Are You Addicted to Chaos?

One might expect people who are recovering from addiction to embrace their newfound peace and stability, yet therapists often find that patients resist letting go of the chaos and dysfunction that was part of their lives during their active addiction. Addiction is often just the tip of the iceberg of a person’s life; it tends to hide many layers of unresolved conflict and trauma. Moreover, addiction serves as a maladaptive tool to manage anxiety that derives from unresolved dysfunction. When addicts first become sober, they are often called upon to face a much larger ‘iceberg’ than they imagined, and can feel a gravitational pull towards tension filled situations, as a way to manage their anxiety.

Lesson learned in early life

Many an addict has been raised in a home that is filled with yelling, screaming and poorly resolved anger; there, they learn destructive patterns they rely on when they are faced with problems. Continuous chaos becomes ‘normalized’ in this type of home, and a person growing up in this environment learns to ‘control the chaos’ so that it becomes manageable. Thus, when the chaos is gone, they can feel incredibly uncomfortable and lost; they no longer know how to manage their lives, and will seek out chaos where it does not exist.

Can chaos be addictive?

Chaos can be addictive when it begins to impact a person’s daily functioning. If they are so consumed by engagement in a type of behavior that affects their ability to function, eat, sleep and have meaningful relationships with others, it can mean that they are addicted to chaos, in the same way someone else might be addicted to alcohol, or to spending.

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How to manage an addiction to chaos?

If you think you might be addicted to chaos, a good place to start is by seeking professional help. A therapist will enable you to recognize behavioral patterns which are standing in the way of your happiness and wellbeing, and teach you new ways to deal with anxiety and stress, as well as handy conflict resolution skills. For recovering addicts, a therapist will also help them manage the newfound anxiety that comes with a calm drug-free lifestyle. As time goes by, you will earn to identify the factors that cause chaos in your life: the different environments, people, and situations that tend to provoke stress. You will learn how to change the way you deal with these triggers, and to identify any potential ‘relapses’ you may have (for instance, if you find yourself picking a fight with a loved one, chances are, you are using confrontation as an outlet for the anxiety you are feeling). Finally, you will have to learn to set boundaries so that you don’t allow anybody else to destroy your piece of mind with their negativity. If someone tries to share yet another story with you about an interpersonal conflict they are having, redirect or leave the conversation. Remember that this is all about your long-term health and wellbeing.

Author: Laura Philpott