Have you ever wondered what causes addiction?

Does it seem sometimes that all around us is one form of addiction or another? Entertainment, shopping, work, the internet, sex, food, drugs, alcohol?

The Cause Of Addiction

Stress and addiction are actually “cause and effect” according to Yogi Amrit Desai, founder of Kripalu Yoga. His thinking is explained in Natural Awakenings, Healing the Root Cause of Addiction with Ayurveda A Natural Cure for Unhealthy Dependence by Linda Sechrist

According to Yogi Desai in this article, “Addictions are antidotes that provide a temporary escape from the stress-producing, conflict-creating reactions you have about what you are doing, where you are going and who you are with. Addiction, which is only an effect, occurs when you continue to use inappropriate external resources to reduce stress and restore a sense of balance while failing to resolve the cause of the stress hidden in the unconscious.”

The first question this raises is:

  • why does anyone need an antidote to a reaction?
  • are some reactions OK and others not?

Have you ever noticed when your feelings and reactions are “corrected” by other people and how that feels?  and what is your reaction to that experience?

Problems with reactions and the need to escape them come from a conflict we are unable to resolve. Usually, the seeds of addiction are created when we are children.  As children, we are stuck not only physically but also emotionally as well. We have to survive in the environment into which we are born. It is that natural need to survive that can get us in trouble because we sometimes have to live with compromises to our worth and dignity that we do not want or deserve.

Unfortunately, the seeds of addiction can happen innocently. If, as a child, someone were to step on your foot, and you were told not to cry, that the hurt is really not so bad, you would likely feel awful from the hurt foot, awful that your hurt was not acknowledged, bad for crying, and confused by the reaction to what seems obvious to you: you needed help and healing.  The seeds of addiction have just been planted when the child has to reject his or her natural feelings to be accepted by parents and family.

The seeds of addiction can be magnified in a situation of extreme abuse where the child experiences both abuse and denial of the abuse. Often the child must act with affection and gratitude to their abuser, which causes their feelings of conflict intensify. Add the natural pain of the child and the thwarting of the natural inclination to love that an abusive situation creates, and you have a serious emotional mess!

This mess if it is allowed to exist over a long period of time results in disabling and creates damaging, conflicting emotions that can result in extreme and maybe permanent damage to that individual’s integrity and ability to self-regulate.

People who suffer from addictions deserve compassion.  Highly sensitive people are particularly vulnerable in abusive situations because they feel the constant negative energies around them and they heal slowly.  It is difficult to be stoic and be a highly sensitive person.

There are any number of solutions and paths to healing the conditions and causes of addiction.  They include therapy that validates feelings, and alternative health practices like meditation, eft, and reiki that help release frozen, painful energy in the body.

Healing from addictions and child abuse can be a lengthy process because you have to reverse the long process of devaluation that created the problem in the first place. Sensitive people often experience devaluation because of their sensitivity so abuse can add an additional experience of devaluation making healing even more challenging.

One of the bravest actions a highly sensitive person can take is to decide to be an advocate for themselves and get the help they need so that they can have some quality of life.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Mark Noo on April 29, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Usually I don’t think people understand why I became an alcoholic. Sometimes I am not completely sure that I do. Your explanation is not just plausible, I think it is right. At least it is for me.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Maria on April 29, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Thanks, Mark.

      I hope I have helped you and provided you with some peace of mind.

      All the best,

    • Shar on September 1, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      You have the gene…….I believe that it is a Gift from God.

  2. Hayden on May 21, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Hi Maria

    Thank you for this article and your site. It helps alot.

    Is there any books on HSP’s and abuse? There seems to be limited information on the subject.

    I went through lets say ‘a tough’ time through out my life for better words. I model and i’m considered very handsome. Yet, i let myself become addicted to sex, food, over spending, anger etc and ‘used’ by people who could sense my vulnerability and i know it sounds awful, but it’s to illustrate a point, would be considered alot less attractive than me in appearance. I just wanted someone to understand me really.Anyway, if you do know of any books on Hsp’s and abuse esp if it’s targeted towards male HSPS’s, then that would be amazing.

    Thanks Maria


    • Maria Hill on May 22, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Hi Hayden,

      It sounds like you have been through a lot. Wanting to be understood is an important motivation for highly sensitive people and I am glad that you recognize that desire in yourself. I do not know of any books that specifically deal with HSPs and abuse. Ted Zeff and Cliff Harwin are 2 HSP counselors who specialize in male sensitivity. Ted Zeff has written about sensitive men so his books might helps. It might also help you to investigate narcissism recovery since many people in modeling may be narcissists and HSPs are vulnerable to them. One good healing program on narcissism was created by Melanie Tonia Evans and I recommend it for narcissism abuse. If you search for her and look up her blog you can see the kind of work she does.

      I hope this helps,

  3. Leonora on August 29, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for helping me to understand my childhood and current anxieties; every day I strive to galvanize my creativity—music, painting, writing—to ease my anxiety, I’m also practicing mental strength and not allow my intense emotions to guide my decisions, a monumental task that is sometimes two steps forward two back but I’m determined, thank you!

    • Maria Hill on August 29, 2018 at 12:35 pm

      It is that way for most of us in a challenging world. One thing you can do when emotions surface that you do not want to take over is to write about them in a journal. Sometimes or feelings simply want to be heard and respected. Sometimes there is a grieving process going on that causes feelings to surface over and over again. You can honor them without letting them become destructive and then you can make the right decisions for you.

      All the best,