A Different Perspective on Addiction
Let’s get real for a minute. The majority of the articles we post on here written to make you laugh, but primarily to educate you on making better lifestyle decisions. This article takes on a somewhat darker tone than is typical for YB, but our mission hasn’t changed. If you or anyone you know might be struggling with addiction, take a minute to read this, because chances are you’ll come across drug abuse situations early in your college career. Here’s a look at reframing the stereotypical “addict” scenario.
Addiction. The word is surrounded in negativity. Rightfully so. In no sense is addiction to be considered healthy. A mental or physical dependence on anything other than that which is required to live is a detriment. Addiction is immediately associated with drugs, gambling and a plethora of other debilitating things and activities. We label these substances and activities as addictive and warn all about their sinister ability to rope us in.
Looking Beyond The Word
Today however I want to pose addiction in a different light. Rather than the substance or the action being addictive, I propose addiction lies solely within the individual. Nobody pays attention to the millions that drink alcohol functionally and do not abuse it. Nobody talks about the people who tried methamphetamine once and never approached the drug again. We see addicts losing their lives to many a substance or throwing their livelihood out the window to an addictive habit. But at the same time we see people who engage in these habits once. Very rarely. Or sometimes with very controlled but frequent usage. If these things are addictive, what was different for the gambling addict $50,000 dollars in debt opposed to the bi weekly slots player who leaves after he lost his allotted $100? Is addiction defined by severity? Frequency?
The answer, I find, is singular and simple. Addiction is real and undeniable. But within every individual lies the ability to beat it. People who are prone to addiction and are consumed by it, lack bonds. I’m not talking about a financial loan here. A bond by definition is a connection or tie to another object. Also a restrain or tie to prevent something from drifting away from that which it is held to. Taken slightly less literally, we often refer to bonds as a strong connection to something or someone that goes beyond the physical medium. The most important bonds we have keep us tied to reality and our lives. These include our bonds to family, friends, our jobs, home, significant other, hobbies. These bonds we have are what keep us happy, healthy and living what one could call “a good life”. When these are in place there is so little need or room for drugs, harmful activities and any other action or object that could be considered addictive.
Changing Your View
I urge you to look to those you know either personally or are aware of, that are addicts. Look beyond the negative stereotype of an addict and the substance they use. If you look hard enough, I guarantee within ever user or participant in addictive fare, there was a prior destruction of a bond. A family member lost. A couple’s relationship failed. A home foreclosed. These addictions do not form from the blue, there is clear reason as to why an individual chooses to engage in these habits and continue to do so. The bond that was broken is not always very clear. For some it may be a bond seen as unimportant to others. But what matters is that the bond was important to the individual. From feelings of inadequacy and uselessness to unemployment and mounting debt. From the loss of a beloved pet to the thralls of depression following being cheated on. Any of these and more could push someone to seek euphoria in the form of a drug.
One could argue that these substances and activities are scientifically proven to be physically addictive. They would be correct. Many drugs and other addictive habits can be shown to produce physical dependence. Often the body will crave the dopamine rush or chemical changes that the habit will provide. But the truth is that the dependence needs to knock on a door before it gets in to you. Before that physical/mental craving receives its desire, you need to let it in. Food, water, sleep and air. All are the most basic and essential human addictions. Our body craves it without us ever needing to tell it to. If we deny it of its craving, it will tell us in numerous physical and mental ways. These “addictions” are the strongest of all as they are directly entwined to our livelihood. And yet, we are able to stave off these cravings. People can disregard sleep for days at a time to finish a project at work. An individual cutting weight for months can deny their body the maintenance calories its brain screams for. Eventually these cravings must be met of course, but that’s because we will die if we don’t, so evolution has created that “addiction” to stay. The point to take away however is that the craving involved in addiction can be avoided. Push the craving for a drug away long enough and it will subside.
What You Can Do
For all this talk of mental fortitude there is a truth that sometimes it take more. There are more than one substance out there which suffering withdrawals from can be fatal. Do not ever downplay the importance of properly given medical and professional help. At the same time do not downplay the strength of ones will or your ability to help them find theirs again. Remember what keeps us grounded and moving forward. In those things you’ll find ways to bring an individual back on track. In those things you can create a life for yourself and help others avoid addiction in the first place.
Addiction needs to be looked at under a new light. Addicts of any kind were people before their abuse and still are during it. Often they are looked at as less of a person, akin to a feral animal searching for its next meal. Next time see through that exterior. Realize you’re looking at a person who lost something. It is in this manner that we can fight addiction better. By reforming the bonds an individual lost. Not pumping them full of other harmful substances to combat their current physical dependency. Not continued sessions in a group or home telling them they’re less of a person than anyone else. Both of these can be done in a more constructive and healthy manner. I believe looking at addiction in this manner can help to prevent it, promoting people to create and hold these bonds spoken of. Let’s change our view on substances, by realizing that addiction stars and ends with us.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, call the National Helpline, open 24/7/365 and 100% confidential.
Feel free to ask us anything in the comments section. Between all of us at YB, we’ve seen a lot, and are pros at getting out of bad situations.