For someone who is addicted to alcohol or drugs, that pill or joint or line of cocaine, that glass of wine, beer is the object of one’s desire. When you’re addicted you LOVE that glass of wine, that glass of wine is your best friend, you miss it when it’s not there, you panic when its Sunday morning and you can’t buy it till noon. You have a love relationship with the object of your addiction.
If you have ever been in romantic love with someone this is very similar. More specifically, it’s very much like an abusive relationship, a love that hurts, a love you can’t break free from. Your friends don’t understand how you can still love vodka after 3 DUIs and countless court appearances and fines. Your friends just don’t get it. Vodka is your lover. And I’m not joking. Vodka is the lover and you are misunderstood.
Same principal applies to that pint of ice cream in your freezer, bacon or a big Mac, that fabulous pair of Prada shoes or Gucci handbag, the feel of the green felt on the black jack table, sex, porn, World of Warcraft, and the list goes on. Now, there is a normal degree of eating fast food, splurging on a Gucci purse, buying scratch off tickets or getting really good at Guitar Hero.
What I’m talking about here is obsessive, possessive love. Love that takes over everything else in you life and makes you feel more wonderful than any lover has eve been able to make you feel. Love you would lie, steal, kill for, sell you soul to the devil for, love that gives you butterflies in your stomach, excites you beyond ecstasy, makes you forget you haven’t showered or eaten, love that consumes you so much you can’t really focus on anything else, and you can no longer remember what your life was like before it. Love that finds you, sees you, deep in you and makes you feel alive. Love that completes you.
But does it, really?
After a while though it’s not so great anymore. And to make matters worse most addictions have significant consequences which are negative, destructive and often irreversible. You were found and now you’re lost. And now its even worse because you know what you are missing. But you also know there is only one way out. Quit. And when you do, this is one of the greatest losses you’ll ever experience in your life.
But you make that commitment and do all the hard work and you’re clean and sober for a while. Maybe a year goes by and you have finally discovered a way to feel excited, happy and complete again. And then you meet an old friend you used to drink with and they have no idea how great you’re doing, they invite you for a beer and you think “heck I deserve it, only one”. Before you know it, you are on your 12th and have started doing shots and now you really want some coke. Yeah, that would be fantastic right now! And then…
Well, long story short, you wake up next to a transvestite prostitute, your wallet has disappeared, you can’t find your car and have no idea where you are or how you got there.
There is a point to this I promise. And this is my newest theory about addictions. Ready?
Addictive behaviors provide a false sense of power and control.
I realize this goes against the normal view of being powerless or out of control. I suppose, the key word here is “false”. These habits satisfy our innermost primitive pleasure instinct (also known as the life instinct) but also make us feel powerful and invincible.
I think we need to feel invincible because deep down we have not faced the reality of our own mortality.
When we lose someone in our life to death we know they are not coming back. Death is irreversible and leaves us powerless in despair. A lot of our behaviors go back to our attempts to deal with the permanency of our mortality and addiction can be a very effective cheating system for a while. But this system is faulty.
The truth is, no one can have a permanent or even long-term relationship with their drug. There is typically no such thing as married till death do us part. Unless you overdose, which sadly happens. And every time one “revives” their drug they are setting themselves up for another loss, another burial and the pain that comes with it, feeling it all, all over again.
You may be cheating death but you’re also wasting your life doing it.
So before I ask you to attend AA or work on your triggers, do you mind if we talk about death?