Is addiction real? Yes, but.....

Is addiction real? Yes, but..... Ok, so I’ve stated my case as to why I don’t buy into the “disease” argument with regards to “alcoholism” or as I prefer, alcohol/drug dependency. When having this debate, many times the other person will say, “Ok, well if it’s not a disease, then it most definitely is an ADDICTION” While addiction is real, I don’t care for the word because it also implies a state in which the person has no control over it. So, let’s take a look at what constitutes this much misunderstood word. Addiction, when discussing alcohol or drugs, clearly has two very different components, one physical and one mental. Now there are “addictions” that only have the mental component (gambling, shopping, etc…) and I’ll touch on those later, but for now we’ll concern ourselves with just substance addiction. With regards to the physical aspect of it, if you go to and click on the tab Psych Basics and then click on “addiction” you will find the following in the body of the article; “The word addiction is used in several different ways. One definition describes physical addiction. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect; this is known as tolerance. Because of tolerance, there is a biological reaction when the drug is withdrawn. Another form of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction by the brain to drugs (or to cues associated with the drugs). An alcoholic walking into a bar, for instance, will feel an extra pull to have a drink because of these cues.” Ok, now while this is a very real and debilitating consequence of using/abusing drugs/alcohol, it is hardly irreversible and therefore not some kind of terminal disease! Now is it easy? HELL NO, but once you make the decision to overcome your addiction, it’s simply, from a physical standpoint, a matter of enduring the pain and discomfort from withdrawal. Withdrawal can be one of the most horrid experiences of your life and dangerous as well, so you should seek medical help before you take it on. OK, now on to the mental part of “addiction”. From that same article on, addiction is defined as follows; “Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (gambling) that can be pleasurable but the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work or relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.” However, most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. The focus of the addiction isn't what matters; it's the need to take action under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an understanding of how it works psychologically.” A “condition” is not a disease but is still nonetheless very real. “Emotionally stressed” is a bit vague but I agree that for most people, besides the “physical” addiction, there is also this mental component and that that component should be more accurately call a “DEPENDENCY” I agree that for many if not most “alcoholics”, their dependency is a result of and a response to “underlying issues and/or internal pain and suffering” From “When a person is addicted to something they cannot control how they use it, and become dependent on it to cope with daily life.” I agree wholeheartedly and these dependencies that are composed of underlying stresses, issues, internal pain or whatever you want to call it, need to be uncovered, addressed and overcome. That’s what part two of “The Freedom to Recover” is all about. You don’t need to surrender your will or admit “powerlessness” but rather do the exact opposite. You need to utilize methods that will empower you to recreate your view of the world and your ability to deal with these underlying factors. People are doing every day and so can you! Peace out, Rolf


fedup's picture

I agree that most people have underlying issues or internal pain and suffering! Alot of people have been badly abused in one way or another during child hood and have serious issues of trust, rejection etc. This can manifest itself as uncontrolled anger and rage, depression, rebellion, self destructive or risky behaviours etc. I think the way the 12 steps are, people arent encouraged to heal from the very place which caused the pain to begin with! Instead they are constantly told to look for their part in, well I guess at age 8, I shouldnt have back answered my dad which caused him to lash out and belt me senseless! I guess thats my pride or ego running the show etc etc. This is how the 12 steps operate and in no way does it deal with a persons internal pain or damage done as a child. Or they often misuse the concept of acceptance I found too! Acceptance and powerless seems to operate together simultaneously which once again leaves the person feeling inadequate or invaluable. I think although we have no control over what a person does to us and need to learn to accept what happened so we can move on, we are not completely powerless. I found that AA steppers in general do not like it when a person is confident or has a healthy perspective of to have personal develop self worth despite the various forms of abuse they have endured. And this apparently boils down to a persons huge ego and lack of humility! This is why I agree with what Orange says about AA being a cult because the entire program and dogma of AA is designed to keep a person oppressed! Hence, why none of their behaviours are worked on as its still a form of acting out from gross injustices put upon them! Addiction is real and so are the causes. AA can get you sober but it wont heal your pain!
Rolf Ankermann's picture

So this guy was trying to tell me that AA's 4th and 5th steps serve the purpose of helping you get honest with yourself thus helping you be humble and learn about your mistakes!!!!! Equating AA's 4th and 5th steps with uncovering underlying issues is ridiculous. People DO use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate away internal pain and suffering. Not all people, but I'd say that most people who drink dependently for decades have more going on than just that they drink too much when they drink. If that's the extent of the problems that it causes, than stopping must have been VERY easy when you "matured" out of it. I do believe that most kids do grow out of overdoing it once they hit their mid to late 20's or early 30's unless they got roped into the AA cult that tells them they have a lifetime "disease" that requires "recovering" one day at a time for eternity. AA's 4th step is all about "character defects" and "confessing your sins". Not even close to being the same thing as trying to uncover underlying issues. AA's steps are all about guilt, shame and moral deficiencies. Trying to figure out why you drink/drug yourself to extremes to relieve internal suffering is not even remotely the same thing. We're not talking about "shortcomings" or any stupid "spiritual conditions" that's AA Billshit and it's not the same thing all. I don't look at the fact that I started drinking because I had social anxiety as a case of me "having sinned". Actually I started drinking because it felt good but guess what? It also took away a lot of internal crap that I was feeling. There are tons of varying issues that people try to self-medicate or diminish. Also, there are people who just flat out drink to much and it's gets them in trouble with work, the wife when they pass out on the couch every night, etc.... For them, if there are no other issues, making the decision to stop it should be pretty freaking easy if they as you say, take a mature approach. It's not that easy for everybody else.

first 4th step, I went mad. I had to hospitalize myself. My sponsor had no ability to deal with what I was going through. There was a reason I did not look back.

How tragic that I thought AA was the only way! I don't think there are underlying issues for everyone. If you drink long and hard enough you get dependent and it could be just cause you liked the way you felt drunk and could handle it so you thought.
Rolf Ankermann's picture

I agree that not everybody has underlying issues and for those people, making the decision to stop it should be a Hell of a lot easier. For those folks they have to suck it up and realize that they just suck at drinking responsibly so maybe they're better off just not doing it. The same is true for those that have accompanying issues but they then also have to find another way of addressing and overcoming them as well. Unfortunately for me, I had both of those deals going on :-(

I was dependent for a little over 2 years on cocaine. When I went through 'treatment' AA convinced me I'd been addicted since I started out at age 14. I had difficulties I had not addressed in any other ways, but I wasn't addicted. I wasn't dependent. I quit easily to have my children. I didn't quit my jobs cause of drugs. It didn't mess up my relationships. in fact it helped me cope. But it sounded good to me. I could tell other people in the program I started using at 14 and was addicted from day one. I was drinking out of control about the same # of years all in all. So 25 years of insanity in AA for 2 times being dependent that got put way behind me, all the insanity of the 12 step programs, believing I had a 'disease' and accepting that pathetic depressing lifestyle, giving up my best friends, home town, etc. to 'save myself' was just, well, unnecessary. :-( What a waste of mental growth. What a lot of mental torture for what really?
Rolf Ankermann's picture

I hear you, it helped me cope as well. I started when I was twelve and for the most part it simply because I liked getting High. Simple right? But it also did keep me from developing other healthier ways of dealing with stress, social anxiety, etc.... It did help with all of that crap but in the end, caused damage because it retarded the development of the normal and mature ways of dealing with that kind of stuff. So over time, I depended on it to help me cope with those underdeveloped skills. It is a raw deal and a catch-22 all at the same time!
SimonTemplar's picture

MORAL IMBECILES-1700's-late1800's okay so your problem is you're too stupid to know that masturbation can cause INSANITY being a sinner will drive you INSANE Very real ideations in treatment-you are a stupid sinner so dtuhh God's punishing you for your SINS This lasted centuries and is still many have been diagnosed as idiots/stupid/imbeciles joke I've written before Rich man's driving in countryside/gets flat tire right in front of an old locked and barrred INSANE ASYLUM so no problemo.out comes the automatic trunk/boot opener and then the high tech lug-nut remover and pneumatic lift But while he rolled the spaer tire to front o the car OOps he ran over the hubcap and dtuuh lugnuts fell into a storm drain/OMG Tow company they'll charge me bank.I've got a Meredes So while he's doing his OMG/OMG one man inside the old steel doored/locked and barred INSANE ASYLUM SAID hey Mr/Hey Mr "/WTf do you want?" Look just take one lug nut from each tire and buy new ones in the next town.Rich guy stopped/though about it for 30 seconds then removed one lug nut from each of the 3 other tires Job well done.then he stopped and looked at the guy inside THE INSANE ASYLUM/"Hey you know,you're a pretty smart guy why are you locked up inside that old INSANE ASYLUM.YOU'RE intelligent" Look Mr rich guy.I am not locked up in here because i am stupid I am no moron.I AM INSANE!! 44 years since I was inside a VA hospital until I agreed that I just imagined that some chickenshit full bird colonel left me for 5 1/2 days to die yet still/some dumb mthfckrs seem to BELIEVE THAT I MUST BE STUPID. great changes for 140 years since Freud discovered Id.Ego/Superego and subconscious/unconscious mind/people still want to imagine that all mentally disordered are MORAL IMBECILES.or simply IMBECILES Lighthouse in mtns.Getting needed meds to stay just 1/2 crazy. or as US Govt says 30% crazy/WTF.