The Nature of Addiction

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Addiction is a relationship between two entities, where one (a person) is overly attached to and dependent on the other (a person or a thing), and the other is overly toxic to the one. Separation seems almost impossible because in such great distress, there appears to be great pleasure. And in an attempt to separate, there appears to be an accompanying misery.  

Although, Harry had been drug-free for nearly twenty years, he relapsed at the age of forty two when a new coworker who asked him over to his house held up close to his nose what seemed like a small plastic pencil sharpener. Driven by curiosity, he asked this coworker what that was. And then, the co-worker said, ‘this is how we do cocaine now. You press this button and you snort. Do you want some?’ 

Harry gave in, forgetting that he was once an addict, and believing that he couldn’t possibly get addicted again. One single snort, and suddenly he was high. It seemed that his brain had readjusted itself. He could recall the pleasant experiences of drug-use in the past. The pleasure was intense; it was a wonderful feeling. All the effort made to abstain from drug-use for the past twenty years now seemed wasted. He was back to that guilty, yet intoxicating pleasure. He immediately considered getting the name of the dealer and promised to snort only on weekends. However, he soon found himself taking it virtually every day. 

There is a reason addiction is called a disease of the brain. This is because it sometimes overpowers the addict in such a way that they seem to have no control over their object of addiction. It is as though they are enslaved to it. They want out, but it is really difficult to get out. It’s a struggle between their desire to stay addicted and their desire to abstain. And guess what, several years of abstinence doesn’t necessarily mean that they are free from this disease. It simply means that they have learnt to manage it. We learnt from Harry’s case that he had learnt to manage his addiction before the relapse, rather than cure it. Addiction management is the furthest anyone can go as regards curing it. This is due to the complexities, wiring, and the memorability of the human brain. 

Now, we have learnt that psychopaths are not prone to getting addicted. This shows that some people have brains that are more prone to picking up addictions than others. The difference lies with natural brain chemistry associated with genes. This explains why one person can take a drug and experience little consequence, while another person’s life will be completely altered. 

Now, Diana was in a relationship with a narcissist, who physically and emotionally abused her. She had bruises all over her arms and faces and seemed to be going through a hard time. However, she kept going back to him and wasn’t willing to break up with him. When asked by a friend who was concerned about her and who wanted to know why she never left him, Diana simply said, ‘… but I love him’. 

Diana’s love addiction is incredibly similar to Harry’s drug addiction. This is because addictions of any form have similar control over a person’s life. Diana mentioned to her friend that there was nothing as pleasurable and electrifying as loving the narcissist who had always treated her so badly. The price she was paying was irrelevant to the pay off. 

It is impossible to claim that you have a rational or logical point against addiction and addicted people, if you have not really experienced the overwhelming power of addiction in your life. Addiction rewires the brain and alters how you function each day. It creates a certain desire that is too difficult to abstain from. Sometimes, you fight hard, but you never come out victoriously. Other people judge you by saying that you are weak, irresponsible, and stupid, but they don’t know your struggles. You strive so hard to please your family, friends, and the society, but no one seems to understand your pains. Therefore, addicts are not weak people; addictions are just difficult to overcome.