The topics of obsession and addiction were raised by the inimitable TB and da boss man this morning, and a short trawl on the MyDL site revealed two recent blogs - 'I am an addict' and 'Drugs: Drowning in a world of addiction' - which were perhaps the inspiration for the discussion. There is lots we can add on this topic, but for starters I'm going tackle addiction from the addict's point of view, obsession will be covered elsewhere, and Internet addiction in yet another blog.
I am an addict. A real live drug addict. I've been clean for about 15 years now (I'm older than I look ;-)) and am pretty proud of the fact.
To get to Pumkinhead's comments about addiction - the sheer scale of it, the high instances, the tragedy, and that people should do something to help the addicts around them - yes, I agree. The tragedy, the waste, the destruction is horrific. But there's really nothing you can do to help, beyond offering support to the rehab centres that treat addicts like me.
The fact of the matter is that every addict has to hit their own rock-bottom. For many of us, that's death. Game over, finito and finale. Therein lies the heartache and the frustration experienced by an addict's friends and family. You want to help. You want to stop them from killing themselves. You're totally frantic about it. But there's nothing you can do. You can book them into rehab, but in my experience an addict who doesn't want to quit will get out of rehab and go right back to whatever their poison of choice is, often killing themselves in the process because they misjudge how their tolerance levels have dropped while they were 'being cured'.
There is no cure for addiction. Once an addict always an addict, as they so glibly say. Those of us who have given up our crutches have to live with that every day. We have to live with the craving, the want, the need, the urge. There is no off-button, and while it does get easier to cope with, it never goes away. Ever.
This is where friends and family come in. Once you've trudged up the hill, screamed your way through cold turkey, and, if you're lucky, had some nice people at rehab give you an idea of how to cope without the drugs/sex/alcohol. Then you need to change your life. You need to find new ways to cope with old stressors. You need to face the world, a new, naked you, with no chemical barrier between you and reality. Then we need friends and family to cushion us, to help us change our friends and lifestyles and social lives, so we stay away from the people we used to drink/drug/&^% with.
For those of us who get through all this, and turn our addiction into what could possibly be called something manageable, there is no rest or reward. Yes, you are alive, yes you no longer use and abuse. But you have to watch yourself. Every second. A transference addiction, or a relapse, is one bad day away. You can never stop being vigilant. Am I drinking too much? Smoking too much? Curing my craving by throwing myself at one man or another after the other? I may not be going anywhere near my drug of choice, but there are so many things to chose from, and illegal drugs or prescription meds are only the tip of the iceberg.
My point - I guess - is that addiction is, one way or another, a never-ending torment, although that sounds a little more melodramatic than I intended. There is no happy ending. I do not offer any advice to addicts, beyond the proof that life without the stuff is possible, and mostly happy. Despite my 'never-ending torment' comment I am mostly a happy and well-adjusted human being, and you would never guess what I go through from time to time, even if you know me well. For those of you with friends or family that are addicts, check out online resources like erowid (google it), and get as much impartial knowledge as possible. Then, dredge up every ounce of strength you ever had, double it, and you may be in a position to cope. Bleak, I know. But that's how it is really.