Addiction is the use of a substance, behavior, or person to regulate mood or self-esteem. For example, if my boss calls me on the carpet at work, I can gamble or go shopping. If I’m angry at my partner, I can drink instead of talk about it. If I have a persistent self-critical tape in my head, I can work out to excess. If intimacy overwhelms me, I can end up in relationships with a series of selfish people who only want to be intimate with themselves. If I’m in 10th grade and in despair over rejection by my peers, I can take the drugs offered to me by a popular kid. If I’m lonely, I can eat the whole pizza. As you can see, these are all avoidance behaviors, all meant to numb or distract me from the pain of feeling bad about myself or just plain feeling bad. Now there’s nothing wrong with avoiding pain, we’re actually wired to do so. The problems arise when the avoidance of honest pain creates more problems than it solves. Addictions can result in a hangover, an empty bank account, a broken relationship, and a broken heart. Even an addiction to exercise can crowd out meaning and connection. Whatever we are addicted to becomes our primary relationship and the organizing principle of our life. In that manner, beating an addiction involves not only sobriety but also the reorienting of our priorities. For both, a 12-Step program is invaluable.