There are currently various schools of thought on what addiction is, what causes it and how to treat it. One such line of thinking proposes that addiction is a disease, stemming from a genetic or biochemical predisposition. It embraces the theory that addiction is an inherited disease. Another philosophy proposes that addiction is a “dual problem” made-up of both a physical and mental dependence on chemicals and compounded by an already existing mental issue. Yet another proposes that a person’s chemical dependency causes lasting chemical imbalances in the brain, requiring “psychotropic medications” (drugs which act on the mind). But the question still remains, what is addiction, really?
The Cycle of Addiction
Addiction has a life cycle, and the fundamentals of it can be understood. In its simplest terms, addiction begins with a problem or discomfort or some form of physical or emotional pain which the person experiences. It could be physical pain from an injury, it could be emotional pain stemming from losses in life, or it could be the emotional discomfort of feeling one doesn’t fit in, or belong.
The person does not have an immediate answer or solution to resolve the situation. No matter the origin of the pain or discomfort or difficulty, it presents the person with a very real problem. The problem is viewed by the person as being major, one which persists and without a solution or relief.
As a result of these reasons, some individuals will begin to use alcohol or drugs which have the potential to be addictive.
With the taking of the drugs or alcohol, the person feels relief from whatever it is that causes the emotional or physical pain or discomfort. Despite the relief being temporary, the person adopts the drug or alcohol use as a solution to the problem, thus giving the drugs or the drink value.
It is this value that the person assigns which is the reason he or she will use again, and again.
There are two more factors which are a part of this life cycle of addiction which determine whether a person will become an addict—or not. Peer pressure is one factor which can influence and affect the person’s decision-making as regards using drugs or alcohol to gain relief.
The second factor is the relief value. In simple terms, the greater the problem the person is experiencing, the greater the discomfort will be. Consequently, greater importance will be placed on the relief obtained from the drugs and/or alcohol, and greater value assigned to the relief it brings.
The trap of addiction is its downward spiral. As the person continues to use, they accumulate unto themselves more and more physical and mental damage. The quality of their life deteriorates, and with continued use of the drugs or the alcohol, the person becomes faced with so many unpleasant results and circumstances that each moment of sobriety is filled with misery and despair.
The escape is more drugs or more alcohol, but in actuality, the “escape” is the trap of the downward spiral of addiction.
The Way Out
Once the fundamentals of addiction are understood, it gives us hope that addiction can be overcome for the long-term; that a person can get clean and sober and once again live drug-free.
Lauren was an addict who arrived at Narconon Arrowhead with the hope of attaining sobriety despite 30 years of addiction. She wanted to share some words about her experience there, and how it changed her life.
She said she was now truly clean and drug-free, something she hadn’t been for 30 years. For the first time, all her excuses had been stripped away. As a result, she found herself now capable of applying new ways of “living a good and prosperous life”, and gave her thanks to Narconon Arrowhead Staff.
To learn more about Narconon Arrowhead, please visit www.narcononarrowhead.org