By Amy Levinson, MA, LASAC, CSAT Candidate
Evening/Weekend Therapist at Gentle Path at The Meadows
Suicide…the ultimate ‘unmanageability’ of untreated addiction and depression. All addictions reside in the same place in the brain—the limbic system—and all are related to dysfunction in the pleasure-reward pathway. This older part of our brain keeps us alive; it’s all about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The pleasure, reward process is what an addiction tries to do; however, it never works ultimately.
For individuals in the throes of untreated co-occurring addiction and mental illness, the survival instinct goes awry; seeking pleasure turns to doing whatever it takes to avoid pain—even if it means the unimaginable, the ending of one’s life. The result of all addictions is a severing of the neural networks to the frontal cortex; that which makes us human, where logic, reason, judgment, creativity and spirituality live. The place in our brain where we are open-minded and willing to utilize recovery tools, people, fellowships, relationships, community, and faith to avoid pain.
As a recovering sex addict, I used to call my unmanageability ‘the black hole of doom.’ It awaited me around every corner. I experienced this anxiety as a tight ball in the pit of my stomach that never left me. I would do anything to not ‘feel’ it and my ‘acting out’ served that very function…until it didn’t, and my life became completely unmanageable.
Dr. Patrick Carnes frames the unmanageability of addiction as “experiencing severe consequences due to sexual behavior and an inability to stop despite these adverse consequences.” In Dr. Carnes’ book, Don’t Call It Love, 1991, he states that 72% of sex addicts reported suicidal obsession and 17% attempted suicide.
The function of all addictions is to mood-alter away from this black hole. The end game of untreated addiction and depression is that dark place where no amount of mood-altering will fill that black hole. A fatal disease, addiction…if left untreated.
Here at Gentle Path at The Meadows, we call this black hole ‘trauma,’ or anything that was ‘less than nurturing’ that you experienced growing up. We treat the root cause, the symptoms, and the unmanageability at the same time. You are supported with acceptance, warmth and assistance in dealing with your core beliefs that spring out of this trauma. You are educated, challenged and given the opportunity, the tools and the ability to change your perspective, thinking and ultimately your actions. As a result, that black pit of doom is dispelled; it cannot stand up to the light of day. Recovery is a gift you give yourself…the gift of life over death.
Those suffering do not have to die and neither do you.