One morning, I pondered writing about addictions. That same morning, before I left for work, I took out the first self-help book I completed this year, which at the time actually helped bring about a lot of epiphanies and self-discovery, and happened to immediately flip exactly to the page that began the chapter, “Compulsive/Addictive Behaviors.” That pretty much settled it. This post is destiny, folks.
So yeah. I know you. The term “addiction” comes to mind and you immediately think “drugs and alcohol” (IMHO “drugs and alcohol” is completely redundant; or should I say, category and sub-category?). Or, maybe you’re a bit more advanced than I was and you’re thinking, a synonym with “habit.” That’s good. Let’s go textbook for a minute:
- Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance: a drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction.
- An instance of this: a person with multiple chemical addictions.
- The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something.
There’s textbook, and then there’s self-help book. Pia Mellody describes addiction as, “any process used to avoid or take away intolerable reality.”
Whoa. Any process? By jove. Because we all know that where the brink of “intolerable” rests for each one of us is clearly subjective. So here’s me telling you you’re a friggin’ addict, complete with fire and brimstone rhetoric. Kidding. In all honesty, though, by the definition of numbing of pain, come now–let’s just be honest. We all need a brewski or two. Or ten. But it’s more than that. Sometimes, we just don’t like our mood. We want to change it.
It all depends, of course, on how you define “substance.” Because everyone’s got a substance. Even if you’re not textbook addicted, there’s something we all need for our own purposes of escapism. Again, or ten things. And here’s the moment of truth: there are thought, feeling and activity addictions. They’re simply mood alterers before they take that form through repetition.
I’m paging through this book, here. Sure, it lists eating disorders–I know that comes next after drugs and alcohol. You’d think that after that comes teh internets (you’re reading my blog, aren’t you?). Consumerism. Because everyone knows, there’s tons of vices out there that we turn to for solutions or to simply pass on the buck (pun intended)–but are we really aware of the grey area in which they transform into addictions? But for me, the point where I become completely honest with myself and my life’s situation and the ones that have affected me are the thought and feeling addictions. What about the feelings of power, control and manipulation, feelings of religious righteousness or shamelessness, co-dependency with a loved one, perfectionism, even internalized guilt? For activity addictions, there are compulsive disorders, or will addictions (where you “will” yourself into activities as a result of mistrust of your own perceptive and judging abilities).
So I’ll say it: Amongst other things, I’m addicted to snowboarding. The adrenaline rush of approaching the lip of a jump, the rush of speeding down a hill while barely holding an edge, the impromptu turns between trees, the way snow smells wafting past the olefactories.
I’m also addicted to the internet. The way I surf Notes and give opinions of my own on various topics as if they will truly make a difference in someone else’s day, the way I digest others’ opinions and become enlightened through the widening of my own mind.
Amongst other things. And there are past addictions and recurring ones. I’ll leave some of those to myself. Moments of truth, right? Not moments of judgment and guilt, rendering us paralyzed. Immobile.
Well. At least I’m not addicted to work.