Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What is an addiction?


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.


Brian Lynch
brianlynchmd.com


Copyright 2008


References:

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

"A Thanksgiving Memory"

"A Thanksgiving Memory"

"You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant."


By Brian Lynch, M.D.

Thanksgiving as usual was a mixed bag. It is so often a terrible occasion for so many as are so many holidays and birthdays. Instead of joy, shame, humiliation, fear and disgust raise their heads.

So it was for me a mixed situation as I could not be with someone dear to me and we that is, they and me often accustomed to having the day not be pleasant to start with. I, however, after a number of years of tiring of ambivalence and a few solitary holidays have, of recent years, sworn to spend them with family outside the country. So Thanksgiving being an American holiday makes it a bit confusing all around.

So, why bother at all? And many don’t. My thought for today is that we need to arrange our lives in some fashion. We have a history. We have tradition. Things change slowly. We do our best. All we can do is be as aware as we can and adapt slowly as we learn. The traditions we have are to help us manage our emotions and relations. We cannot get together with family all the time as much as we wish. It seems that holidays, birthdays and other festive occasions are a way to “force” us to do just that. They are as artificial and as full of fantasy as they are in the end very practical. They are solid parts of the yearly calendar that are going to come ”hell or high water” and we have to deal with them. Lucky we are if those days will represent anticipation of interest and joy.

Unfortunate we are if not. But if not we can ask the question what if we did not have these opportunities? Would we really organize our lives to have like reunions without such social sanctions? Surely we might well hope that we are evolving towards such a world where we would care as much for each other in the middle of March as the middle of December but we are not there yet.

This is still not to say that people do not suffer terribly when important anniversaries and holidays come by especially if they find themselves alone sometimes. But if progress is to be made we have to start somewhere. Somewhere is with noting those things that are not going to change. The calendar is not going to change. The events of the past are not going to change. What can change is, if we are ready, and maybe we are not and if not that is ok. But if we are ready and for example we are reading this, then some course of study about our emotions might be in order. We might start to realize that we have never really learned or been taught much of anything about our emotions.

I am certain that if holidays and anniversaries are difficult that there are ways to learn to prepare for those days and seasons differently and to change our emotional response to them and once again live in the present with those around us. It does take interest.


Copyrigth 2008

References:

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