‘Everyone is addicted to something nowadays’.
I used to think like that. With people increasingly speaking out about sex, video game or any other kind of addiction, the more ridicule there is. Where is the boundary between having a hard time letting something go, and having a physical dependency on it?
Harvard Health Publishing defines addiction by three factors:
‘craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences.’
In the ‘Doctor’s Opinion‘ segment of the AA big book, it is explained that addiction wires the dopamine receptors of the brain to hijack our reward system. At the time of writing, Carl Jung even said that there is no hope for alcoholics, apart from a few cases that reportedly recovered after a spiritual awakening. It is not necessary to believe in God for this, only to believe in something greater than ourselves, such as community or the power of nature.
Willpower has no impact in recovery from addiction.
Once we have become dependent on a substance, it takes over as a coping mechanism for everything in our lives. Imagining live without it can seem as impossible as leaving an abusive partner. They promise you they’ll change, but they never do. If willpower had anything to do with it, we would have been able to do it once we realised the negative consequences of staying with our drug of choice.
1 in 10 Americans is addicted, the most common being marihuana, pain relievers and cocaine (HHP).
Although there are hereditary and nurture factors such as adverse childhood experiences, nobody starts off as an addict. We go from liking the effects of something to suddenly realising that we cannot imagine life without it.
It’s crucial addicts realise that it’s physical and no willpower will save them: only then do they commit to recovery.
And this is why it’s so important to realise the physical disease that addiction is. As long as we believe we’re greedy, disorganised or broken inside, we commit to a vicious circle of continuing to use. Only when accepting that we can never use our drug of choice like others, that there is no bargaining, no middle ground, can we come to terms with the reality of our disease.
‘We react physically to drugs by craving more drugs; our bodies, never satisfied, demand more and more. This phenomenon doesn’t occur in non-addicts (this may include some people who use drugs heavily)’ – Am I An Addict pamphlet
I hope this has been helpful to people who have questions about addiction. If you think you might be an addict, please feel free to reach out or look up local resources that I can help find. On another note, emotional sobriety is crucial in recovery from addiction as well as trauma which might prove useful to you too.