Addiction is not only about using drugs and alcohol, because addiction can be of anything. The definition of addiction which I like is impulsive, compulsive behavior leading to spiritual decay. There is no mention of substance abuse at all. By spiritual we mean relationships. A person has three relationships:- firstly with himself or herself, secondly with others and that includes people at home, friends, relatives and society at large and thirdly and most importantly with the God of your understanding. Any thing which causes my relationships to weaken can be called addiction. Be it a seemingly harmless activity like going for a morning walk. If a person is used to going for a morning walk daily how do we determine if it is a healthy habit or an addiction? If it is addiction there will be some unmanageability. If for example somebody at home has a fall and needs to be taken to a hospital and the person says that let me finish my morning walk first and then I will take you to the hospital then you can deduce that it is addiction and if the person misses his morning walk then we can assume that it is a healthy habit. We cannot limit addiction to substance abuse.
Addiction is a multifaceted disease. It is a bio psycho and social disorder. Addiction can be of anything – drugs, alcohol, food, sex, money, gambling, anything. Every person has a void and if we try to fill that void with anything, that thing can become our addiction, because this void can only be filled by relationships:- your relationship with yourself, your relationship with others, which includes firstly your folks at home, friends and society at large and your relationship with the God of your understanding.
Life is about ups and downs and these ups and downs are not in our control. Addiction at its most basic level is trying to control these uncontrollable cycles of ups and downs. The addict does not like the way he or she is feeling and decided to feel differently. If he or she is sad they want to feel good and if they are feeling good they want to feel better.This is how the addiction cycle begins by acting out. In acting out the addict engages in addictive behaviors or obsessions by which his or her mood changes. Acting out is a way to shift ones feelings or mood. By acting out through thoughts or actual behavior, the addict learns to create feelings of being relaxed, excited or even fear, self disgust, shame but the biggest illusion is of being in control.Life if stressful and acting out is a way to escape from the stresses of day to day living.
Addiction and the mood change experienced by the addict is a very seductive process. We can get temporary relief from objects and events but not nurturing, i.e. our void does not get filled. All of us have to deal with issues, frustrations and memories we want to avoid and we all use objects and events to avoid facing them but in addiction we lose control and get locked into emotional evading of life. Addiction always begins at the emotional level in a person.
Alcoholism is a misunderstood disease. Firstly, people will readily agree that is a Disease but they still blame the person for being an alcoholic. Do you blame a person for having Diabetes? People think it is a moral failing or a lack of will power. Alcoholics Anonymous has clearly stated and I also agree as a recovering Alcoholic that the alcoholic is powerless over his alcoholism. The Disease concept of Alcoholism was first propounded by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. The disease of alcoholism is Primary, i.e., it is not linked to any other disease but there is a genetic basis for the disease as children of alcoholics are more prone to alcoholism. Secondly, it is a progressive disease. As can be seen in the intake of quantity by the alcoholic. Thirdly, it is a fatal disease. Untreated alcoholics die a premature, painful death or end up in jails, mental asylums or institutions.
The disease of alcoholism is unique in the sense that it is the only disease which denies its own existence and resists treatment. Denial is such a big part of every alcoholics psyche. Even if they agree they have an Alcohol problem they will insist that they themselves will take care of it. The denial part makes the disease of alcoholism clever, cunning, baffling and powerful.
The disease of alcoholism is incurable but treatable and the best treatment is the 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. The treatment can be started in a rehabilitation center and then continued by regular meeting attendance. Meetings are the best way of maintaining sobriety, in fact there is no other way. Treatment by psychiatrist is also tried but the results are not very good. Other modalities have their own limited success rate.
- Several explanations (or “models”) have been presented to explain addiction:
- The moral model states that addictions are the result of human weakness, and are defects of character. Those who advance this model do not accept that there is any biological basis for addiction. They often have scant sympathy for people with serious addictions, believing either that a person with greater moral strength could have the force of will to break an addiction, or that the addict demonstrated a great moral failure in the first place by starting the addiction. The moral model is widely applied to dependency on illegal substances, perhaps purely for social or political reasons, but is no longer widely considered to have any therapeutic value. Elements of the moral model, especially a focus on individual choices, have found enduring roles in other approaches to the treatment of dependencies.
The development of addiction is thought to involve a simultaneous process of 1) increased focus on and engagement in a particular behavior and 2) the attenuation or “shutting down” of other behaviors. For example, under certain experimental circumstances such as social deprivation and boredom, animals allowed the unlimited ability to self-administer certain psychoactive drugs will show such a strong preference that they will forgo food, sleep, and sex for continued access.
Levi Bryant has criticized the term and concept of addiction as counterproductive in psychotherapy as it defines a patient’s identity and makes it harder to become a non-addict. “The signifier ‘addict’ doesn’t simply describe what I am, but initiates a way of relating to myself that informs how I relate to others.”