at the time didn't want it right. Instead, they were very, very much attached to this idea that’s addiction was itself, a spiritual problem that was a result of the flaws of the, of the person who had the addiction, which is what the 12-step program now, as it stands, bears out. That it's your character flaws that are the problem. And that you have to go to a higher power to have your character flaws removed in order to find some level of semblance of control over this and sobriety and still, you're going to need to be going to these meetings for the rest of your life, because that's how you maintain sobriety. [09:31.0]

Meaning it's not something that can be maintained unless you're doing it. So essentially, you'll still be dealing with it the rest of your life. Again, if you love 12 step programs, that's awesome. That's amazing if they're working for you, awesome, keep working them. I am just delineating here, the history of where this idea showed up. In other words, the notion that addiction is a spiritual problem became popularized in the 1900’s. Prior to that in human history, it hadn't been seen as that. The word addiction does not appear in the King James Bible at all. So as far as I know, Jesus, didn't talk about it. So, when we're using terms like vice or sin, we just lump this into it. But there's no sense that that was what was being considered or talked about or anything of that nature. Could have been, could have been totally, could have been, but it's not in there. So, the notion that addiction is a spiritual problem is a modern idea. And one that has touched so deeply people because they have these beautiful spiritual experiences and that feels to them like it's handling the addiction issue when it's not. [10:32.2]

Addiction is something that can get in the way of you having spiritual experiences, for sure. It can, it's something that can get in the way of you having a fulfilling life, for sure. And as such, it can contribute to spiritual struggles and having a really amazing spiritual life can be something that makes your life more fulfilling and more incredible. And in that vein, it can also reduce the amount of problems you have with addiction because you're, you're living a happier life, which means you're not seeking something to cope with it. But ultimately what comes down, what it comes down to at the bottom of it is this. A human being is feeling negative, there's some negative feeling inside their system and people are like, no, but I had a good day and then I went back to addiction. If you look really closely to it, it was not in the middle of your happiness, in the middle of your excitement, in the middle of your joy that you went to your compulsive behavior. [11:27.0]

It was, you could have had an amazing day and then in a moment, dip your body goes to a negative space. And it's like, Oh, I want to feel better than this. And so, then your brain's like, well, what have we done that field that helps us change this chemical state and this feeling inside ourselves. And if the behavior that you're used to going to is available, accessible or whatnot, it'll pop up as a menu item. Like we talked about last week, the nostalgia will bring it up. So, what's happening is not that you have a spiritual problem. If you find yourself compulsively doing things, it's not because you're spiritually bankrupt. It's because inside there's a couple things happening. One there's a certain level of unhappiness that has showed up in your life. It could be chronic, meaning you've always felt like you're not good enough or whatnot, or it could be just momentary and temporary, like in a moment, Oh, I'm never going to get this done. Then my future is going to be bad and you're having big problems happening. [12:22.6]

So, there's a certain amount of unhappiness or ill at ease or dis-ease that shows up in your system in that sense, addiction could be considered a disease, disease like dis-ease. And then you have nostalgia or memories that we talked about last week that have associated certain behaviors with getting you out of that sense of being ill at ease, at least temporarily. In other words, your body and mind are working as they have been designed in order to help you have the most fulfilling most positive experience of life that you could possibly have. There's nothing wrong with you. If you have compulsive behaviors doesn't mean you have wanted to keep them, but it doesn't mean that there's something existentially or spiritually wrong with you. It actually means that your mind and body are working the way they're designed to try and help you get a really positive experience of life. And just that certain associations in your mind or beliefs you have about yourself and your life and certain behaviors, because they feel true are controlling the way that you act. [13:25.1]

And the way out of it is to dismantle those beliefs and then to retrain your mind and body to start to produce different like happiness by default and automatically. And that's it. If you dismantle those associations, you have with the kind of unhappiness that shown up or with the behavior itself, and then you retrain your body and mind in stressful situations or unhappy situations to have a different way of handling them so that it produces a better feeling inside you automatically, then addiction goes away. That doesn't mean that you're a spiritually better person because addiction went away or these compulsive behaviors went away. It just means that you've learned how your mind and body worked, and you've trained them to behave differently, to behave in a way that produces happiness and joy inside of you so that you don't need to cope with your life. [14:16.8]

If you or someone you know is looking to drop the F-bomb of “Freedom” in their life, whether that's from past trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other host of emotional and personal struggles, but they just don't know how or wants some help doing it. Head on over to thefreedomspecialist.com/feelbetternow and check out some of the things we've got in store for you or book a call so we can look at your unique situation and get you the help that you're looking for. [14:44.7]

You have to remember addiction or the compulsive behaviors, those are the solutions that you and I have come to in order to solve the basic issue of I'm bored or I'm stressed, or I'm angry, or I'm lonely, or I'm not good enough, or nothing's ever going to work out for me, or life is hard, or people don't like me or I'm new and in a new relationship environment and I don't know what's going on, or I don't know who I am anymore. I don't know what I want to do with my life. Or everybody wants me to be different. All of these little ideas that feel like they're true about life or about us, those are on the inside. And because they feel true, our brains like, well, let's, let's cope with this. And the addictive behaviors we have, those are the solutions that we have discovered to date for it. They may not be the best solutions, but they've helped you and I survive until now, right? [15:41.5]

Scrolling through Facebook may not be the best solution for giving you a fulfilling life, but it's at least helped you cope or given you a couple of laughs or some fulfillment or something to do at the moment. So, it has produced something that's helped you survive until now until the point where you can see something bigger. Does that make sense? So, we stay, take a step back and we just recap for a second. Throughout all of history, addiction has never been, I, like has never been linked to and associated with a spiritual bankruptcy or decrepitude until most recently in the 1900’s. Only then did it become looked at in late 1800s, early 1900s only then did it become looked at as a spiritual issue that needs a spiritual solution. That doesn't mean beforehand people didn't think that, but in terms of commonly accepted ideas, this notion of it being some spiritual problem, addiction is a very, very recent phenomenon. And it doesn't mean people didn't talk about vice and like, you know, moral depravity or stuff in some other types of in some other venues that they're not looking at as, as addiction in those cases, either they're looking at it as a moral bankruptcy problem. [16:52.0]

And again, we could look at that as well, but ultimately what's going on. It's not that there's something wrong with you spiritually. It's not that your mind and body don't work or that you have a disease. They are working perfectly to help you have better experiences of life based on your life experience, the raw material of your experience, the associations you've made and the skills you've developed, that's it. So, you're great, there's nothing wrong with you. There is however, an opportunity to improve your experience of life and your circumstances. That doesn't mean that it's improving your soul or your character, or that there's something flawed about your character that needs to change. It simply means that if you learn how to work this mind and body, the way that it's designed, then the way that it's designed will start to produce more happiness and you will have less compulsive behavior around things. That's it. [17:41.9]

So, let's talk about this from a spiritual angle then. A lot of people, they, because they are like, I had a guy on the phone the other day and he's, you know, he's had a horrid childhood and he's developed certain associations with behaviors like pornography and whatnot that have been and masturbation and whatnot that have been a way that he has coped with his negative feeling and all the stuff that's happened to him in this massive amount of trauma in the past. And he was so worried about like an addiction program, taking him away or recovery program, like the stuff that we do taking him away from his walk with Jesus Christ, because he, he really feels like that is the most important thing in his life. And it's very fulfilling for him. And he doesn't want any addiction program to take, take that away, but that's because he's seeing programs as having to necessarily be a spiritual journey, so to speak. And so, he's trying to assess what I'm saying in light of his faith. And it was only when he asked himself the question, well, if I had cancer, would I go to a Muslim doctor that he stopped himself up short and was like, well, yes, of course I would. I would do whatever I could in order to change my circumstance. But that doesn't mean it would change my faith. [18:51.2]

And I think that that's a really, really important, and I think it was brilliant on his part to come up with that question for himself, right. What's going on is a mind and body issue. It is not a spiritual thing. It can definitely give you more opportunities to have spiritual experiences. But what I've seen with the work we do is that we've worked with Jews and Muslims and lots of different Christians, as well as atheists and people who were from like Hindu and other types of spiritual traditions and stuff like that. A bunch of different religions, a bunch of different backgrounds, bunch of different cultural history, and they've had tremendous results and a great many of them have gone on to have a better experience of their faith because they just figured out how to work their mind and body. So, let's take a step back and let's look at it from just a general spiritual perspective. [19:38.7]

If the creator of this universe, however you think about that creator, whether you call it God or Jesus, or whether you call it Allah, or whether you call it Shiva or Brahma or, or any number of other things, or whether you believe it's just the universe or a grand intelligence or life, if that creator designed the human system to work in a certain way, then studying the way that, that mind and body work on a practical day-to-day level is studying the will of that creator. Whether or not you reading books of scripture or not, you're studying the will of the creator by studying the thing the creator made and how it functions. And then if you learn to work with it, as it functions the way it's designed, then you're doing the will of that creator. What does that mean? [20:27.5]

Think about a USB stick. I can take a USB stick and I can stir my hot chocolate with it. I can chuck it across the room and wake up my brother with it. I can like use it as a paperweight. I can use it as a key chain. I can use it for all kinds of different things and there they can be incredible experiences, but that's not what it's designed for. It's designed to work in a certain way and when I work with it in that way, whole new worlds of possibilities open up, don't they? Same with the human body and probably even more so with the human body and mind. When you learn how to practically work with them in the way that they are designed, a whole new experience of life can show up and you are doing the will of the creator. And if your religion or your spiritual tradition is true, then it has to include the truth about how your mind and body work, which means it's not at odds with your religion. It just might be that you haven't figured out how it fits in yet and that's okay. It's not like the Bible is a manual on how nerves function or things like that. Though I have since seen many, many statements inside of those volumes of scripture that to me indicate clearly that someone understood certain things about the body and mind and about how they function. [21:35.8]

So, I think it's in there, but it's hard to see it if you haven't experienced it for yourself. So, as we boil down this conversation, is addiction a spiritual problem? Is it really a spiritual problem? On one hand, I will say, if you're going to say everything is a spiritual issue in this life, and this whole life is a spiritual experience, then yes. But then also picking your nose as a spiritual problem and paper cuts are a spiritual problem and all that other stuff. And you're still not going to necessarily turn it into a big spiritual program in order to solve picking your nose or, you know, putting a band aid on a paper cut. Right. But if we're looking at it from practical terms, just practically, what's going on. If we're going to say that, okay. Yeah, all of life is a spiritual experience, but there are physical things and mental things and stuff like that, then what's going on is that addiction itself is simply your mind and body working as designed with certain nostalgias and certain associations that you have about yourself in life. [22:29.9]

When you handle those, what we call core issues or turbos sometimes, or things like that, different terminology, whatever you want to call them, limiting beliefs. When you dismantle those in the way that makes it so that they don't come back and you dismantle the associations again, same way, not difficult, but it takes a little bit of finesse. When you can do that, then there's nothing left to cope with. And then the menu item doesn't show up. And then when you train your mind and body to respond to life's experiences differently so that they don't produce stress the same way, or they don't produce boredom, or they don't produce loneliness or hatred. So, you train your system to actually automatically produce a different experience than what we call addiction just goes away. The compulsivity toward those behaviors goes away because you work with your mind and body the way they were designed. So, from my perspective, addiction is not a spiritual problem. It's just something going on because of an unfortunate set of associations and whatnot. And that is easy to turn around if you're willing to do the work. [23:31.6]

If you would like help with that, schedule a call with us, let's get on the phone and let's talk and let's work through some things, especially if you're dealing with porn and sex addiction, especially if you're dealing with behavioral addictions, like food stuff, even gambling, things like that. Opioids, you know, we've helped a lot of people with a lot of different things, but even depression, even anxiety. These are things that your body and mind have learned. They're learned responses to life, and those can turn around to when you just understand how the mind and body work, and you start to work with them as designed in order to produce a different effect automatically. It's possible, I've seen it happen hundreds of times. So instead of sitting here, beating yourself up, thinking that you have some spiritual problem or that there's something wrong with you, or that you're a depraved soul acknowledge the fact that there's nothing wrong with you, that your mind and body are working perfectly and that the only thing needed is to upgrade the software. [24:24.4]

And that's it for todays “Alive and Free Podcast.” If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom bombs landing in your ear buds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcasts from. And, while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you. Plus, it's just nice to be nice. [24:42.2]

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