The Purpose of Addiction

The Purpose of Addiction

If you do not struggle with an addiction this post will hopefully help you understand, at least a little better, what purpose an addiction serves in someone’s world. If you do struggle with addiction, this post will hopefully help clarify some things and open a path to change.

Rarely does it start out that the addiction, or rather the benefit we get from addictive behaviors and substances, is the reason for our behaviors. A person struggling with pornography addiction does not start out looking for naked bodies. It might seem that way, but it is probably for other reasons, such as to cure boredom, to feel alive, to satiate curiosity, etc. Often, in fact, the addictive behaviors are something that the person is drawn to for reasons they cannot clearly articulate – this is especially true with sex and pornography addictions.

OK, so what’s the purpose of the addiction? Well, it’s a little complicated, but let’s try to make sense of it…

If, for example, what I really want in life is to feel like I belong or that I’m worthy, I find my way into a sexual encounter or fantasy and, for a short time, I feel important. I might feel something that passes for love, I might even feel worthy or good enough. But, the feelings are fleeting, especially if the relationship is not a relationship but just a sexual encounter. (Think of one-night-stands that are filled with “passion” but never turn into a second date.)

So now I have a way to meet my need or my purpose – to feel like I belong. I know it’s only a fleeting feeling, but I did feel it. I try again and again to get the feeling and each time I engage in sexually addictive behaviors I feel what I’m searching for. But then it disappears. Often the addict gets caught in a trap of unconsciously believing that the next time will be the time that the feeling will last. Of course, it does not so the addict continues to search…

This same pattern plays out with pornography addiction except instead of getting needs met with another, they seem to be met in a fantasy – the addict imagines themselves being with the person and that gives them a sense of belonging.

NOTE: Not all addictions are to meet a need of belonging or feeling good enough or important. The reasons are as varied as the individual.

What tends to be consistent is that the addictive behaviors fill a void in the short term (even if only an escape) and the person with an addiction is trapped or fooled into thinking that one day, at some point, the addiction will actually deliver on whatever the person is searching for.

About the Author:

Dan Gabbert holds a Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology from Avila University in Kansas City, MO. Dan is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Certified Sex Addictions Therapist (CSAT), a rigorous certification issued by The International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP).