Let's talk about addiction.
First off, a "proper" definition. Starting with the root word, addict.
latin word addictus, past participle of addicere to favor.
1 : to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually
or obsessively <addicted to gambling>
2 : to cause addiction to a substance in
And now, addiction:
: the quality or state of being addicted <addiction to reading>
2 : compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming
substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal;
broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.
Wow. "to devote or surrender oneself
to something." Isn't that what people do in religion? They surrender to the will of a deity? I'm not saying drugs and deities
are the same, but there is a parallel there.
It's a little scary, seeing that in black and white: those casual words
that objectively describe something as intense as an addiction.
Because you see... everyone is an addict.
fraid so: whether it's drugs or Coca-Cola or even comic books, we are all slaves to something. You can even be addicted to
a concept or physical act. Like love, sex, extreme sports, death... the list goes on and on.
We're cranky if we don't
get it, or we get tremors, or whatever. The point is, we MUST have it or ELSE.
Let's take smoking, for example.
not using it to pick on smokers. I'm really not. But it's an addiction I can relate to, because I used to smoke. Yes, I said
used to. I quit six years ago. But while Major Tom had me by the figurative balls, I was smoking a pack a day of anything
from Marlboro Lights to unfiltered Camels. An impressively deplorable feat. I knew I was hooked: you don't have to have a
Ph.D. in psychology to figure these things out. Did I care? No. Not really. Not for a few years. And here's why, and it's
the same reason anyone with an addiction often seems apathetic or resigned to their addiction.
Addictions are damn
Ok, you're thinking: that's easy to understand. People wouldn't get hooked on stuff otherwise. But
addictions are bad, and everyone knows that. So you just give up whatever you're hooked on, right? Then you're free. Simple.
Ideally, yes. But the reality is, it isn't that simple. At least not for most people.
Addictions start out
feeling good. You get a rush, a high.. some sort of physical and/or mental thrill. And you want more. At those early stages,
when it would be easiest to walk away from something, I'd say 95% of people don't.
Because that cigarette, bottle,
one night stand or poker bet is filling a void. A strong void. Addictions give us something to do when we're bored, lonely,
stressed. Is it any wonder that they're so powerful?
Now. Having delved a bit into why addictions are so...well...
addictive, here's where my ranting comes in.
I do want to say this first, though, in defense of all us junkies: not
every addiction is dangerous or overly harmful. If you're addicted to lemon drops, as long as you brush your teeth, check
your blood sugar and aren't gaining ten pounds from eating them, that's not so bad on the big addiction-o-meter. What I care
about are the big addictions, the ones that DO cause a lot of damage: smoking, alcoholism, drugs, anger.
addictions take other people along for the ride.
Addictions like these don't just hurt the addict. No matter what
any smoker, freebaser or alcoholic thinks.
They hurt loved ones. They hurt friends. They even hurt strangers. Because
people who love addicts and care about them watch as they puff and sip their lungs, liver, kidneys, brain cells, etc. away.
They watch as second hand smoke fills the air. People crossing a street watch as someone begs for change to buy a 40 oz. beer.
People get shot for a bag of cocaine.
I have a friend whose father is addicted to anger. She had the bruises to prove
it whe she was younger.
My mother is on an oxygen tank now, because she smoked for about 35 years of her life. She
wheezes and gasps like a fish out of water if she doesn't use it. It makes me want to cry to look at her.
fuck could anyone possibly think that doesn't affect anyone but themselves?
When I was a smoker, I knew damn well
that it upset my friends to watch me throwing my life away. But I had to realize it for myself.
There's the rub, folks.
Addicts have to WANT to quit. They might not give a shit how it affects them. Or maybe they do, but are afraid to try and
give the habit up. In some cases, like with heroin or cocaine, it's dangerous to just stop, even if you could. Regardless,
they have to make the choice.
Addictions can be overcome. It isnt hopeless. Just hard as hell to do.
I decided to quit smoking, here's why. Plain and simple.
I was tired of paying some company to let me kill myself.
I was tired of spending the money.
I was tired of being dependent.
I wanted to live a longer, healthier life.
I have asthma, so I REALLY had no fucking business smoking to begin with.
I didn't want a hole cut into my throat so I
could breathe when I was 50.
I didn't want to end up like my mother.
So I quit.
Right, some of you are
thinking. Just like that.
Yes. Just like that.
Don't think for a MINUTE I'm saying: 'oh, it was so easy, addicts
are such losers, I'm gonna do a Superior Dance.' It WASN'T easy at first. And since I quit, there have been a few occasions
where I took a drag off a cigarette, or felt like I wanted one. But other than that, I've held off my nicotine demons.
can do it if they want to bad enough. Saying you're addicted is not a reason. It's an excuse. And I've been there, so don't
think I don't understand it.
Now, there are folks who, as I mentioned earlier, just don't give a damn. They don't
care if they're killing themselves slowly, or how other people hurt to watch it. And that's their right and their choice.
I don't have to like it. Just accept it. And it's my right to say what I think about it. It makes me sad, because
I have friends who smoke, and a friend who is an alcoholic. I hope they give it up someday.
Recently, I decided to
give up a longtime addiction of mine: sweets. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a chocolate junkie. But I've called off the cookies
and candy. That might not sound like much comparitively, and in a lot of ways, it isn't. But it's an addiction nonetheless.
It's been three days, and it hasn't been easy. My body is screaming for a candy bar. It is bitching about the absence of the
complex carbs and sugars it's used to getting from me. But my body will adapt.
I'm sure I'll find something else to
be hooked on. All we do as human beings is exchange one set of complications for another. But maybe it'll be something better.