“Our society considers hard work, intense recreation, vigorous exercise, rushing through the day, excessive eating, frequent anger, occasional deep depression, and sex without love as “normal”, and we have become addicted to the brain chemicals that accompany these so-called normal behavior.
Addiction is not difficult to understand. Accepting we or a loved one is an addict is difficult. The only reason that people use a substance or a position (power) or food is to change their feelings.
Often the addict has a large reserve of hurt moments or experiences which s/he uses to prove why her/his life is so tragic.
I know this because during my addiction to alcohol I had saved up every hurt feeling or experience and I remember consciously choosing which feelings to use where. This all gets tremendously labor-intensive if the same people are seen very often as new abuses have to be “used”. So the ever resourceful addict creates sad, bad, horrible experiences that never happened. I think this behavior could safely be called “crazy”.
This behavior is what mental health professionals use to “prove” the mental illness. The problem is no one has been able to prove the medical model of the disease theory. So, as far as I am concerned, the disease theory is a theory.
Instead, I believe, that when we are under the control of an addiction, we make increasingly bad and hurtful choices. Remember, the addict is living in his/her head in a world of their own creation. Pile those crazy choices on top of the fantasy in one’s head and the addict is miserable. The misery is self-inflicted and he/she is the only one who can choose to leave that miserable state.
I believe mental health to be fluid and we are each in and out of it several times a day. I know I am healthy when I know I am crazy because I didn’t used to know the difference. Today, I have the choice to abandon my crazy behavior.
Addiction is very prevalent in our world. Changemaker defines addiction as any behavior that is chosen to enable a person to live a fantasy. Addicts don’t live in reality. They live in a mental world of their own creation. What an addict uses to control his/her feelings and thoughts is not important. Rather it be alcohol, food, religion, other drugs, power, money, etc., the addict is using the addiction for only one reason–to change how they feel. It is said that there are a million excuses for using the addiction but only one reason. And that reason is to change how he/she feels. When someone is living in his/her head, reality rears its ugly head in feelings. So those feelings have to go away—this is what the addiction provides. It takes the feelings away.
We believe that many of us use something from time to time to change how we feel. The addict is the person who uses the addiction on a regular basis to avoid the reality of life around them. For example, alcoholics may be daily drinkers (3-4 days weekly) or weekend alcoholics (mainly drink on the weekends), or periodic alcoholics (drink for 2-3 days in a row but do the drinking at different periods of time–also may go long periods of time (even years)–without alcohol.).
Substance addicts are easy to spot. But many more people are addicted to power (codependency), money, material possessions (living in homes/having automobiles they can barely afford), work (they will say that they have to work because they need the money–often married to poor money managers), sex, etc.
Many people are addicted to feeling bad (the victim role). Remember how we feel is our choice. It is very hard for the martyr to give up that “poor me” behavior but until both people in a relationship are free to give and receive without guilt trips, the relationship is not a positive experience for either.
The disease model of addiction has helped add to the confusion about addiction. Addicts live in a self-induced delusion. The delusion is that the world revolves around them. In reality, the world doesn’t revolve around any individual.
As John Powell has written, we each need a Copernican moment when we realize the world doesn’t revolve around us. Remember Copernius went against all other thinkers to say that the Sun didn’t revolve around Earth, but that Earth revolved around the Sun.
In other words, some of the main issues in addiction treatment are maturity issues. The age at which a person started drinking, using, eating, buying, being overpowering to others, using sex, etc. is the emotional age he/she still is. If he/she started at age 15, which is pretty normal, then he/she is age 14 emotionally.
So recovery is generally about growing up. Another main issue of why people are addictive is to continue to live life in their head or in their imagination. No one knows reality–we only have a perception of reality. But living in our head is not being free and open to life.
As the hero in 10 Million Ways to Die says, “I never knew that I lived in a world that I hadn’t created.” That is why the addict experiences such anger at having to give up the addiction. It seems to the addict that his/her use can only be pertaining to him/her. In reality, the addiction is affecting everyone in the addict’s life.