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Empaths and Addiction

Empaths and Addiction

Why are empaths so susceptible to alcohol, drug, sex, food, gambling, shopping, or other addictions?

Empaths can become overwhelmed and overstimulated due to their extreme sensitivity. When they “feel too much,” including their own or another’s pain, some empaths self-medicate. If they don’t know how to manage this sensory overload, they numb themselves to shut off their thoughts and feelings to diminish empathy, though not everyone is aware of this motivation.

You pay a high price for coping with your sensitivities through addictions. They wear down your body, mind, and spirit creating illness, depression, and more anxiety as you try to manage an over-stimulating world. At best, addictions only provide short term relief from sensory overload, but in the long term they stop working and will worsen your feeling of being overwhelmed.

Self–Evaluation and Getting Support

Though not all alcoholics or addicts absorb other people’s energy, I’ve observed that a large portion do. Unfortunately, many empaths remain undiagnosed and don’t realize how overstimulation and high sensitivity fuel their addictive behaviors. It’s therefore crucial to understand whether you’re coping with your sensitivities by engaging in addictions. How do you know? Ask yourself the following questions from my book The Empath’s Survival Guide:

  • Have I ever thought, “Life would be so much better if I didn’t drink or overeat?”
  • Have I ever tried to stop overeating or using substances for a month but could only last a few days, despite my best intentions?
  • Are you highly sensitive to the effect food has on your body?
  • Am I self-medicating to ease social anxiety or the stress I take on from the world?

If you suspect you are using alcohol, drugs, overeating, or addictive behaviors to manage the sensory overload of being an empath, take some time to reflect on how you cope by evaluating the following statements.

Turn to Substances or Other Addictions When:

  1. I’m overwhelmed by emotions (mine or another’s)
  2. I’m in emotional pain and feel frustrated, anxious, or depressed
  3. My feelings are hurt
  4. I feel uncomfortable in my own skin
  5. I can’t sleep
  6. I feel emotionally unsafe in a situation
  7. I feel criticized, blamed, or rejected
  8. I feel shy, anxious, or don’t fit in socially
  9. I’m isolating at home and I need confidence to go out in public
  10. I’m tired and need an energy boost
  11. I feel drained by energy vampires
  12. I want to escape and shut out the world

Here’s how to interpret this self-assessment:

  • Answering yes to even one statement indicates that you sometimes turn to an addiction to cope with your sensitivities.
  • Answering 2-5 yeses indicates you are moderately relying on an addiction to self-medicate feelings of sensory overload.
  • Answering 6 or more yeses indicates you are largely coping with empathy by engaging in addictive behavior.

Adapted from The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, MD a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.

empaths survival guide

To learn more techniques to manage your sensory overload get my PDF “Life Strategies for Sensitive People” Here.
Purchase Download >

Judith Orloff MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. Source Here

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