I'm up and without cigarettes - but I'll write about addiction as a whole for I know it well. I live with it everyday. Some would think it odd, but it is a voice inside our heads - an entity that one lives with. Mine is still alive because I smoke and I still have to take pain medication. It isn't the battle it once was - although it still lives.
Most people think addiction and alcoholism a crutch. They do not realize that it is something that per it's beholden, in it's height is hated. I hated mine, for it was never satisfied. Can you imagine never getting enough food, or sex, or sleep? Now magnify this by say, a thousand. It propels you like nothing you've ever known. It's all you can think about, your keeping high, or getting there. It is your first thought upon waking, and your last thought at lights out. How your going to acquire it the next day. It's called preoccupation and it's a mother of a job.
Addiction is by nature a dis-ease of the brain. All illnesses are called DIS-EASE. The body is not at ease. It's really that simple. I remember the first time I thought that I was an addict. I'd stolen pills again, and knew I was going to get caught. See, consequences hardly matter -- all that matter is the high to the brain. Once the cycle has started - there is no stopping it with out intervention, of some kind. I was a mere 18 when I knew it and I continued in mine until I went to treatment at 24. I was very fortunate, I was helped. I wanted help, I knew I was not normal. I knew my behavior was sick. I wanted help which is where the addict has to be - or can get to. I was at bottom, and willing.
How does a person become an addict? Well, this is a matter of debate. Nurture or nature is the query. I believe it is a little of both and I've seen hundreds. I believe that my brain reacts to chemicals differently that most. There is evidence of this. I think when I take a pill, it feels differently to me that it does to the average person. As with alcohol. It is about receptor sites in the brain and how they react. However, anyone who gets ahold of some of these drugs today - Meth and the like - can become addicted if the do enough of it and the conditions are ripe. What I mean by this is - if a person has issues, person pain that they are not either capable of dealing with and they resort to chemicals; anyone can become chemically dependent if they use a substance to mask emotional wounds. Particularly in the case of grief that is unresolved, if a person is not willing to feel their emotions and resorts to alcohol on a long term basis. Most chemically dependent persons have some sort of emotional scars - statistics show almost 90% have childhood abuse of some sort.
So why do we blame these people? That has always been my question? What is the need for judgment here? Would we have handled their pain any better? Ah, we're a people of judgment. We like to look down our noses at others and believe how well we'd have done if we were in their shoes. Except we aren't. Except we rarely even think about their circumstances. We just want to place ourselves higher and know we'd have done a better job. It makes everyone 'feel' better. I really dislike this demeanor. Not only because of what I've been through, but because of the supremacist attitude. I've worked with all kinds of people and I don't feel the need to feel better than any of them. Even when someone does the nose lifting -- it does not make that person any better -- really is just makes them uncompassionate (if this is a word). As far as I'm concerned- they are the ones with the issues.
I wish the world understood addiction better - and I think it is getting better. There is less association with skid row bums. I was far from that. Shoot, I've worked with Priests. It is not a respecter of persons - it is sort of like a host in a living body. I know one thing, it is the only disease that tells you that you don't have one. An then there is denial - it works 24-7 telling everyone else you don't have a problem either and it's damn good at it. It's the world's fault, it's your Mom's fault, etc. This, another mechanism of the brain - it protects the disease. Denial is one of the hardest parts to deal with because it clings so tightly to the belief that it's a thousand other things in the addicts life that's wrong. This is why interventions work, the addict is bombarded with truth. That is the only thing that will work.
I'm grateful for shows like Intervention. It's introduced the world, into true addiction. It's edgy, gritty and pretty real. One just knows the life isn't pretty, and that it takes a village to get an addict to stop sometimes.
Perhaps the next time you go for that bite of ice cream that you know you shouldn't have, or that second helping of whatever - think what it would be like if you couldn't stop yourself. Think what it would be like if that's all you thought about, morning, noon and night. There are those that are addicted to food, and sex. We are an odd lot, humans. We adapt in some peculiar ways sometimes. I don't know if any of us are "normal" - whatever this means. I tend to think that we're all colored like the rainbow. There is just some of us that are more vibrant that others. I believe this way, there is no need to judge our fellow man.
Addicts struggle, and struggle greatly. The mental anguish alone would drive (for sake of knowing what else to call it) the average person, mad. Totally bonkers. It is a horrible internal struggle between right, wrong and getting high. It cannot be seen -- but trust me, it's there. It isn't as if we don't have souls. Perhaps this is what's thought. This is far from reality - once sober - their some of the kindest people, creative and thoughtful. Most just have major hurts. Addiction fuels this fire, and they hurt themselves more - and everyone around them. This is what makes recovery so hard. I did not say impossible. It is a rebirth. A transformation. One has to start over from a place many times, they've never been. How do you do this? That's a whole different blog. However it begins with the surrender. Surrender for an addict that's been fighting to get high for years is no easy feat. It is very, very frightening. However if they follow this tract, thus begins the change. Many do not continue to surrender because that is just the beginning. One almost has to die daily to the will of the addiction in order to stay sober - and some just never get this or cannot do it -- some never figure out how - but many do. I loved being a part of this. Watching people get well was like watching flowers bloom right before your very eyes. It's almost magical. I guess really it is. When you take someone in the trows of addiction and watch them stop, begin to rebuild their lives, their relationships, and most of all begin the heal - it's pretty magical. I guess you really could say - it's a miracle. I say this because, when the addiction is at it's height - it just keeps telling you to get higher. That's it's job. It doesn't know stopping. It just knows it wants more, and it isn't rational. So recovery? Yeah. It's pretty miraculous.