What is the REAL problem in addiction?

Photo of the word addictionAddiction and alcoholism have such a stigma attached to them. The belief is that the addict should be able to stop if they really wanted to, and that since they aren’t that person is weak-minded, less-than, or just a mental defect. We can look at our cities and see the struggling souls that live under the bridge and judge them, and say that this is what an addict looks like. And all these ideas or beliefs are just not based in reality. THE DISEASE OF ADDICTION HOLDS NO PREJUDICE. It doesn’t care about your race, gender, whether you are poor or wealthy, your sexual orientation, or anything that might differentiate you from your fellows. The idea that addicts and alcoholics are less than is the very reason why so many people are suffering from this illness and are too ashamed to get help. Their pride is killing them. Uncle Bob’s drinking problem is just going to be kept the family secret, as family members the lack of understanding is impeding the opportunity for help as well. This stigma needs to be smashed. Demographics are not the problem with addiction. The people who suffer from this illness are all around. It may be that soccer mom who does everything she can for her family, yet is abusing the Xanax which her doctor prescribed her for her stress. Or the CEO of a company who had back surgery and was ordered to take pain medication and now he can’t stop. Maybe it is a co-worker of yours who seems like the nicest fellow and father in the world, yet his secret is that he smokes pot because it helps with his anxiety.  Anyone can be an addict.

Before I began my journey in recovery I had no understanding of addiction. I believed that the problem was where I was living, so I moved. I thought my friends were the problem, so I hung out with new people. I was constantly looking for an answer outside of me. I was in great delusion of why I had this problem, why I was an addict. I believed that it was because this “bad thing” happened to me when I was young or daddy issues. I had so many illusions of what my problem was, and the greatest illusion of all was that the drugs themselves were my problem. If they were then a simple detox would fix me, but it never did. Demographics, drugs, friends, money, events, and locations are NOT the problem with addiction. And honestly, as long as we are looking externally and blaming these things the addict can’t get help.

The real problem with addiction is internal. The addict themselves is the problem, and thank goodness. If it were all external circumstances the addict would be screwed for the rest of their life. Addiction is a disease, which consists of an allergy (an abnormal reaction). That soccer mom had no idea that the Xanax prescribed would kick it off, and eventually she wouldn’t know how to survive without it. When an addict puts a substance in their body they lose all control over the amount they take. This is not where the disease centers though, it centers in the mind. It is as if the addict has no mental defense against the insane idea to get loaded regardless of the consequences. In the 12 step fellowships we say that we were powerless over drugs or alcohol, and this mental piece proves that statement. We have no defense because we are lacking power, and it is not talking about will power. Our thoughts and actions, which a lot of times have no correlation with drugs, obscure us from accessing a power great than ourselves. And when we are blocked off we are miserable, which brings in the 3rd part of the disease the spirit.  Addiction is a disease, and you wouldn’t blame cancer on all of these external circumstances. The addict themselves has to change, and there is a solution.

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