REASONS WHY WE DRINK: The Body Keeps The Score, Introduction

What causes alcoholism and drug addiction?

In trying to understand what causes alcoholism, my Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprogramming (EMDR) therapist recommended that I read The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. My reserve hold e-copy of this extremely popular New York Times bestseller finally became available after six weeks of waiting. This is what I did over the long 4th of July Weekend 2021, I read The Body Keeps the Score to learn about the root causes of my alcoholism. Reading this fearlessly insightful book by Boston based Psychotherapist Bessel van der Kolk led me to see how I create my own suffering based upon the lies that I tell myself. This book provides insights as to exactly what causes alcoholism.

Van der Kolk answers an important question. In Primetime AA meetings, it is common to imagine frustration and confused thinking. Is it truly helpful to use our powerful imaginations to create a narrative in AA meetings based upon emotional dis-ease? In my opinion it is not helpful to go into a rapture of emotional conflict at Primetime AA. It is helpful to know you are traumatized. But it is not helpful to nurture your alcoholic thinking by superimposing more trauma upon your world. Primetime AA speakers are releasing feel good emotions and brain chemicals by talking about trauma when in my opinion they should be talking about healing their trauma instead.

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Trauma superimposes itself upon everything around it

Traumatized people have a tendency to superimpose their trauma on everything around them and have trouble deciphering whatever is going on around them. There appears to be nothing in between. Van der Kolk also found that trauma affects the imagination. My theory is that this is why great artists are often traumatized individuals who both create great works of art as trauma self-therapy and/or resort to drugs and alcohol to numb their posttraumatic stress disorder.

Alcoholics like to imagine trauma

Should alcoholics be fantasizing about creating trauma as is done in Primetime AA meetings? Imagination is absolutely critical to the quality of our lives. Our imagination enables us to leave our routine everyday existence by fantasizing about travel, food, sex, falling in love or having the last word-all the things that make life interesting. Imagination gives us the opportunity to envision new possibilities-it is an essential launchpad for making our hopes and dreams come true.

what causes alcoholism the body keeps the score
My reactions to the world are a result of my early trauma

Traumatized people look at the world in a fundamentally different way from other people. For most of us a healthy able bodied man with perfect posture who has somehow finagled a handicapped placard to hang on his rear-view mirror so that he can park in the handicapped spot in a crowded supermarket is nothing to react to. To an average person he is just a man getting into his car. But for me as a victim of violence at the hands of bullies, this is a man who is assaulting me with his scam. In my hyper vigilant way of dealing with the world I go into a panic as I yell at him: “Hey, what’s your handicap?” I combat dishonesty with violent speech, acting out my PTSD. This creates a flood of endorphins and serotonin in my brain. When the brain rush is over and I honestly reflect upon this acting out of my trauma, I hate myself.

By Dean McAdams

Born a poor peckerwood in a Tujunga holler, Dean practiced secrets of the ancient & modern masters to end up liberated in the coastal paradise of West L.A.