The blog is intended to share some of the research and collective experiences of those of us who have come to recognize anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, food addiction, compulsive overeating as variants of the same "tyrant"-namely addiction. Equally important is defining the solution once we've come to recognize the real problem.

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The Shame of It All....

Posted by on in Food Addiction
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Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in the individual pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. The addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships. Like other chronic diseases, addiction involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

So, let's take an honest look at a couple of "feelings" or "belief's" most of us harbor. Despite giving "lip service" to the notion that an addiction  [including food addiction, eating disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, compulsive gambling, etc.] is a disease, many of us carry a good bit of shame and attach a stigma to being "addicts in recovery." Just what is shame and how do one understand the concept of stigma? Well lets look at the basics.

Stigma is defined as "a mark of disgrace or infamy: a stain or reproach, on one's reputation. (Wikipedia). Also defined as a physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease: the stigma of leprosy."

Shame is defined as "the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another." Hmmm.

I would suggest that a good dose of regret about our use and abuse of a substance or compulsive behavior(s) might be justified. However, in light of the true definition of addiction, "placing ourselves on the cross" and carrying it around with us, is a product of our disease and NOT of our recovery. Truth be known, if we admit we are "powerless," then the notion of being stigmatized or shamed is our own doing. Creating a "new history" in recovery may take a little time. The net effect, however, is by doing so and staying clean and sober, we will surely get to a place where being "a recovering (you fill in the blank) becomes a source of pride rather than shame.

Where are you at this point in your journey?


Tagged in: addiction stigma
Licensed psychologist and an active participant within the recovering community, living in South Florida with my wife, Michele, two daughters,Janelle and Danielle, and our dog [Golden-Doodle] Reggie for the past 25 years. Founder and executive director at Milestones In Recovery, a residential and outpatient program treating eating disorders.

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