What Is Addiction?

You might be asking yourself, "What Is Addiction?" When we say the word “addiction” is can mean many things to different people. On one side, we may make a passing comment about being a coffee addict. Yet, for others—the word addiction” could bring up life-altering impact for either themselves or someone they care for.

While the brain’s dopamine reward cycle is in effect no matter the substance or behavior—certain addictions have various degrees of consequences to the user or their loved ones, based off of what type it is.

I welcome you to view this 2 minute animation which describes the dopamine reward cycle of the brain which leads to addiction. The Science Of Addiction ByLife Noggin”

Or, for a more scholarly approach, visit Harvard Health’s article on “How Addiction Hijacks The Brain.”

It is important for us to recognize the root meaning of the word “addiction” is to mean “enslaved to.” No matter the substance or behavior—addiction removes power from an individual and shifts it towards that substance or behavior. In essence, someone loses not only a sense of their own control—but also their own identity.

But I dare to believe that our identity is more than any addiction or behavior. As we seek to make the shift away from the incomplete story of addiction and into truth—we have an ability to reclaim our narrative.

The Camino Recovery center 1 names the top 10 addictions of modern society as:

  • Coffee

  • Tobacco & Nicotine

  • Alcohol

  • Sex Addiction

  • Illegal Or Prescription Drugs

  • Gambling

  • The Internet & Modern Technology

  • Video Games

  • Food

  • Work 1

Since it is an extensive list, for the purposes of our materials, our team will focus on two areas of addiction:

  • Substance use

  • Pornography or sex addiction

This does not mean other forms of addiction are not important; only we have chosen to focus on these areas first and hope to build more content in the future.

If you, or someone you care for, are fighting to change your narrative away from addiction and into wholeness—we welcome you to journey with us.

What Is Addiction?

How Many Individuals Struggle With Addiction?

To answer this question, we are going to break it up per type.

Substance Abuse

  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017. 2

  • In 2017, 8.5 million American adults suffered from both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorders.2

  • In 2017, approximately 4% of the American adolescent population age 12 to 17 suffered from a substance use disorder; this equals 992,000 teens or 1 in 25 people in this age group. 2

  • About 5.1 million young adults age 18 to 25 battled a substance use disorder in 2017, which equates to 14.8% of this population and about 1 in 7 people.2

Pornography Addiction

  • 40 million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites. 3

  • 1 in 3 porn viewers are women.3

  • 25% of all search engine requests are pornographic.3

  • The average age of first exposure to Internet porn is 11. 4

A Word About Changing The Narrative Of Addiction

Before we dive deep into the concept of shifting a story affected by addiction, I want to recognize the fact addiction is a deeply embedded habit and the process of recovery is rarely quick.

In matters related to addiction, the neural make up of a brain has been changed by repeated behaviors or substances. This takes time to modify. Often, recovery has greatest success when paired with professional care. Sharing all of this, however, does not mean there is not hope. I simply want to set healthy expectations in the beginning. With that, I want to share one more thing.

Just because the process may be long, does not mean you are not succeeding. Though we say, “change your narrative” the truth is, it is worth celebrating every moment of changing. This may mean thousands of micro-wins throughout the journey. And my team and I celebrate you in each and every one of those moments.

Remember, your identity is not your addiction. Your value is not tied to action. You are worth so much more.

A Word About Addiction - The Video Discussion

Guilt Versus Shame

I want to take a moment to share something personal. I believe that both guilt and shame can be triggers for negative head space and dark thoughts. Because of this, it is important for me to share how I see guilt and shame, and how we can work though them.

Guilt is the aftermath of an action. It can be healthy—as it lets us know what we did was wrong. Shame, on the other hand, is the cruel rebranding of our identity. It suggests that because of an action—we are somehow a different person. It seeks to stake a claim on who we are.

Guilt can be healthy. Our words, actions, and behaviors have consequences. Guilt helps us to take ownership, learn, and grow. Shame, however, doesn’t offer a solution. It just grips our thoughts & emotions in a vice.

How do we escape the trap of shame? I want to continue this critical conversation in the video below.

Guilt Versus Shame - The Video Discussion

Is It Okay To Talk About Addiction?

The fact you are asking, is a positive thing. The short answer, is “Yes.” And with that, I would also add it is important to find the right place to talk about it. This is not a matter of shame or an indication that your story is not worth listening to. Instead, what I want for you is for you to have every possible option of being heard as you share such an important part of your thoughts and feelings.

Because of this, I want to take the next few pages and talk about how to share, who to share with, and small steps you can take as you work towards discussing the matter with someone who can help you take healthy, positive action.

As always, however, if you are in danger or harm, be sure to consult with a professional immediately; or call 911.

Ways to reach out:

  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline1-800-662-HELP

  • 1-844-289-0879

  • Addiction Center (855) 907-0761

  • Youth Crisis Line – 1800 Hit Home

  • Hopeline 1800-442-5673


How To Talk About Addiction

It can be scary to think about opening up and explaining about actions or behaviors. But, your story is worth sharing. Since the conversation is important, there are a few things you can do which will help it to be heard.

Prepare For The Conversation

If you have the ability to, jot down a few bullet points—things you are thinking and feeling. It is okay to have those with you when you share. It can help you keep going and know what to say next.

Give A Heads Up

You do not have to immediately come out with your most vulnerable thoughts and feelings first. In important conversations it can be helpful to frame what you want to share by saying things like, “I need to talk about something important, that might be difficult for me to say.” or “I want to share something but I am afraid you won’t understand—would you be willing to listen?”

Be Clear

It is vital for you to be extremely clear on the extent of your thoughts and feelings.

Take One Healthy Action Step

Opening up about what you are thinking and feeling is the first step. If someone responds positively to you, ask them if you can take an action step together. This might mean talking to a loved one, finding professional guidance, calling a hotline together, or a range of other ways to seek wholeness.

The goal is to leave a conversation with a clear understanding of what you are going through, what your thoughts and feelings are and have been, and what healthy, next steps can be taken.

What To Share About Addiction

Just like the question, “When is it good to share?” you might wonder exactly what to share. When there is a lot going on inside of the head and heart, it can feel overwhelming to decide what to talk about.

Just as in the “When To Share” video, I have a full conversation which discusses “What to share?” below. But for starters, let’s consider a few key points. It is good to share:

  • What you think and feel right now.

  • What you have thought and felt recently.

  • What actions and behaviors you are enaged in.

  • What the source might be.

  • What you would like to do next.

What To Share? - Video Discussion

The Obstacles In Seeking Help

It is fair to talk about the obstacles along the path, so we are not surprised by them. If you have faced one or all of the following—know that I hear you and I see you. I acknowledge the fact these moments can create tremendous setback or make it difficult to want to continue to fight for your wholeness. I can only hope you know you are not alone in that battle—and it is worth it to continue to fight on.

  • Help Seems Hopeless

  • A Question Of Worth

  • Lack Of Energy

  • Disappointing Attempts

For a more in-depth discussion about these points, including guidance on how to overcome them, check out the video below.

The Obstacles In Seeking Help - Video Discussion

Your Identity Goes Beyond The Struggle

In the core of who I am—I am convinced we are not defined by our struggles. Our identity goes far beyond what anyone stole from us, did to us, or how they disappointed us.

While it may be true you have faced a deep struggle or have been treated in ways you did not deserve, I believe this does not have to be the key identifier of what makes you—you.

Wholeness is still available. Though it requires a journey, it’s a pathway to be free of pain’s influences—as if it was the only thing to define your life. I believe you still have life in front of you and it is filled with the ability for hope, the ability to make a difference in other’s lives, and the ability to go out there and have positive and meaningful impact.

Your Identity Goes Beyond The Struggle- Video

How Change Your Narrative Can Offer Support

It takes courage to begin a journey to seek wholeness. Though many of us will face individual struggles in our own life—there are some struggles which feel as if they have the power to take the pen and write our future.

But you are the author—not any pain, brokenness, or hurt of your past and present.

The goal of Change Your Narrative is to create an environment of support along with hosting resources and tools which guide you towards wholeness.

One thought constantly pushes me towards the future. I would ask you the same question:

What if tomorrow was stronger than yesterday?

We are rooting for you, not only once you complete your journey, but every step through it.

If you are looking for a guide to help you process your story and walk a journey of wholeness - we would love to partner with you in the Addiction Matters - Change Your Narrative Video Mentorship Guide.

Check out a sneak peak here:

Apps Which Offer Support

Pear reSET offers a 12-week program schedule complete with weekly check-ins and guided lessons.

Sober Grid offers user engagement with a recovery community, daily tasks to engage the mind, a way to track triggers and an online journal

Nomo – Sobriety Clocks tracks personal victories of sobriety and allows you to share that moment of victory with an accountability partner or group, thus creating a sense of community.

SoberTool offers daily inspirational messages and reminders. Key component includes guided questions if the user marks feeling a relapse coming on.

WEconnect offers sobriety and recovery reminders such as calling a sponsor, attending a group meeting, or self care. Allows both recovering addicts and sponsors to interact via reminders to reach out to each other.

rTribe – Quit Porn/Drug/Food Addiction allows to you track the times of day when behaviors or substances are most appealing. Targets a plan around these triggers.

TalkLife offers online support similar to group therapy. Share anonymously or with your name.

Self-Help For Anxiety Management (SAM) offers an anxiety toolkit which tracks thoughts and behaviors, while also offering tools to combat negativity.

Communities Which Offer Support

Addiction Center Support Groups

  • Provides 24/7 access to support via hotline and pop-up chat options, which were present at the time of this writing. A library of resources available on their support page.

Smart Recovery

  • Offers a vast community of forum support.

Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration

  • Website states they offer “free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

The Tribe Wellness Community

  • A subscription-based service of peer-to-peer support for individuals and their families.

To Write Love On Her Arms -

  • Offers a search for free or low cost therapy options to connect with a therapist.

Lifeline Crisis Chat -

  • Offers free, online chatting with trained individuals.

What Is Sex Addiction & What Recovery Options Are Available?

  • Provides an honest discussion about driving factors of addiction and what help is available, including online support groups.

Sex Addiction Treatment

  • The American Addiction Centers offers a data heavy article on addiction facts—including what addiction is and isn’t. As of this printing, website also offered a chat feature pop up that reached out for those seeking support.

American Addiction Centers

  • Provides educational insight and treatment options.

The Recovery Village

  • Offers therapy options for individuals and their loved ones.

Project Know

  • Offers insight into a 12-step process. A pop-up box offering chat guidance was available at the time of this writing.

Resources for Parents

Navigating Porn Addiction – A Guide For Parents

Teenagers And Pornography Addiction: A Silent Epidemic

  • The American Counseling Association provides research from a clinical background.

Parents Of Teens Help Guide

A Plan For Discussing How To Avoid Porn

  • One parent and therapists plan of action for discussing important topics.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures

  • Age appropriate children’s books which teach pre-pubescent children (versions available for children 3-7 years old and 7-11 years old) how to safeguard themselves from pornographic images.

How To Recognize A Substance Abuse Disorder

  • Insight into recognizing where you, or someone you care for, may be at and how to find treatment options.

Substance Abuse Guide For Teenagers

  • Offers a wealth of age appropriate knowledge and links for family members.

Substance Abuse Support For Families

How To Recognize A Substance Abuse Disorder

  • Insight into recognizing where you, or someone you care for, may be at and how to find treatment options.

Substance Abuse Guide For Teenagers

Substance Abuse Guide For Your Adult Loved One

  • Both guides offers a wealth of age appropriate knowledge and links for family members.

Substance Abuse Treatment Booklet For Families