Addiction Defined

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No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”                                  ~1 Cor. 10:13

Addiction Defined

Addiction is defined as obsessive thinking and a compulsive need for drugs, alcohol, food, pornography, gambling, behaviors, relationships (that’s right we can become addicted to people as well, it’s called Co-Dependency) and so on that ultimately result in negative consequences. Some of these negative consequences are: Strained or broken marriages or other relationships, financial problems, legal problems (DUI, tickets and/or arrests), job loss or in jeopardy of being fired due to poor performance or tardiness. No matter how you slice it, to the addicted person that substance, behavior or relationship becomes their idol and getting professional help becomes a must.

Deception of Addiction

For families with someone who struggles with addiction, it is crucial to understand that the addicted person sees life, relationships and themselves in a distorted way. The addicted person does not see themselves or their behaviors the same as a healthy person. That’s why we scratch our heads and ask ourselves “What was he/she thinking?”   In my book, From Here to Serenity: Unraveling the Mysteries of Yesterday and Today for a Better Tomorrow; I discuss the deception cycle of addiction in great detail to help the reader understand their role in the addicted person’s life and how to stop contributing to the dysfunction. It is vital for family and friends to be aware of the deceptive nature of addictive persons, so they are not manipulated and used in order to further enable their lifestyle.

The Disease of Addiction

Addiction is often characterized as the pursuit of pleasure (feeling good) as well as the avoidance of pain (escape feeling uncomfortable). Addiction is a disease for two primary reasons:  1) Degenerative (it gets worse) 2) Progressive (it will not stop on its own). Addiction includes the development of tolerance (the need for more of the substance in order to achieve the same feeling) combined with withdrawal symptoms (the body’s adverse reaction when the intake of the substance is stopped).  In addition to tolerance, an addict or alcoholic will experience intense physical cravings for the drug and an emotional obsession to take alcohol or drugs regardless of the consequences. In essence, it is too painful to face the pain of reality (once addiction sets in) and it becomes too painful to stop using the substance, behavior or person.  Addiction develops over time and usually begins with misuse, moving toward abuse and resulting in addiction.

Misuse – To alleviate emotional or physical pain, a person might experiment with drugs or alcohol. Alternatively, one may use drugs or alcohol in a social setting, and decide to try them again just to have fun. Relieved of feelings of discomfort, the person will continue to use drugs or alcohol a second time, a third time and so on (i.e. drinking to “take the edge off”).

Abuse – Soon the person increases use to maintain the desired effects of euphoria and escape from reality. The original problems are left unattended and/or unresolved. If the person didn’t have problems at the onset of use, problems have now been created as a result of the use. Constant attempts to satisfy the body’s cravings for drugs or alcohol become the person’s new reality. (i.e. marital problems create more stress and the need for escape).

Addiction – Great time and effort is spent acquiring the alcohol or drugs. After the addict or alcoholic is completely entrenched in the cycle of addiction, the health, financial, social and emotional consequences appear. The addict may just feel that they have been unlucky, or blame the consequences on others instead of their addiction. (i.e. self deception and the need to deceive others so they buy into the addicted person distorted reasoning and ways of coping).  At this stage, they use substances in order not to feel inadequate, physically sick or to avoid dealing with their current life condition.

For many individuals who struggle with substance abuse/addiction, it is just as important for families and friends to seek out advice and/or counseling in order to break the unhealthy dynamic that often forms around those who are addicted. By breaking this cycle, the addict is forced to see that “something is wrong” and may seek out help themselves.  Recovery from addiction is not only possible, but it is realistically achievable.  I didn’t say it will be easy, but what is in life?

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