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Connection is the Medicine for Addiction

-Guest blog by -Shelly Young

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Johann Hari is famous for his work in the field of addiction. His most famous quote is “Connection is the opposite of addiction.” His book Chasing the Scream and 2015 Ted Talk 

were revelational for many including myself and helped open up a bigger conversation, a bigger story around what the ideal conditions for wellness are and by creating the ideal conditions for wellness, substance use would decrease organically. 

I feel connection is the medicine for addiction rather than the opposite of addiction but either way, human beings require connection to survive. 

What are the ideal physiological conditions for connection? 

  1. A regulated nervous system
  2. A felt sense of safety

When our body’s nervous system is regulated, (relaxed, calm) our nervous system sends a message to the body’s around us that we are safe to connect with and that we are open to connecting. The bonding chemical oxytocin is released in the brain which moves your brain out of the primitive survival mode and into the social engagement mode.

When your body feels safe, safety is reflected outward through body language, the tone of your voice and in your eyes which signals ease to others. Sharing the sense of safety which creates a felt sense of ease is co-regulation. You can help others feels at ease in your presence by practicing regulating your own nervous system, the ideal conditions for connection. 

Your presence, your ability to connect and co-regulate is powerful healing medicine for your loved ones. 

What if you’re feeling dysregulated? Seek out people or animals who can breathe with you, hold your hand, provide comfort until you have the felt sense of safety in your body again. Keep practicing. It’s worth it. 

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