First, let me say I am not a doctor nor is this a scientific study. I am basing this on my personnel observations and experiences and any conclusion is my personal opinion. I changed the names of some to protect their anonymity. This is perhaps too personnel to post but I am going to do it anyway. Addiction is a hot button issue with many professional and amateurs willing to weigh in on the topic.
Growing up the only thing I knew about addiction was it was some horrible thing effecting people in the city. My dad’s addiction to alcohol was just an abstract with no context to my life with him living sever states away. I did not connect drug addiction with alcoholism or other forms of addiction. Other addictions seemed to be an excuse such as “don’t blame me for sleeping around I’m addicted to sex.” Then I met Jack.
Jack is the brother of a friend. Jack defied the concept of addiction I had. He was (and as far as I know is ) addicted to almost everything he does. In some cases it was a need to be the best. When he lifted weights he had to do steroids because he had to be the best, when trying drugs he had to do coke because it was the best. Even in his religious beliefs when he went to Jesus he had to go all the way (evangelize) adding it into everything he did. Most of all when he drank he had to drink to excess.
Jack had a cycle.
1. First he convinces himself there is nothing wrong about one drink (or drug).
2. Then he starts drinking which leads to more drinking.
3. Then he does something while drunk that is stupid (usually driving).
4. Being Jack he is always eventually busted (usually in some comic way).
5. First it is the police at fault with him doing nothing wrong.
6. Then he turns to his faith. He dives head first into it preaching to everyone how their problems are because they (unlike him) have not embraced God.
7. Through his groups he eventually convinces himself it was not any addiction.
8. And finally he convinces himself there would be nothing wrong with one drink.
Jacks cycle showed me that addiction is more than just one thing. It also helped me see my own problem with food. Now I would be one of the first people to laugh when someone would say “I am addicted to food.” After Jack’s family abandoned him (after many attempts to help him with his many different DWIs) I found myself helping him after his latest DWI by driving him to his AA meetings. As a child of an alcoholic I found it difficult listening to the reasons (or at the time I felt them to be excuses) for drinking and how it hurt their families. Very few saw the hurt they were causing themselves. It made me look at what I was doing with my life. Looking at my daily life I found I was eating more than just the three meals a day. I would eat even when I was not hungry. Even now as I type this I am tossing back little squares of dark chocolate. I could say I eat to fight off depression or I turned my potential alcoholism into another type of addiction. According to popular opinion children of addicts are more likely to be addicted. Or I could say I eat out of habit or boredom. Like a person with an addiction to drugs or alcohol I spend a lot of time thinking about food. I plan meals, plot ways to get what I want (especially if it was not good for me like fast food or chocolate). When things where bad I would buy and eat an entire pack of candy bars (6 full bars) at once. As a child (5th or 6th grade) I would eat a 20 piece chicken nuggets 2 large fries (mine and my mother’s), a cheeseburger, and a large chocolate milkshake.
My conclusion from all this is that people can have an addictive mentality. They are prone to become addicted to anything and possible everything they do. Like that Billy Joel song these people go to extremes. These people don’t have the ability to moderate their lives. I also came to the obvious conclusion that you can’t help people who either don’t see they have a problem or are unwilling to take the steps help themselves.
I did not believe in the concept of the gateway drug until hearing how people started with the two most quoted gateway drugs alcohol and marijuana and how they eventually (in a need for a bigger high) when on to harder drugs such as coke or heroin ( I preferred diet Coke). An AA meeting can open the eyes of a person in this matter even if he or she is not an alcoholic.
I tried to help Jack. I took him to his meetings when he could not drive. I helped him “fill” his time when he would have been alone with all-day video football game marathons and dinner with my family to help him during times he would be thinking about drugs. In the end when it was time for him to cycle again he would say he knows best. I don’t speak with him anymore (part of this story I am not talking about because I don’t want to reveal who he is in case someone I know reads this. As if they would not recognize the story). Jack was actually a family member, but I also considered him a friend.
Do you have an addictive mentality or are addicted to something (either traditional as in drugs and alcohol) or the addictions? Or do you not believe in this concept?