Thursday, February 25, 2016

Addiction is Addiction is Addiction....

I am a big believer in the concept of addiction. 

I have shared, many times, that I am a recovering addict. I have been in recovery for nearly 15 years. 

When I started this "Odyssey" I bought into the differences in addictions. How some substances are "more addictive" and the importance of the concept of PHYSICAL ADDICTION. It is a scientific fact that some substances induce a more powerful physical dependence that causes PHYSICAL withdrawal when withheld.

That is only a very SMALL part of addiction.

The concept of being addicted to food was one I had trouble with when I was younger. At that time, I felt that people who claimed to be addicted to food were simply lacking in willpower and looking for an excuse. I was quite judgmental about that in my youth.

Over the years, my views have changed and I have come to believe that addiction is addiction is addiction...and that the PHYSICAL DEPENDENCE caused by specific substances is a very small part of the problem.

Addictions (no matter what they are) have a common pattern. 

  • Most addictions begin with something that is enjoyable and pleasurable.
  • There is typically a period of time when the activity is recreational and optional.
  • There comes a time (at some point) when the activity/addiction is used to cope with an unpleasant event/feeling/situation.
  • The person begins to habitually utilize the activity/addiction during times of stress as the coping mechanism of choice.
  • Other methods of coping are neglected and not utilized
  • The feeling that the activity/addiction is necessary for COPING grows.
  • The feeling that the activity/addiction is necessary for SURVIVAL grows.
  • The activity/addiction is no longer pleasurable OR optional
  • The activity/addiction begins to create unpleasant consequences.
  • The addict tolerates the consequences because they feel they cannot survive without the "addiction".
  • The consequences continue to get worse and the addict continues to tolerate more and more pain because they feel they cannot survive without the "addiction".
  • When something interferes with the "supply" the addict experiences panic and will do what is necessary to obtain the supply.
  • No matter how bad the consequences/pain gets, the addict will  believe that the activity/addiction is a choice they are making and they will defend the activity/addiction claiming they enjoy it.
  • If something happens to permanently disrupt the supply...the addict will still tend to "romanticize" the activity/addiction...choosing to remember only the pleasant and enjoyable times.

As you can see, this has almost nothing to do with physical need or dependency...and everything to do with psychological dependence. 

The pattern above describes my addiction to the abuser as much as it does my addiction to a substance. If you look at it that makes absolute sense that we were addicted to a person/relationship.... and that our addiction, though it may have started as feelings of love.... was NOT love in the end...but an unhealthy habit that was killing us.

No matter whether we are talking about alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, shopping, matter what the addiction is...the path to recovery is the same. 

The act of simply NOT USING is NOT RECOVERY. If we remain as miserable outside the addiction as we did inside the addiction then we are "dry drunks".
(an alcoholic who is not currently drinking alcohol but is still following an irregular, 
undisciplined lifestyle like that of a drunkard)

In order to recover certain things are necessary:

  • Absolute abstinence (even when you have the urge to use)
  • Realization that the way the addiction is seen is not based in reality (an illusion). 
  • Realization that the addiction is causing unacceptable harm to ourselves and others
  • Realization that there is a problem within ourselves that makes us prone to addiction 
  • Willingness to see, examine and address our own problems 
  • Acceptance of realistic, personal responsibility for current situation  
  • Belief that we deserve better and are worthy of more
  • Belief that we have the power to decide and act on our own behalf
  • Knowledge that there is NOTHING worth sacrificing EVERYTHING for. 
I decided I was ready to recover from my first addiction 15 years ago.... and I decided I was ready to start to recover from my last addiction about 3 years ago. 

In truth, the second "addiction" was more damaging because the "substance" was actually MALICIOUS and manipulative.

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