FINDING A WAY THROUGH ADDICTION

There are many ways of dealing with the distressing after-effects of childhood sexual abuse. One way is to become addicted. Being addicted to something means being out of control in your use of it. You can become addicted to many things:

Do you feel, or have you felt, out of control with any of these things? If your answer is yes, then you may be wondering, 'what's that got to do with being sexually abused as a boy?' Well, being abused is extremely painful. Such pain is hard to cope with. There may have been no one around to listen to your pain. Traditionally, men are supposed to be strong and to cope with anything. But you still have to find a way of coping and surviving. Some men turn to addictions. If this has happened to you try not to beat yourself up about it. It's important to understand that addictions serve many valuable short-term functions:

Under the 'influence' you might be more likely to get yourself into situations where you might get hurt, or hurt others. If your having thoughts of harming yourself you might be more likely to do it 'under the influence'. All these things are potentially dangerous. In addition, it's hard to begin your recovery whilst your in the grip of addiction. This is because recovery revolves expressing and feeling your feelings. This can be very hard and painful. The point of addiction is to try and blot out painful feelings. So, while you're addicted it's hard to get to your feelings.

What to do if you think you're addicted

Always remember that you did what you did to survive. Try to appreciate your great resourcefulness in surviving. Hold onto this thought if you feel guilty or ashamed about the ways you've coped.

Reducing Physical Tension

You may find that you feel tense a lot of the time. You may feel 'edgy' or 'jumpy'. Things may startle you easily. When you have time to yourself you may feel 'shaky and find yourself unable to relax.

This isn't that surprising. As a child you may have had the experience of feeling continuously scared. You may have been always on the look out for the abusers next move. Your body may have constantly expected danger to be just around the corner. When this happens in childhood the body becomes tense and learns to stay tense, even as an adult. After all, you may not have been given the opportunity to learn how to relax - it may simply not have been safe to let your guard down.

It's important to try and learn to relax now. This is because:

Remember that learning to reduce physical tension isn't easy and won't happen overnight. Some techniques suit some people and don't suit others. Experiment and find out what works for you.

Here are some suggestions:

There are many ways to reduce feelings of physical tension. Find which ones suit you best. You'll need to keep working at it but its worth it. After all your body and mind have had years of feeling tense - they deserve a rest!

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