Addiction

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 89
It is always hard to talk about addiction. Society conditions us to believe it is a personal failing. People who don't share our particular addiction fail to understand why we do what we do. Just that, alone, makes us feel lonely and loneliness breeds helplessness and stress. These two create a vicious spiral that only drives us back to our addiction. We haven't even touched upon what this does to our sense of self-esteem. The moment we feel worthless we stop caring and when we stop caring we stop truly living.

All of this is bad. Persistent stress changes the micro-structure of the brain and changes behavior. Sometimes this locks us into behavioral patterns we can't escape from without professional help. At other times it simply means we need to take a different approach. What I place here is a suggestion of how that approach can be put together and can be made to work. Before I even broach it however consider that addiction, in itself, while increasingly regarded as a neurobiological issue, also has a genetic root. Alcoholism, for example, has a genetically-led predisposition. So does obesity. But genetics tell only half the story. Given the fact that most of us can become dependent on alcohol or use food as a 'feel-good' escape hatch or even go down paths where harder substances are involved, it becomes apparent that addiction is also affected by our environment and our own sense of self (our 'situation').

In its most simple state addiction of any kind is a coping mechanism to experienced stress. We can all cope with some stress. But when the stress we experience exceeds our own personal stress tolerance level we seek ways to avoid it. Now I know this may sound like weakness but it is the brain's natural response to protect itself. In my day job, in the very recent past, I had to interview a former SAS (British Special Forces) operative. They're about as mentally and physically tough as they come. He told me that in the middle of a firefight, as he dove into a depression in the ground to avoid bullets coming his way, he found himself curled in the fetal position, in full army kit with a weapon in his hand and bullets whistling overhead, thinking that the thing he wanted most was to be at home, with his mum, getting tucked into bed as a little kid.

Obviously he had the presence of mind o snap out of this daydreaming and get on with his mission but this is a telling example of a brain under stress in a life-or-death situation, trying to, briefly in this case, escape the stress of the moment. Everything neurobiological has a physical component. We may turn to sugar for the rush and sense of comfort it gives us. We may drink. We may sleep and drink. We may sink into a pattern of behavioral comfort. All we are seeking to do is escape the stress we are feeling. Maybe the sense of inadequacy it engenders. Perhaps the fear that we can't deal with this.

There are two things o keep in mind here: First, none of us is immune. Those of us who don't slip into addictive or self-destructive behavior either don't experience sufficient stress to lead us to it or have already worked out how to deal with it. Second, to deal with the urge to indulge in something that does us harm or to deal with the urge to engage in self-destructive behavior we need some help. A means of sharing the load.

To successfully deal with such stress we all need to know who we are. I know this sounds easy. It isn't. With the exception of The Hive, perhaps, where we choose our name and avatar, in the world at large we are known by a name that was given to us and we do jobs that have been picked for us by the degree to which we were encouraged to or dissuaded from, educating ourselves. Most of our behavior is guided by the expectation of our immediate family, friends and social circle and further reinforced by the expectations of the society we live in. If we strip all of that away there is, usually, not much left to see as 'us'.

This is where self-awareness and self-knowledge come in. And they start with the willingness to accept our faults even as we strive to improve ourselves and be kind to who we are right now. Anger, revulsion, dejection at our self and a deep sense of personal failure are what psychologists call deflective behavior that projects judgement instead of looking at root causes.

If we drink or eat to excess, for instance, it is obvious that we don't do it to slake our thirst (or loosen our social inhibitions) or satisfy our hunger. Instead we use alcohol and food as a means to an end. We numb the pain we feel as a result of a stressor we experience so we can cope and then we are angry at ourselves for having shown such weakness, which further undermines our self-worth. It is always revealing and beneficial to start with "why?" Why am I feeling like this? Why am I engaging in this behavior? Followed by "what". What are the things that trigger me? What makes me feel so stressed that I think I cannot cope unless I do this?

The smart playbook for dealing with addiction starts with:

  1. I am worthy. None of us are here by accident. Each of us is the result of many complex circumstances and other people's efforts and actions and even things that causes us pain in the past or made us feel harassed and unloved have their place in who we are because they forced us to be stronger in order to survive.
  2. I can do this. It doesn't matter what 'this' is. You must feel that you can cope with the pressure. You can deal with the stress. You can get through the pain or the rejection or the emotional distress and come out the other side. You must know it is not easy. It cannot be immediate. But you must feel that it is within your capability given enough resources and time.
  3. I am not alone. If you're alone, you will fail. Maybe not straightaway. Maybe not at the first hurdle, but fail you will. You will, at some point, face a convergence of stress and personal difficulty, fatigue, weakness and complex external factors and it will be impossible to overcome on your own. The SAS officer, I interviewed, told he pulled himself together in that firefight because he knew he was responsible for the lives of his men who expected him to take charge and issue orders. He knee he wasn't alone. He knew his fear was natural. It didn't mark him as inadequate or weak. He knew that he could do this because he'd trained for it. That is knowing who you are. It's acceptance of yourself and self-empowerment in the same instant. Find people you can talk openly to. Support others in their journey. Share your difficulties. Experiment with what works to lift you up when you're down and share that too. Never feel you don't matter or you do not belong.
  4. Exercise. We all exercise here to varying degrees. So it becomes obvious to us that it helps. But we also have studies that show it does. Exercise is a stressor in itself. If we can exercise, even when we don't feel like it. If we can share our difficulties with exercise and find our way around them and through them and learn to share that journey, we're really practicing for the much harder difficulties life inevitably presents us with. Working out and eating right are battles we fight with our self. If we can win those we then can develop the framework we need to win much bigger ones.
I hope this helps.
 

JohnStrong

Well-known member
Guardian from Vancouver, BC
Posts: 165
"No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. -Socrates"
Thanks for this great post. It inspired me to look up the history of Alcoholics Anonymous, which has it's own fascinating origin story and a now considerable legacy of addicts who have fully recovered.
 

lofivelcro

Well-known member
Hunter from the sticks
Posts: 253
"Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today"
To share some personal experiences...
I was addicted to "harder substances", most notably cocaine in various forms for a couple of years, with some breaks inbetween and some other drugs thrown in, when I "needed" a break or couldn't find a supplier. Thankfully, money wasn't a problem and I never had to resort to illegal stuff because of this, but it surely wasn't the highlight of my life.
The triggering point for me was
a) I felt rootless and not belonging since I was thrown out of home at age 16, despite having a lot of luck after that, but still, I never felt at home any where and
b) working in gastronomy, which to me, was never pleasant. I hated working in restaurants, but somehow, I ended up there always after a certain point in my life.
Gastronomy is rife with drug abuse, no matter the country, it seems. I got mixed with the wrong people and... well. It helped me, or so I thought. It eliminated some issues I had, gave me "company" and a feeling of belonging, while still knowing that I didn't.
Eight years ago, I quit for good when I almost died in an accident because of a paranoia incident. I had loved ones then. And the chance to make changes and eliminate the triggers from my life. I went cold-turkey with the help of someone with medicinal expertise.
I quit gastronomy for good. We moved countries, away from cities and into a rural area. I eliminated two, three factors: Gastronomy, large cities which I hated, and I found a home and a place in life.
I've been clean for eight years now. I still have cravings now and then, but without the two big triggers, I can deal with them. I have someone who has a tight grip on me and whom I trust when push comes to shove.
I think getting away from those things that harm us and seduce us is key to keep the cravings at bay. Finding meaningful things to do. Having things to lose. I never had all those things. Now I have, and I can deal.
Just quitting doesn't help in the long run, I think. Finding the triggers and eliminating does. Finding replacements does. Having someone you can lose does.
That's my opinion and my experience. Others may vary, of course.
 

Fitato

Well-known member
Mystic from Kansas
Posts: 68
"Hello"
Hello, wonderful thread. I've never struggled with addiction myself, but I am biologically an alcoholic - I have whatever genes make you prone to alcoholism. Both my parents were alcoholics, and most of my grandparents were as well, and I have heard that alcoholic genes can get stronger with every generation. When I used to drink, I would always do it to get drunk, and I would binge until I passed out. Thankfully, I never needed to drink alcohol. If I was ever concerned with how often I was drinking, I would think "Can I go without alcohol for x amount of time?" (be it a couple weeks, or a month or two). I would then think "Yes, I can", and proceed to not drink for that amount of time just to be on the safe side. Worked really well for me. But again, binging was very impossible to stop, once I got drunk I would do anything I could to be more drunk.

Both my parents were also drug addicts, but thankfully I haven't done anything other than weed. I used to be quite eager about giving shrooms or LSD a try, but I've met a couple folks who have done them and I really didn't like those individuals much or how obsessed they seemed with these drugs, so it's kind of put me off from wanting to try them after all.

Now, the main reason I wanted to post in here is because I am currently dating a guy who does weed on a daily basis. I am fine with weed as a social thing, perhaps once a week or however be you, but he is high 24/7, and it concerns me. I know he is struggling with mental health problems, and I fear that he is completely dependent on weed. It made me a little upset to find out he had been high on our first and second dates (and naturally, all of the rest, but I found out on the second date, so the rest weren't a surprise). I feel like daily marijuana use is a dealbreaker for me, but I've never been in this position before. He's a very kind person, and he's never done anything wrong to me, but the daily weed use just makes me feel so off. He's also very quiet when we first get together, and it isn't until several hours in (presumably when the high wears off) that he becomes more engaging with me and much better company to be around. I feel it's no different from being constantly tipsy. I'm just not sure what to do here. We are considering becoming official/exclusive, but I want to talk to him about my concerns with his weed use before that's even on the table.
 

huma

Well-known member
Alchemist from Israel
Posts: 93
Hey @Fitato, I'm hesitant at replying since every situation is unique, but I will take a stab anyway..

It really seems that this is bothering you quite a lot and occupies your thoughts. In such cases I usually find it best to seek a route to calm my thoughts.
It might be talking to the guy you're dating about this openly.
It might be talking to a close friend and sharing your thoughts until you "get them sorted out" and decide how to proceed.
It might be to find a way to come to terms with that, if that's what you wish.

Just having constant nagging thoughts seems like a tough situation to be in...

I know I don't offer any particular advise, since it seems a bit off in this case. However, having a quiet mind in whatever path you choose is, for me, essential.
Some of these actions might raise hard truths about yourself or this guy. They might end the relationship. There is no silver bullet :-(

Wishing you the best of luck and hugs.
 

Lastindze

New member
Posts: 1
I have a genetic addiction to alcohol, I admit it. But I also accept that I behaved like a spineless idiot for many years, blaming my genetics. I couldn't handle stressful events, so I started lashing out. I think I could avoid it if I had gone to a psychologist or distanced myself from my friends. The hardest part is that these people want to help you in the beginning. But you push everyone away with your behavior, so after a few months, you don't have a person left who would tolerate your drunken delusions. I detoxed at https://fherehab.com/detox/, and now I'm a new person. But I had to socialize anew - new city, new friends, new job. A bottle of whiskey was never worth it.
 
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mavie

Well-known member
from germany
Pronouns: she/her
Posts: 202
I have a genetic addiction to alcohol, I admit it. But I also accept that I behaved like a characterless idiot for many years, justifying my weakness as genetics.

People do not get addicted because they are weak.

Addiction is to one half baked into your genes. Not addiction itself but the predisposition for it. If certain conditions fit it's a lot more likely to end up addicted for some people genetically while others just stop their 'phase' or something like that. As far as i know that's still what science agrees upon.

The other half is usually to a smaller part socialization, meaning it's easy to develop an addiction from substances that are legal, easily available and fully accepted and if you grew up in a surrounding where (heavy) drinking is considered normal.

The bigger and most significant part of that second half is almost always some form of self-medication. A way of dealing with some form of unbearable situation one has no other coping mechanism for, for certain reasons. And lets be honest, it works quite well. For the moment. But it can kill you on the long run. And yes the addiction itself makes you weak. But not the other way around.
There are always multiple ways of dealing with situations. Drinking is an easy but not a sustainable one. So, what are you going to do about it? Or have done already?

Welcome to the Hive. :hi:
 
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