Many specialists in the field of addiction still refer to addiction as a choice freely made by the addict, at least in the early stages, while others believe addiction to be an illness or disease over which an addict has little or no control. This variance of opinion would suggest that medical science to date is completely out of its depth when trying to understand, on its own terms, the reasons why people use drugs.
Those entrusted with the treatment of addiction by public funding spend precious time and money conducting experiments and doing tests to discover more about addiction. Sadly, even when all the evidence is in, we will be no better off. We will all know everything there is to know about the “mechanics” of addiction – and how it can be treated.
The best cure for addiction is in terms of a priori prevention. In order to achieve that we need to look at the dynamics of compulsion and why it is that despite every “reason” not to, people still abuse drugs.
Everyone has techniques for overcoming negative feelings, some more effective than others. We all develop habits as a means of stress relief. When faced with overwhelming, unbearable feelings of anxiety or depression and we discover a means to “fix” it, our behavior becomes more than a routine or habit, it becomes a compulsive behavior.
Unless and until we resolve our anxiety and related feelings of depression, we can study the mechanics of addiction as much as we like – it will not provide the answers you need to overcome addiction.
Author and OCD sufferer Jeff Bell has written two books about overcoming compulsion – Rewind, Replay, Repeat and the sequel – When In Doubt, Make Belief. Bell speaks of taking control of the Doubt that ruled his life – another word for feelings of insecurity and anxiety. Most importantly he speaks of “making the choice to view the universe as a friendly embracing possibility and affirming your own potential”.
Addict help for addiction is very much about giving addicts help to open up their experience to a life which is full of potential and friendly, not threatening and dangerous. Addict help gives support and encouragement to the addict to enable them to begin to see the world as a less threatening and hostile place. Giving positive reassurance and non-judgmental respect helps an addict to see their life less negatively – and to affirm their own potential.
Giving addict help for compulsive, addictive behavior is about giving an addict some space to review his thoughts about life and see where relationships might be improved. An addict will not want to move out of the “comfort zone” of his addictive behavior unless he can get a glimpse of what a positive, non-threatening lifestyle might feel like, if only he was emotionally free.
Anyone can give an addict help by letting them know that you care and are prepared to fully listen to what is troubling them.