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Thursday 20 November 2014

Tove Lo tells it like it is: Addictions, Emotions and Substance Abuse

by Stephen B.Chadwick, MA Counselling Psychology.
Tove Lo

I recently watched Tove Lo's new video "Habits" also called "High all the Time" and I was struck by how startingly honest both the lyrics to the song and its accompanying video were. I'll leave the video for the end of the post, but for those who might currently be in recovery, you may or may not want to watch the video as it may be triggering and may (or may not) cause the viewer to want to use, especially if the viewer is in their early stages of recovery and their recovery is still rather fragile.

But suffice it to say that substances, whether alcohol or drugs or food or sex or gambling are really a means to self-soothe. Addictions and addictive behaviours are a way to self-medicate and assist an individual to manage their emotional states.

People will often deny their pain until they feel comfortable enough to acknowledge it.

The subject of addictions, substance abuse/misuse or drug habits could fill volumes of books. And I have hinted at how someone might possibly overcome  drugs use/abuse/ misuse in a much earlier post on healthy lifestyles changes and how a person migh make a move towards a drug-free life.

In the video by Tove Lo, a Swedish pop artist, she recounts the daily pattern of her behaviour and we as the viewere can see a slow, sad decline as she wanders and drifts through her daily (and mostly nightly) existence, partying to forget her pain. Her life appears meaningless, filled with empty, ephemeral pleasures as she tries to chase away her sadness and avoid confronting her anguish.

From a substance abuse perspective, she is in classic denial. And this, actually, is quite normal for most people before they become engaged in recovery. People will often deny their pain until they feel comfortable enough to acknowledge it and experience it. In some ways, like the life-ring that I mentioned, people who are in the early stages of recovery will not be quite ready to let go of their addiction, which will usually involve looking at the underlying reasons why they got addicted in the first place.

With the case of Tove Lo, for example, she (or the character she writes about) was still clinging to the memory of the broken relationship she had. And again, as I have mentioned before, well-meaning people, though somewhat misguided, will coma along to the addicted person and say glibly "Oh, Just Get over it" or "Get over Him/Her". Would that they could!

Therefore probably what is quite classic substance abuse impediment is anxiety and avoidance -- the other AA's! When someone who is actively using begins to feel some anxiety, whatever that anxiety or discomfort may be, when the anxiety reaches a certain height, pitch or intensity, they will look to find ways to avoid the uncomfortable feelings and then will go out and use.

Keep this in mind while you watch her music video and if you are indeed feeling triggered....


Remember, you deserve to be happy.

The video follows after the sign-off.
Take Care,

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