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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Heart of Addiction, part 1

For more than a few people, breaking the active addiction is all that's needed.  The original creator of Naltrexone Confidential is a great example of this.  Whatever originally led to the addiction, at this point the addiction itself is all that's wrong.  Breaking that single, powerful chain is all that's required to be content and satisfied.

For others, the things which led us into addiction are still in place once that horrible chain is snapped.  Some find that the addiction simply moves to a different focus -- for example, an alcoholic who becomes a non-alcoholic may one day realize that he is gambling to excess.

I'm currently reading The Heart of Addiction.  Although I regard myself as cured in TSM terms, I've noticed some displacement of addictive behavior to a different focus (junk food in my case), and I also just like reading about different paradigms.  I'm a curious gal.

I haven't finished the book, but one of the things that struck me quickly was the author's (correct) observation that the pressure eases as soon as we decide to engage in the addiction, not when we actually begin.  In my case, e.g., there was no alcohol in the house and I had a bad craving, and the craving eased once I'd made the decision to head to the convenience store.  I didn't actually have to have beer in hand and bottle top off.

This doesn't contradict TSM.  Once I had made the decision to drink, I was no longer struggling against the Alcohol Deprivation Effect.  We all know that physiological addiction is the least of it, so in a very real sense I was engaging in the addiction as soon as I had decided to do so.

This guy has a somewhat different theoretical model, though -- he thinks the real relief comes from the "fuck it" decision because it's an expression of power.  In his view, the addiction is a sort of ill-advised compromise between what we really want to do but can't (e.g., punch the boss) and doing nothing at all.

This reminds me of the "life process" theory of ending addiction.  Most people emerge from addictions quite naturally, over time (unless of course we shove them into AA to learn powerlessness and the rest).  And it's the young who so often have little real power, isn't it?  Even when they are legally adults, they're often stuck in the role of a helpless child -- they may be financially dependent on their parents, socially treated as a child . . . in fact, typing this sentence reminded me how my family treated me when I was newly fledged, and bam -- rage.

I think he may be on to something here.  Being stuck in bad situations we can't change may lead us to lash out, and addiction may be one way of lashing out.  It's that "fuck it" decision which, in this paradigm, is vital.  The addiction is not a good choice as a coping mechanism, but it is a coping mechanism.  It keeps us from curling into a whimpering ball of helplessness.

I haven't finished the book.  I'll probably keep writing up observations on my blog.

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