I want to write about a very sensitive topic…one that has touched nearly all of our lives in some way. The topic is addiction. Really, what I want to talk about is the abuse of this word and the misusing of it as an excuse for the times in life in which we are simply too lazy or too stubborn to change…
We have all heard this language…and maybe we’ve even used it…”She can’t control herself, she’s an addict,” or, “He can’t seem to overcome his addiction,” or, “I am an addict and if I have a particular thing introduced into my life, I can’t control what happens next.” The word, “addict,” refers to someone that is dependent upon something to an unhealthy degree. If someone is an opium addict, then when they don’t get their “fix,” their body begins to seriously rebel. It becomes connected with the substance…dependent upon it. The person going through withdrawals from such substances is in a virtual living hell. They experience pain, cravings, and madness over the absence of this substance in a way in which the vast majority of us cannot relate. Out of all the drug addictions I’ve heard of, it seems that the most severe is with opium derivatives. Alcohol addiction as well can manifest in serious physical symptoms. Other than that, I don’t know how many other categories result in a literal, physical dependency. (I’m speaking of drugs and such in this context. There are obviously other physically addictive substances available, like tobacco or caffeine.)
Having said that…I want to address something more. I believe that there are people that go through that living hell of withdrawal. But I don’t believe those people are the ones that are “addicted” to pornography, sex, overeating, or even the internet. I’ve never met a porn addict that was foaming at the mouth because of withdrawal from their addiction. I’ve never met a food addict that had to go to the methadone clinic for treatment.
“Addict.” I hate that word. We throw this word around anymore like it’s a get-out-of-jail free card for the bad choices that we make. We make a series of bad choices…and we keep on making them…and eventually we form a habit. Once this habit is formed, we have a hard time breaking it…so we then call ourselves addicts and say, “we can’t help it.” I guess the reason I hate the word is that it has become one of the primary excuses in our society…and once we play that card…once we say that word…well, then we are no longer responsible for our actions. After all, we were born “addicted” to our smartphone…or we were born “hooked” on the internet…
In the past I have spent so much of my life telling people why I wasn’t really responsible for the things I had done because they were either the result of my past or they were part of some innate addiction that I had. The most liberating day I can recall was the day in which I said, “I’m not an addict…I’m just an idiot!” I remember laying aside that word as it related to various areas of my life and realizing that, in no way, did it actually apply to me. I had formed bad habits and those habits were causing me trouble…but it was up to me to correct them.
Breaking habits is not easy. It’s incredibly hard. It’s literally a “rewiring” of your brain. However, it’s not the same as being driven to something out of instinct. My instincts tell me to eat, stay warm, stay dry, survive, rest, and things like that. My instincts have never driven me to pick up a cigarette or a wad of tobacco. Those types of things were conscious choices that I made and in turn I faced certain consequences or results.
In light of this, here’s my challenge: Let’s stop hiding from the guilt of our bad decisions behind the guise of the word, “addiction.” I was reading an article recently about how alcohol ruins people’s lives. I disagree completely. Alcohol never destroyed one single life. The abuse of it…which is to say someone’s choices regarding it…well that’s another story. I remember a day in which I referred to myself as an alcoholic. I was never an alcoholic. I was, at one point in my younger years, an alcohol abuser. And, here’s the kicker…that was a reality strictly because I chose to walk down that path. Yet, in today’s world, when someone is simply too lazy or too stubborn to change, we say that they can’t help it. They have a problem. Yes they do. It’s called, “Making poor decisions and then not wanting to take responsibility for those decisions.”
I’m not trying to oversimplify the fact that there are many areas such as this in which we struggle. All I’m trying to do is deal with reality. If someone has porn problem, then it’s because of a choice to follow either a compulsion or an impulse. If they overeat, then it’s the same story. Our society would be a lot better off if we stop hiding behind excuses…like a misapplication of the word, “addict.”