Some Thoughts About Addictions

People engage in addictive behaviors for a reason, they get 'something' out of it.  Drugs of abuse will cause pleasurable feelings in most people who try them, and a pleasurable response encourages a 'repeat performance'.  But there is more to addiction, much more.  For every group of individuals who find a particular substance or experience pleasurable, on a part of that group will go on to have problems from that substance or experience.  Why is that?

The person prone to addiction is getting 'something else' out of the experience besides simply the pleasure.  Often it is relief of uncomfortable feelings (physical or emotional), or it may be relief from troubling thoughts or worries.  A brief period of peace, of comfort, of no worries.  That can be so attractive to the individual that there is a desire to repeat the experience.  And so it begins.  A pattern of behavior develops that provides some comfort, pleasure, and relief in the present moment.  Please note the time frame.

Addictions feel good in the present moment but over a period of time begin to cause problems down the road.  That is the basic pattern of addiction: feel good now, experience consequences later.  A brief reflection will help you see that this is a mindset or attitude of our culture at this point in time.  Have fun now, worry about the consequences later.

Perhaps this sounds familiar:  Buy Now, Pay Later!  We see a time of unprecedented debt both in many families as well as in virtually all governments (city, county, state, federal).  Addictions are a lot like credit cards!  Get the good stuff/feeling now, worry about the cost/consequence later.  Escape the everyday boredom, indulge yourself.  Buy the new car, take that vacation, spend money you don't have.  This message is so prevalent in our culture that many of us see it as a normal way of life.  It is that attitude that underlays much of the addictive process.

For further reading, please see this blog entry.