What Is Addiction?

Generally people are motivated in life by two simple concepts– avoiding pain and seeking pleasure.  This avoidance / reinforcement instinct could be said to work for any rational living animal.  People stuck in addiction have learned that by repeating a behavior, they are either avoiding pain or gaining pleasure.  Addicts have learned that they can change feelings in a matter of seconds or minutes with chemicals.  Believe this…in the beginning, drugs make you feel “good” and that’s why people like to take drugs. Unlike cars, drugs are never returned to drug dealers because they don’t work.

Early on, using can provide a pleasure that is worth every potential risk of legal trouble, damaged health, losing friends / family, and paying large sums of money.  All these negative consequences are weighed against the positive pleasure of the high and must be justified as “smart” decisions by an addict.  Later on avoiding the pain of withdrawal or fear of life without drugs can continue the hopeless cycle.  Further, once in the drug game, addicts can rationalize behaviors that non-addicts cannot understand. Addicts reach a point where their drugs are no longer effective and still they cannot stop taking them; all while realizing, getting high is destroying their life.

In an addicted human being you see a series of symptoms that make you suspect that the person has a problem with drugs or at the very least, has poor ability in decision making.  The symptoms can be very mild for the person in the beginning phase or very severe for those in the chronic or latter stage. It’s important to make this point; addiction is the only disease that tells the person he / she doesn’t have a disease.

Anything that changes the way you feel can be addicting.  Drugs, gambling, video games, eating, sex, exercise, shopping, you name it. Taking drugs or eating excessively is only a symptom of a disease. Just like any other illness some people get sicker than others.  Some addictions are judged “worse” than others.  The successful workaholic is often praised.  In contrast, the addict busy purse snatching and prostituting is viewed in disgust.

Some of the symptoms you see in a drug addict or alcoholic look very similar to those found in psychotic mental illness.  Not surprising, many people with drug dependency end up in mental hospitals.  In fact, if you want to know who the addicts are in the mental institutions; just look around and see who is first in line when the nurse announces medication time.  The mentally ill patients have to be chased down and dragged to take their pills.  The addicts were at the window five minutes before medication time complaining about how long it’s taking.

I think a big reason why people don’t want to call it a disease is because it appears to give the person who’s addicted a “license” to get high.  After being told they have the illness, they could say, “I’m high again. See, I can’t help it, I have a disease!”

Well just because you have an illness does not give you the right to run around without treating it.  Especially when one addict can infect an innocent civilian, by just getting them high one time.  Think about it? It’s impossible to become addicted if you haven’t been given your first opportunity to use dope. However, even people an addict doesn’t directly infect can be hurt in other ways by their actions.  People with AIDS have a disease. Do they have the right to run around not treating it and doing things that can infect others?

The diagnosis of disease does not free someone from accountability.  Even mentally ill people are held accountable and responsible for bills they generate and the laws they break.  Hell, the U.S. government has legally executed mentally ill and retarded people. Addicts are fair game as well. Don’t forget that!

Addicts operate from a core of denial. Like magicians, they will use distraction and confusion to avoid being confronted or discovered. This worldview thrives when there are ample people around to blame or compare to. Parents, family members, bosses, children, peers, the economy, the weather, etc—“they are to blame for my situation!” Some addicts are so good at blaming others that “others” begin to blame themselves. Some addicts are so good at rationalizing and deflecting, that you might believe that they are just very “unlucky,” people rather than addicts.


CONDITION-Genetic / Psychological / Environmental / Social pre-disposition

-Symptoms just like a disease: Mental, Physical, Legal, and Social consequences that show up consistently in people who can’t get high or drunk successfully.

-Insurance billable model, AMA model, removes blame and it’s treatable

-Solution Þ Stop the cause of the disease (using), the symptoms (consequences) will go away



Name one symptom of addiction? The inability to get high successfully!


The good news is that an addicted person can change and become healthy.  Once someone becomes aware and educated about their illness, they can take responsibility and action. There is no simple shot or pill that can cure them.  In fact, the disease can only be put in remission.  It never fully goes away.  The sad truth is that the only successful treatment must be done by the patient themself.

What’s required is motivation.  The addict will need to be motivated in order to change.  After motivation the biggest step is asking for help.  At this point treatment can begin. The standard forms of treatment can vary. It may require weekly or monthly therapy, inpatient treatment, counseling, 12 step meetings, changes in friends, church attendance, and changes in lifestyle.  This requires significant commitment and is not easy.

However, no matter who calls or labels someone an addict, it doesn’t matter until they claim and accept the term for themselves.  Why? Because, if they don’t believe it, they won’t do anything about it! (Still, you don’t have to be a drug addict to benefit from not using drugs.)

SIDE NOTE: If someone you care about has a drug problem and it is affecting you, contact a professional or NARANON via phone or online (www.naranon.org). If you have a drug problem that is affecting you contact a professional or NA via phone or online (http://www.na.org) or Alanon and www.aa.org or intherooms.com.

Don’t be afraid to confront someone abusing chemicals.  Don’t be afraid to express your feelings in a healthy way. Don’t be afraid to get others involved. Mushrooms just like addiction, grow well on bullshit kept in the dark.

The noble truth is that addicts use drugs because of feelings.  This statement is so complete, succinct and sweetly generic I’ll type it again…Addicts use drugs because of feelings.

This is why if you ask an addict, “Who is your favorite old-school Star Trek Character?” They will respond, “SPOCK OF COURSE!”  They may not know why, but you do.  It’s simple, because Spock doesn’t feel.        –Addicts don’t like to feel.

Sometimes the hardest things learned are the least complicated!

So what is recovery? Well if a person was a drunken horse thief and he stopped drinking, the person is now a sober horse thief. Now that’s good, it’s abstinence and that’s progress. Indeed, you get a bronze medal. However recovery is different. It’s more sophisticated and it’s global. It’s the Gold medal. Recovery is an active change in attitudes, ideas, and behaviors. That’s why every recovering persons favorite rapper is Fifty-cent. (If I gave you a dollar and I got back two quarters, what did I get? CHANGE!) Change your furniture; change your phone numbers. Get rid of bad phone numbers and bad people. If you ate chocolate ice cream while you were getting high, eat vanilla ice cream in recovery.

It’s important to have a basic understanding of the motives in the rest of the non-addict world relating to drugs. Well, normal people don’t take such risks.  “Normals” decide not to chance becoming dependent on something or going to jail. Most people realize the problems of dope without the legal, social, physical, or monetary consequences jumping in their face.  To them the emotional and physical damage caused by using strong chemicals is just too dangerous.  Most humans will not even experiment with dangerous drugs. Normal people learn from other people’s mistakes, bypassing making their own. The majority of the world does not become addicted. They respect the consequences, they fear the drugs, they accept reality, and therefore don’t become drug addicts.

Even with all the consequences being described, some non-addicts and addicts alike will still use drugs.  The “highs” from powerful mood altering substances are extremely pleasurable and very seductive.  Always respect drugs and alcohol because they have no respect for you!

Did you really think I was going to let someone mess with my friends and family and get away with it? Seriously, anyone, anything, even addiction? You gotta’ be kidding. Call an ambulance, because Mr. addiction is about to get his ass kicked, knocked unconscious, and he doesn’t have medical insurance!