The detours by etymology often allow us to define the depth of a word. In this case, this process finds its interest if we look at the word “addiction”. This word, contrary to what we hear, is not an anglicism: it comes from Latin ad-dicere ” say to “.
It turns out that during Roman civilization, slaves or orphans did not have a name. A name was assigned to them by the authorities and the same name was “said” to the head of the family, the paterfamilias… Who had all power of life and death over his children, his wife and his slaves.
From this analysis, the term addiction therefore basically refers to several aspects:

  • an identity and / or emotional deficit (no name, no benchmark, etc.),
  • an underlying debt of the orphan or the slave
  • submission to a figure that is both saving and all-powerful, the paterfamilias
  • the deprivation of independence and freedom by this same all-powerful figure.

Relative to addictive behaviors, and thanks to this etymological lighting, appear in filigree some elements suggesting the weight of situations, incidentally inextricable … where intermixture and fleeting enjoyment, power of life or death, in the most dramatic cases, mix.
But the purpose of this article (no more than sophrology itself!) Is not to analyze the causes of addiction. It would be very pretentious to do it on a few lines! On the contrary, it is a question of showing in what sophrology constitutes an interesting tool and of bringing concrete elements … because answers exist.

The diversity of disorders requires varied responses and multidisciplinary care, especially in the most serious forms of addiction.

Addictions relate as well to behaviors (compulsive games, internet, bulimia, anorexia, sex …), as to products (cigarettes, alcohol, narcotics …). The term is often used to refer to drug dependence or even drug addiction, the most serious forms.

However, it is not a question of underestimating one addiction compared to another, because each sign (at admittedly different levels) of more or less significant behavioral, physiological and psychological disorders. It is precisely the diversity of disorders, which requires plural responses, most often provided in the context of collegial work, by several professionals: addictologists, psychiatrists, sophrologists, nurses, teachers of physical and sports activities, artists …

Several criteria are also available to health professionals to qualify addictions. Most of them retain the biological (family history, physiological data, etc.), sociological (family environment, context, social situation, etc.) and psychological (personality of the subject) components. These components focus precisely around a certain number of points, such as the impossibility of resisting the impulse of acting out, loss of control, relief or pleasure during the addictive phase, the existence of cessation syndrome after cessation, duration of episodes, repeated attempts to stop addiction, time spent on “managing” addiction, progressive loss of relationships, continued addiction despite the perversity of the effects …
All the phenomena observed inexorably refer to the notion of “values”.

A story of values?

In almost all cases, the addict, a fortiori the addict, will stop his addictive behavior for the benefit, only, of a superior value or interest … and very rarely, if ever, for fear (illness, death, material conditions, etc.), or for a lower value or even for a non-existent value.
In this sense, sophrology sessions may allow the gradual restoration of “interests” or “values”, by:

  • the “simple” presence to the body, through the breathing
  • awareness of the 5 senses, projection into positive values ​​(futurization techniques)
  • the meeting of body and mind (Why do I breathe? / What do I breathe for?)
  • the re-discovery of existential values: benevolence towards him, health and harmony, altruism, gratitude…

In his book “Foundations and Methodology of Sophrology”, Dr. Patrick-André Chéné evokes the allegory of Plato (The Republic, episode of the Cave): the man is chained there, prisoner inside his cave; but, guided, he will have to dare to remove his chains then head for the exit, even if it means being dazzled by the sun. This representative allegory, it should be remembered, of the first 4 degrees of sophrology, perfectly illustrates the approach to initiate with a drug addict, for example, within the framework of collegial work with health professionals.

How to get out of the cave?

One of the fundamental principles of sophrology is the principle of positive action. It is based on the fact that “any positive action directed towards our body or towards our mind has a positive repercussion on our whole being”.

This principle is of major interest here and constitutes the first step to be taken, to rediscover bodily functions and reclaim them. In this case, access to the body by breath is fundamental. As Dr. Thierry Janssen points out in an article In search of the spirit published by INREES: ” the word “spirit” comes from the Latin spiritus: breath. It is this breath which crosses being and makes it alive. We can therefore say that the mind is the set of links that exist between all dimensions of the living. Life manifests itself only because these links are established at all levels: subatomic, molecular, cellular, organic, psychological, sociological “. However, in the most serious addictive forms, all or part of these levels are harmed …

Thus, to (re) discover his breath and, therefore, his body, basic exercises such as abdominal breathing, basic sophronization or learning chest breathing will be offered. Obviously, the first sessions conducted with drug addicts, medically monitored, will be both regular and concentrated around these basic exercises. Subsequent sessions will help raise awareness of the body diagram and body image, then of self.
The support, the presence, the regularity and the commitment of the sophrologist (and the team!) Constitute the pillars of the work, which can be articulated, especially in the most serious forms, around three main stages:

  • the reconstruction, however imperfect, of the ego: self-image / positive image. The sophronic state will allow access to it in complete relaxation and step by step, by a progressive reception of the positive phenomena that may be offered to the patient.
  • reconnection with realities: his body, his breathing, realistic objectives (even minor!), possibilities, solutions, projections into the future…
  • restoring relationships with the Other: listening, understanding, speaking, importance of the Other (hence the importance of group sessions!).

The latest studies carried out with alcoholics followed by the Center of Alcoology of Annecy, highlight the interest to alternate group sessions and brief individual sessions of sophrology; the latter being based more on exchanges around the phenomena encountered during the exercises. The sessions are spread over a minimum of 6 months, at a rate of 2 x 1 h / week minimum and in groups of 8 to 10 people maximum. Finally, the value of multidisciplinary care is regularly confirmed.

The added value of sophrology in the treatment of addictions is undeniable. On the other hand, one cannot be indifferent, and a fortiori the sophrologist, faced with inflation, particularly among young people, of addictive behaviors: these are perhaps “quite simply” representative of an entire society, in loss of bearings and plagued by comparative, competitive and consumerist madness. The question is asked.

But, there again, sophrology certainly has a utility … but this time, in its preventive dimension and from the angle of a “philosophy or pedagogy of life” as desired by its founder, Professor Alfonso Caycedo, neuropsychiatrist.

Author: Jean-Michel SCHLUPP, Sophrologist.