What is an addiction?
BY Brian Lynch, M.D.
Someone mentioned how it seemed to them that no one had any idea why they where addicted, this was a person that recently started being active in the treatment of those that used drugs.
So why is it that people use drugs or are addicted to anything?
Regularly I will repeat some basic concepts. One of those concepts will be that "we feel and then we do something." We never just "do" something. That is we never just have the thought "oh I think I will have a beer." That thought comes from somewhere. Some feeling motivated the thought.
But we can feel "good" or "bad" or "hurt" or "confused" and then do something. When hurt or confused this "something" can be staying on the computer 12 hours a day, or watching T.V. 16 hours a day or having a different partner every month and of course eating eight meals a day as well as using drugs and or alcohol. So it is interesting as a therapist how unawares people initially are of the connection between the hurt and the act of using whatever substance or behavior they engage in to help relieve the pain.
In these few words I offer the suggestion that we so easily lose track of essentially where we where going in the first place. This is why when we are asked why we do what we do we have such poor answers. What happened is we where going along fine and long ago something happened to keep us from getting what we wanted. A relationship was damaged with our parents, a sibling, a romantic partner, a job or a degree not achieved. It can be anything at all that can crush us in a moment. We then find something to take away the pain. When we find something that works to relieve the pain, boy does it feel good! So good does it feel that it actually removes the memory of what we originally wanted! Well almost. But if we stay with the addiction the addiction becomes the dominant thing in our life. It becomes, as they say, "a life style" and if asked we have to really think about why we did start it in the first place.
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nathanson Paperback (March 1994)
W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 0393311090
How To Get Where You Want To Go Brian Lynch, M.D. 2000 PageFree