Revisiting the Term Addiction

There comes a time when we make the conscious decision to build ourselves up, instead of continuing to tear ourselves down. In retrospect of my life so far, that has been what it is. I build it up only to watch it burn, then to arise from the ashes once more. More than any substance, I am addicted to that process itself. A re-run of an episode I’ve seen far too many times. Oh, the comfort of melting away to the same episode. Oh, the excitement of basking in the shadows of risk. I enjoyed the guilty pleasure of adventuring into unsafe territories, meeting the merchants of death, dodging the sirens of imprisonment. All of that until that became the norm for me, and I was trapped.

Perhaps that’s why they call it the “trap.”

Words are big for me. I am fascinated by etymology. I think they have so much value beyond their surface appearance. For instance, I look at the word “scoring.” This is a common terminology for when a drug purchase is made. Now, I ask myself why do they call it “scoring?” Of all the words, why is that word used to describe that seedy process?

Well, I believe it is a reflection of the lifestyle of an addict. It’s such a simple life, and fulfilling in the most short-sighted way. The life of an addict is on a day-to-day basis, consisting of very short term “goals” (The word ‘goal’ is synonymous with the word ‘score’, by the way). The addict wakes up physically and psychologically sick with one goal and one goal only, “How can I ‘score?’” A beautiful life with endless possibilities and potential is dwindled down to getting money to get high. That’s it, that’s their life, nothing more nothing less. Wake up, get money, get drugs (which the brain interprets as medicine to kill physical and psychological pain), go to sleep and do it all over again. The addict has trouble with preserving resources, as they go, so does their pride and purpose. A possibly once honorable sort, will steal, lie, dissolve all morals and ethics, and even sell their bodies. The addict believes they are using the drugs, when I look at it as the drugs using the individual.

Addiction in itself goes against the natural laws of all living creatures and organisms. Every organism is ingrained with the innate purpose of survival and reproducing. Addiction flips the script on this completely. How is it that the most intelligent species on the planet would have so many members of its society actively trading their livelihood for certain death or imprisonment? This speaks to the power of addiction. Which brings me to the essence of this blog.

It’s time that we revisit the term addiction.

When I was younger I had the distinct pleasure (sarcasm) of participating in the Orange County Drug Court program. Their definition of addiction was “continuing a behavior despite the negative consequences it had on your life.” At face value it seemed like a pretty decent definition to me, however, upon further inspection, I realized how faulty it really was. Sure, that is an aspect of addiction, continuing a behavior that breeds negative results, however, it does not address the psychological and physiological influence the disease possesses.

I recall my first time going to an NA meeting. I observed as everyone introduced themselves as addicts - even the sponsors that had years of clean time. I didn’t understand why they would brand themselves as such. I only had about two weeks of clean time and even then I felt defining myself as such to be extremely arbitrary.

Now, I understand. 

To me, and anyone who has been an active addict or witnessed it first hand with unbiased eyes, it is self-evident that addiction is a chronic mental illness. Once the disease is contracted, it is something you’ll have for life…deep stuff, I know. I actually like referring to it as the diabetes of the mind. Like addiction,diabetes has obvious biological and social influences that are involved in contracting this chronic condition, however in most cases and to some extent, is self-inflicting.

Addiction is a threat to the progress and evolution of our society. I believe every single person can contribute to our society in some way. I believe like every animal and plant on this Earth, there is an ultimate place and purpose for us all. Addiction takes the true purpose away from its victims, cheating the community, society, and the world of potential achievements, contributions, and advancements. That is the threat that I see. Which brings me to my final point.

It’s time we revisit how we treat addiction, pertaining to the legal system.

Don’t worry, I’m going to spare you from the “The war on drugs is a failure” rhetoric - It goes without saying that deterrents aren’t enough to combat a mental illness. It also goes without saying that handing out felonies to these individuals cripples their chances for social and economic advancements, therefore negatively impacting the society in which they live. Institutionalizing addicts is not what we need to be doing.  Proper rehabilitation is necessary. It’s time we start sending addicts to treatment instead of jail.They are already victims of themselves, they already live in a prison of the mind. They need to be set free, not encaged in a hostile, demoralizing, environment. Advancements have been made regarding Drug Court programs, however they are overrun, underfunded, and not very progressive.

A team, community, society, etc. is only as strong as its weakest link. It’s time we realized we’re all in this together.

So I say again, It’s time we revisit Addiction.