Do you believe that once addicted, always addicted?
Whether alcohol, drugs, gambling or any addiction, when you stop the act of your addiction, does that mean you are cured or is it arrested as long as replaced by something else? Please don't confuse obsession with addiction.
Yes once addicted always addicted. I stopped drinking in 2009 and believe me it is a battle each day to stay sober. I know if I have one sip of alcohol I will be right back to drinking everyday, so I will be an alcoholic for the rest of my life, but just won't drink it. It never just goes away. Alcohol is in my mind, but I have to keep that promise and that positive attitude to never drink again and that is exactly what I do to stay sober as well as write every night about alcoholism.
Having studied and worked on this closely for over 30 years, I see several stages in the process of entering into, and recovering from, addiction.
Everyone is, to some degree, at risk of addiction. But some are much more at risk than others. And some are more at risk of one particular addiction (say alcohol) than others. (By the way, I believe that three separate things exist, obsession, behavior addiction, and substance addiction. But to meet your terms of the conversation, I'll talk only about substance addiction.)
Say someone realizes, "I am an alcoholic" and stops drinking. This person is still addicted, even if he never takes another drop. The intense desire is there.
Many people substitute one addiction for another. This can be healthy. Crack cocaine to alcohol is a step up. Alcohol to coffee is another step up. Then maybe the person becomes a wacky health food addict, but is still an addict.
If, in addition to dropping a particular addiction, the person goes seriously and deeply into rehab and a 12-step (or similar) program, a person can definitely, over time, loosen up those cravings, increase self-discipline, and *reduce* the addictive tendency. For almost everyone, this is as far as it goes.
So, for most people who have been addicted abusers of substances, it is best to stay with the 12-step language, "I'm me, and I'm an alcoholic. It has been 23 years, 2 months, and 5 days since I last took a drink." (You get the idea.)
But I have met a few people who find that, after a dozen or more years of 12-step, this is a limiting identity. With many years of deep spiritual and psychological work, it may be best to let go of the "addict" identity. I encourage such people (and many others) to follow The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, a program modelled on 12-step programs, but for recovering artistic creativity beyond addiction. And, at this point, it may be possible to say, "I'm Sid, a human being. Like all other people, I can be an addict. But it's been a long, long time."
On a personal note, I am fortunate enough not to have landed in any of the classic substance addictions. But I was addicted to foods that I was allergic to that made me quite sick. And now, following the steps described above, I can truly say that, looking deeply at my thoughts and feelings, the cravings are gone.
I think your term "cravings" fits perfectly with my word "obsession". I was consumed by the thoughts of how to get my next drink or financing my habit. That was the 24 hr. obsession. Those subside in time. Good response. Thank You.
Technically, cravings are the mental and emotional thoughts of desire that lead to addictive behaviors and substance addictions. Obsessive thoughts are similar, only they lead only to more thinking (obsession) not to self-harmful action (addiction).
Depends upon the personality. When I stopped smoking, I would stop and then start again. It took several years for me to finally internalize that I was not a smoker and after that it never bothered me again. I do know some people that have quit smoking and even after years of going without a cigarette still look longingly at a pack when they see it.
So no, I do not believe, once addicted, always addicted is for everyone.
Addiction is very complicated. Sometimes
the addictive substance changes the brain chemistry so that you always have the addiction and must not use the addictive substance ever again. You also may have a brain defect causing the addiction. My father had an addictive personality and was an alcoholic. He fell and had brain surgery which took away the addiction.
I'm very glad for your father. I've seen too many sad cases where brain injury had the opposite effect, leaving addiction incurable.
God works in mysterious ways, don't he? Bless you and your dad.
In my counselling experience with alcohol and drug addicts I can honestly say that majority of my clients just replace one type of addiction with other, but if it is less harmless it is still bonus, don't forget even coffee is addictive and how many of us belong to that category?
As a person in long-term recovery with almost 25 years of abstinence based recovery, I had to make a decision based on my use, abuse and addiction to multiple substances and honestly determine the negative outcomes from continued use or reverting back to use. Therefore, I would have to say for me in answering your question as it's phrased, that I remain addicted though not using.
Given that I have several cousins and two daughters in recovery as well, the studies and literature on genetics has proven to be accurate for my family. Therefore, I do not risk taking things labeled, “harmful if taken in excess” or something with a Surgeon General’s warning. For me, that is precautionary, not unlike a diabetic checking out the sugar content, or an individual on a diet referring to the carb count.
However, I do not believe in leading descriptions of myself as addict. It is not a form of denial of one aspect of me; it is simply that I am so much more and less than an addict.
I opened and ran an award winning women’s residential facility from 1990-2011 and used strength based approaches so that the women could move beyond “just an addict, always an addict.” The stigma was in some ways more painful in the south, where motherhood is second only to sainthood, so many of these women faced a double bind as addicted mothers, versus recovering mothers.
Again, it does not negate the fact that addiction to substances is a part of their make-up, but that they are doing and becoming more than the stereotype.
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