REFLECTING ON ADDICTION

WRITTEN BY THE ENDPAIN TEAM
Illustrations By Gel Jamlang
Gel Jamlang is a Filipino illustrator, also currently working as a graphic designer and art instructor at Bethesda, Maryland. Gel has earned her bachelor of arts degree in Visual Communications from the University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts. She has regularly contributed editorial illustrations for the Lenny Letter, New Republic Magazine and other publications. Gel often paints surreal imagery and everyday objects. Her work can be seen at her website, geljamlang.com and on her Instagram @geljamlang.
Reflecting on Addiction

When we picked the topic of “addiction” to explore throughout August and September, we set out to accomplish three things: create a space for honest, non-judgmental conversation about a highly stigmatized subject, share interviews with experts breaking new ground in the world of addiction treatment, and question the way the status quo understands and defines addiction. We knew we had our work cut out for us, and that we had chosen a topic that is the source of vast suffering and is very familiar and close to home for a lot of people.

Over the course of two months, our expectations were exceeded thanks to the remarkable contributors who courageously shared their stories, knowing that their honesty and transparency would help others in their own healing processes. As we learned from our interview with Adriana Rizzolo, “addiction is a vibration that thrives in secrecy,” which made the sharing aspect of our platform feel all the more necessary. While every personal story we published was about addiction in some way, a different lesson was offered by each: We considered how breaking the promise to keep a loved one’s addiction a secret can lead to unexpected outcomes; how addiction functions in a family system and what it means to photograph that experience; the emotional underpinnings that lead someone to try heroin for the first time; how yoga lends itself to the internal journey of recovery; how recognizing your inherent value as a person is integral to overcoming an addiction;, and how recovery takes place when we make the decision to put our own healing first.

From Kyla Milberg’s photo essay, “The Cost of Being Free”

Along with stories from experiencers, we published interviews and shared resources that fell outside of mainstream addiction treatment models. We interviewed Dr. Wesley Ryan, who incorporates ketamine ––the only FDA-approved psychedelic––into his private psychotherapeutic practice in order to help patients glean new perspectives about themselves and their addictive behaviors. We interviewed Ali Mezey, a constellation work facilitator who believes that addiction is never an isolated experience but a product of family systems. We profiled Evo Health and Wellness (along with a first-person narrative by their founder) to learn about their radical approach of empowering patients to outline their own recovery, even if that doesn’t include sobriety. We published a free hypnosis recording, guided by hypnotherapist Caroline Lehan, to examine the underlying self-beliefs that lead to addiction; and lastly, an interview with Patrick Bordnick, who wants to arm social workers and therapists with Virtual Reality technology in order to enable recovering addicts to face their triggers in the safety of a practitioner’s office, without the real-life stakes of relapse. This is only a snapshot of the innovation that is taking place in the world of addiction treatment, but we’re thrilled that we were able to share this information, especially with those folks for whom AA and other status-quo modalities aren’t cutting it.

As editors, we feel so lucky to have assisted in the unfolding and sharing of such beauty and vulnerability. In many ways, our month of addiction was a perfect encapsulation of ENDPAIN’s mission as a whole: to explore painful topics with compassion, share healing tools, and dismantle paradigms that perpetuate fear, guilt, and shame. For that, we are so proud of all the people who participated in the theme, and are endlessly grateful for the community of people, both old and new, who engaged with our stories over the last two months.

Next week we will share a statement about our “Gut” theme and what’s next for ENDPAIN. Thank you for joining in the conversation and please check back next week.

From our interview with Ali Mezey on Constellation Work
From our interview with Patrick Brodnick on Virtual Reality
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On the August and September Theme
Introduction to Addiction
May 2018 Theme
Introduction to Forgiveness
June 2018 Theme
Introduction to Aging
April 2018 Theme
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