Nate Bagley explains that addiction is not a binary, and we must change the way we talk about it if we want people to get the help they deserve and desperately need.
Whenever I hear the word “Addiction” I think of a junkie in the back of a dark alley shooting up, or an angry, violent husband who beats his wife, or a college student blacked out in a puddle of his own vomit.
And yes, addiction is all those things… but it’s not solely confined to those extremes. Addiction is a much more intricate, widespread, and personal issue than it is often portrayed.
Essentially an addiction is an unnatural compulsion or dependency on a substance or action.
One of the most widely-accepted myths regarding addiction is that it functions like a light switch. You’re not addicted until you cross some ambiguous moral line, and then suddenly you find yourself on an episode of “Intervention.” Suddenly, you’re addicted.
Addiction is not binary. It is spectral.
Just like cancer, addiction can be mild or very extreme. The right treatment depends on the severity in each individual case.
Addiction is not always debilitating. You can be addicted to alcohol without blacking out in a bathroom stall every weekend. You can be addicted to porn and only consume it once every few weeks. You can even be addicted to love, or kindness if you’re using it as an emotional escape, or a coping mechanism to avoid your reality. (Don’t believe me? Listen to the podcast above with James Ott.)
Addiction Is A Disease
Addiction is a disease of the mind just like diabetes or cancer is a disease of the body. All too often, those affected by addiction see it as a harmful decision that just needs to be stopped with the simple choice to “not do it anymore.” It’s similar to blaming a cancer patient for not wearing sun screen. At this point, you can’t un-choose something. You have the disease. The only cure is proper treatment.
The best way to deal with addiction is to avoid blame and accusation. Instead, we need to promote education, empathy, love, and understanding. Otherwise, addiction will terrorize our relationships, and leave them an empty shell of what they had the potential to become.
Twelve-step programs are an amazing resource for those with addictions and those people who are affected by addicts.
Addiction affects us all.. and together is the only way we’ll overcome it.
Check out these books mentioned by Dr. Ott in this podcast:
Originally appeared at The Loveumentary