Addiction is variously considered a response to inner demons, a lifestyle
choice, a genetic quirk, a chemical imbalance, medical or
psychiatric disorder - a distorted expression of spiritual
longing - or a failure of moral will.
Addiction is a topic on which everybody
seems to hold opinion – but on which few agree.
Some people seem more vulnerable to addiction
than others. Those without it have difficulty to understand
those who do. To those who suffer with addition –
those without it are equally hard to understand.
Genetic and/or biological tendencies most
certainly play a role. The events of early life - of family
and social learning - may either defend or promote the likelihood
of drug abuse and addiction. The widespread availability
of symptomatic prescription drugs has produced an increasingly
common path to addiction.
Differing risk factors and life experience
- accidents of chance and access - combine and mix to create
an infinite variety of lives overtaken by the condition
But often much misunderstood – is
that true addiction is a condition distinct from its many
possible reasons for occurrence.
Addiction is a condition best understood
as similar to a heart attack.
Most of us know that there are many risk
factors for coronary artery disease and eventual heart attack.
These may include genetic tendencies, learned habit, obesity,
a smoking addiction or cholesterol abnormalities.
But once a heart attack has occurred –
something different and distinct has now come to be. A heart
attack has its own symptoms and pathology. It has new ways
to destroy health. It has a life and a course of its own.
And it requires specific treatment to counteract its dangers.
To stop smoking after a heart attack –
or to start on treatment for high cholesterol – are
wise ways to minimize the likelihood of future problems.
But they do not change the fact that a heart attack has
occurred – and that your condition of health is now
ever different than before.
All of this is similar for the condition
of addiction. Addiction develops from – but is distinct
from its risk factors for occurrence. It carries with it
a powerful and destructive life of its own – and is
requiring of specific measures to counteract its force.
The core and characteristic pathology
that distinguishes true addiction from what came before
– and from all other problems of drug use or abuse
– is compulsion.
There are many reasons why one may begin
to use a drug or a substance – and many other reasons
for the abuse of such drugs. But the core and defining feature
of true addiction - is a powerful, lingering and unexplainable
compulsion - to us a drug or to engage in a behavior - that
will dramatically alter your mental state and sense of feeling.
The compulsion to use drugs is tightly
associated with compulsion to run – to avoid and to
escape – away from any distress – and in pursuit
of a magical state of perfect being.
Compulsion may grow out of habit. But
compulsion is beyond habit. It has lost connection to any
reason why one begins to use - to drink, to run or to evade
in the first place. It arises from a place deeper in mind
and brain than logical reasoning or psychological meaning.
True addiction is a compulsive appetite
– a need for something and sometimes for anything
– that will satisfy a craving for a way out of my
self - and to a different state of feeling and of being.
Continuing to use when you do not really
wish to do so – or relapsing after all best intentions
to not due so – are hallmarks of compulsion and of
It is this compulsion that is so difficult
for others to appreciate – either in its lingering
persistence – or in its potential for destructive
force over the addicted person. Many still search for meaning
in compulsive behavior that has long lost connection to
meaning or to psychological motivation.
Recovery refers to a
process of learning to enjoy life – without the use
of alcohol or other substances that alter mind or feeling.
Recovery is specific treatment for the condition of addiction.
The principles and the ways of Recovery counteract the tendency
to act out with compulsive behaviors or relapsed use.
The process of recovery from addiction
may benefit from all sorts of medical and/or psychiatric
treatment. But a lasting recovery can never be manufactured
by any of these means. And all treatment and/or support
that is offered to one in addiction – may be measured
in its therapeutic utility – by its concordance with
the traditional principles and ways of Recovery.
The compulsion of addiction arises from
a deeper place in the mind and brain than logical reasoning
or psychological meaning. Recovery always requires a stepping
beyond reason – beyond selfish ego and the habits
of personal identity – and requiring an awakening
to those aspects of experience that are beyond self centered
wants and needs.
Addiction is a compulsive appetite for
more and more of whatever fills me with the feeling that
I desire at this moment in time. It is like a cancer of
self centered ego – wanting what it wants –
right now – at all cost and no matter what else.
Recovery is about learning that a healthy
life is lived from the inside out – and about finding
the means to make that possible.
SupportNet understands addiction as a
condition of raging compulsion and its countless consequences
– consequences to mind, brain, feeling, personhood,
family, vocation, health and spiritual experience.
And SupportNet understands Recovery as
the guiding principles and ways that counteract this compulsion
– and that set the stage for a renewed and healthy
The goal of SupportNet is to educate and
to empower your recovery from addiction.