Three types of people
There are three types of people when it comes to a specific addiction. Never used, social user and the addict. I say a specific addiction because a person may not be addicted to one thing but very addicted to another. One of my main goals so far has been to point out that everyone can get something from the removal of addictive thinking on some level. The vast majority of people today have some addictive struggle on some level. For example a person a drinking problem but that doesn't mean that they are not over weight and struggling with a food addiction. A person who has an addiction to anger may not have an addiction to caffeine.
With that said I'll go back to the start. There are three types of people when it comes to a specific addiction, let use alcohol for example. The first kind of person has never drank. This person is not addicted and I call them doesn't use. Simple enough, the second person drinks socially and so I will refer to them as the social user. Finally, the third kind of person is an alcoholic and I will call them the addict.
I know that there are places where the line between social user and addict are blurry, the addict loves this fact. In any case hear me out. A sober person is in the doesn't use category. The goal of the addict is to find a away to move from the addict category to the social user category. The addict will try with everything they have to prove to others and themselves that they already are just social users. Only when the addict gives up on becoming a social user and accepts that they must choose to either remain an addict or move to the doesn't use category do they become free.
I would say after thinking about this now that the primary difference between the social drinker and the addict is the relational and emotional aspects to the consumption.
I, as an addict, very much think of alcohol the way I think about my ex wife, I miss the good times we had, I know she never really loved me and I know she is whispering "I'll never leave" to someone else. She was a liar and a cheat but I wanted to believe so bad.
When I meet another alcoholic is is like talking to someone who has dated an ex. Moderates do not have this relational emotional aspect a beer is a thing like a slice of pizza. For me alcohol was one of the great loves of my life.
I look back on it as a better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all type thing where I loved every drink I ever had and some times I would do anything to get one more kiss. As an alcoholic I know she is always there buty she hasn't changed.
Addiction is like an arcade game.
Imagine walking into an arcade with $20, there is a big bouncer at the door and he says admission is free, no cost to get in. You see some people standing in front of a game and every time they press a big red button they get shocked. That is strange you think but you move on and see a machine get $5 for nothing, the machine says in big letters and there is red button on it. So you reach out and press it and $5 comes out. You look around thinking this can't be right so you press it again $5. This is crazy you think and you start pounding on the button and five dollars keep coming out. Now you've got 30 or 40 five dollar bills and you feeling pretty good.
Then there is a small shock when you press the button but you still get the $5. Oh well it's worth it, you think. This keeps up and the shocks get a little bit worse but you hardly feel them because the money is piling up. You remember seeing other people standing in front of machines getting shocked, they looked foolish but their machines didn't pay money.
Time goes on and then all of a sudden a shock and no money. Try it again a shock and no money. Is the machine out, I'll try it one more time just to see, you press the button the shock is worse and then a $10 bill pops out. You've lost track of time now the shocks are bad and sometimes no money comes out but when it does it is always more. Eventually the money is few and far between but when you get money it is worth it. Eventually your hand is horribly damaged from the shocks that you physically can't press the button. So you decide to stop, you count your money you've got $2,500 plus the $20 you came in with. You are happy but you look at the time you have been up for 48 hours. You slide back into a corner and pass out from exhaustion.
When you wake up the money is gone all $2520.00. You can't believe it no money and your hand is still horribly mangled from the shocks. At this point you either leave with nothing but a mangled hand or decide to go back to the game and at least try to get your $20 back.
Through out this story the person has many opportunities to quit. Some people stop with the first shock others keep going. There are different types of people in different stages of addiction.
Wow, I haven't thought about addiction this way in a very long time. I forgot about the pull, hope that this time it will be different. Shame for getting into this mess to begin with. Anger at myself and others, my parents, life, god or whatever lead me here, for allowing this to happen.
It isn't going to be different the game will steal your money every time. You aren't smarter than it if you keep playing. You can only beat it by leaving it and learning to do one of the hardest things in life. CUT YOUR LOSSES.
Use the regret, the shame and the frustration that at the same time you are feeling those things you want to go back for one more.
This is so hard because it is an utterly hopeless place and if we embrace hopelessness once then hope can never innocently be trusted again. Its true. No way around it. The price of wisdom (quitting a destructive habit) is innocence (ignorance that it will ever be like it once was).
Quit things in life to teach yourself this lesson. You will grow up. You will make hard choices replacing hope with the knowledge that even if it doesn't work out you will be ok because you are strong and wise. No one who has never quit anything understands this type of victory in the same way that a person can learn all about how to climb mountain, every detail and have no idea what it is to conquer a mountain.
Most people never learn to fight. They avoid battles. The greatest battles in life are in own own minds with the pieces of us that are broken. Integrate yourself. How to bring peace to your mind win the war one battle at a time. Every mental victory matters the smaller it is the more important it is. Because no one who can't walk can run. Start walking.
Getting to the cause always involves pain. I heard it said once that pain is inevitable but suffering is not. Why pain? Pain can be the friction that happens with a change in direction. Pain can be focusing on the symptom and not the cause. Like many other concepts pain is information that something is out of balance. Pain is the feeling that comes when you touch a hot pan. It is important information that you need to stop our your hand have even worse physical problems. If we numb our hand we can touch the hot pan. We feel no pain but still get burned. A burn is a thing separate from the pain felt when burning takes place. Our nerves that allow us to feel pain are very important to our health. Simply by knowing what pain is we are able to know what it is not.
The goal of change cannot be to avoid pain. Avoiding pain is often the reason change cannot take place. The goal of change must be to avoid suffering. Suffering is long term pain doesn't have to be. Being enslaved to in addiction is suffering a long drawn out ache that doesn't go away. Pain can be a quick jolt, a shooting pain that makes up jerk away from something. The longer we avoid the pain that comes with change the longer we will suffer.
I have been thinking a lot about pain lately. It seems that pain is connected to fear. I recently heard it said "it can't kill you but it can convince you that it can kill you" For me the worst part of pain is the fear that it won't ever end. Some of this come from the fear based eternal damnation programming I got a as a child. In truth nothing lasts forever and our bodies are trying to acclimate all the time. We become desensitized to pain some even find pleasure in it. They like the sensation. it reminds them they are alive. I have been giving myself small controlled pains to grow. Exercise, heat, cold problem solving. Short pain to avoid long term pain. The solution is built into the problem. Pain is unavoidable but we can use it to our advantage...not easy but needed. if you don't do it the universe will.
Two types of thinking
I clearly remember people telling me you should stop before you get addicted. I had the first kind of thinking. I don't have to stop because I'm not addicted. So I didn't stop. Then I woke up one day and someone told me I should stop and I realized I couldn't stop because I was addicted. That is when my thinking changed to the second type. I started telling myself that I was an addict and that was my new reason to not stop.
The reality is that with both those ways of thinking have one consistent theme use. Addiction exists where ever use exists. The thinking may change but the use is the same.
Straight from not enough to too much. I still think of this often as critical mass as I put it is something that is known will come but only after it has happened. We know a cup can only hold so much water but which drop will be the one to make it spill over. Of coarse you know after it happens and then the temptation is to say too late instead of learning and turning back. Its never too far until it is and the line is always changing. The best comics can figure out what is too inappropriate at a specific time and go right up to that line without crossing. The line moves all the time so the art is to navigate it. the same could be said of accountants in regards to taxes. In turn all of life is this way. the master is one that can walk that line. The trick is to walk the line and fall on the side of less as opposed to more. This is the wisdom position.
The addiction will whisper things in your ear and most them make no sense. We listen because we want to believe so bad. This is a lie the addiction uses and it makes no sense but it was so powerful. You're doing so good not ________ing you deserve a _______. Never ever reward yourself with the thing you quit. Reward yourself with something you're not addicted to. If you reward yourself with the thing your giving up you won't be giving it up so what is the reward for.
Cheat days are a lousy idea if you want a change in your life. People say well it's too much to just give it up. If you have a cheat day planned than you haven't changed. Diets don't work. They don't work on food or drugs or depression or anything else. You can't be victorious if you already have a planned failure coming up. You don't get to be victorious for a few weeks so that you can go back to loosing again. If you are taking a break from lying but have a new lie planned out for next week then you never took a break to begin with you just used some patience to make it a good one.
*I remember writing this. I don't believe in cheat days on substances that you have an addiction to but now 10 years later I am looking for balance. No alcohol but I am experimenting with planned cheat days with my eating. This is hard for me and should not be done right away but now that I am skinnier than I have ever been it is important I learn moderation which is a curse word to me. It had to be for me to get to this point. Always coming back to center.
If Starting Best to go back to the first post by date and read from there.
Everything in Italics is me now, commenting on the writing from 8 years ago. Everything not in Italics is the 8 year old writing. In some ways I am the same but in others very different that is what make it interesting.
Blog Intro Video
Note for Context
It takes about 10 years to master something. I drank
heavily for 10 years and have now been sober for 10
years. I was an alcoholic from age 18 to 28 after I quite
drinking I found myself as the house parent at a
residential treatment facility for teens with
addictions issues. I started writing down lessons
from my two years at the facility after I
left along with thoughts and ideas from that time in
my life. I haven't touched these writings for about
eight years and to be honest I forgot all about them. I
have now been sober for ten years now and my life is
very different. 37 is different than 29, divorced is
different than married and California is different
than Indiana. When I wrote these ideas I had no idea
about the challenges I would face since I stopped
working on them, the health, the jobs, the
relationships, the finances and the changes in beliefs.
I'd like to think these ideas from back then played a
role in me landing on my feet stronger, smarter and
These old writings are not edited so don't pick apart
the grammar. I'm a better talker than a writer. It will
be fun to go back and post them in blog form. I have
changed and learned so much since then.
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