We are all dependent on others. We all have lists of things we can’t do. Some of these things are there because we don’t want to do them, like some men who say they can’t cook or some women who think they can’t fix a running toilet. Some things we "just have to have," like going to get our nails done, or eating ice cream. This is all normal stuff… until it gets to demand too many sacrifices: "I can’t lose the 50 pounds I’ve put on over the last few years, or I have to have lots of beautiful clothes and now I’ve run up my credit card and can’t pay it off."
Then we feel helpless, depressed, avoid telling ourselves the truth about things. We don’t just drink too much at football games but every Saturday, we drive under the influence once a year… or is it once a month? We have been diagnosed with diabetes, but we don’t know anything about the disease… and want to remain that way.
So from dependency to addiction we go. We never know the moment that we crossed that line because we don’t want that awful name: “addict”, to ever be applied to us. We "just have a little problem."
I can control my eating, drinking, looking at porn, drugging – “they’re prescribed!”. This is just a difficult period. It will be better: after the exam, after the divorce, after the merger.
We can be addicted to almost anything. It’s not the particular activity, it’s the need that is the addiction, the overwhelming need.
What does the addiction fix? It "fixes" us. We need to be fixed. We need to feel less anxious, less self-hating, less depressed, less hopeless, or even just more self-confident. And it works! We do feel better after the first two rounds, after the chocolate cake, after the coke. So much better. Until it wears off, or we cause ourselves trouble, and then it begins again: The never to be satisfied need.
Take for example, obesity. Yes, that ugly word, that applies now to 1 out of every 3 people in America. If you are 15% over your normal body weight, you are obese. How many people have told themselves that they just need to lose a few pounds? It takes a lot of courage to admit the problem is food addiction, that it will require hard work and support to alter it - as we can’t just quit food, can we? But we can’t go to a 12- step group.
Those people are really beyond the pale. I can do this on my own. I have lost it before.
In AA they’d call that “ stinkin thinkin”.
Same story: different substance. The method is: lying to ourselves. The result is never good; sometimes fatal.
If you are thinking about getting help, come for a free hour-long appointment to see if you can take the plunge. It is not something you can do alone. You know that already. I have been an addiction/dependency counselor for 20 years. I can help you get free.
Lila Caffery, MA, CCHT