What is Addiction?

Anybody can be an addict. It does not afflict any particular race or religion or sexuality. It is not determined by age or influence. It is not visible to the naked eye and it can not be detected by blood tests or x-rays. It is however a disease, that affects both the mind and the body, and if not treated can be fatal.

I have spent most of my life suffering from addiction, although even I was unaware of this until a few years ago. Like most teenagers I experimented in high school with various drugs, but it was not until my early twenties that I found that alcohol was my drug of choice. I believe that addicts think differently than other people. Besides having a more physically “addictive personality”, or genetic predisposition, I believe we are more sensitive and aware than the common populace. This sensitivity leads to a variety of mental illnesses that the addiction embraces as a means for the escape. Suffering from anxiety, introversion, and depression, I have in the past self medicated myself with alcohol, which only led to my total dependence upon the drug to enable me to deal with my every day life.

One of the strangest traits about addiction, are the individuals stubborn refusal to admit that anything is wrong, even when their close ones have come to the conclusion long ago that there is a serious problem. It is an example of how powerful and perverse addiction is. It strips us of our self esteem, our desire to live, our belief in anything good and kind, our will to change, and our self worth. I have met hundreds of individuals that have lost everything that is dear to them; not just occupations and material possessions, but families, loved ones and their own self respect. I have seen these people crying out in self disgust, promising God through prayers that they will change, vowing to abstain, only to pick up the bottle the next day. Strange behavior, but not unfamiliar to me. How many mistakes can a person make before they begin to realize that there needs to be a change? How far to the bottom must a person fall before they ask for help or enter drug rehab? Unfortunately for some the answer is; pretty far.

Like any other disease, for the health of the individual the addiction needs to be treated. I have seen a few cases where people were able to quit their perspective drugs on their own, but only to relapse shortly after. Without a drug rehab and support groups their mental state will not have changed and nothing will be resolved. It is only a matter of time before they use again. People like to ask addicts why. Why do they continue to use when everything they have contact with turns into a nightmare? Some can answer honestly; others do not have a clue. It requires the ability to admit the problem to find the answer to the problem. The main thing people need to know about addiction is that it effects perfectly normal people and is quite common. We are not monsters…it is not contagious…and we did not choose to be this way. It is the way the cards have fallen and just another reality that needs to be dealt with; compassionately and honestly.