I need to a clear addiction definition to stay alive.
Hi! Happy 2015! If you’re new to the website, welcome. I’ll hope you’ll keep coming back.I wanted to bring up my addiction definition again. I’ve talked about it before, but it’s buried back under dozens of more recent posts. Unless you’re one of the stalwarts who has slogged through every post on the site, you may have missed it or just not gotten to it yet.
So here’s the deal: There are countless stabs at an addiction definition out there and the ongoing confusion has allowed addicts to bob and weave like a prizefighter to keep from having to face up to the frightful truth: Addiction and all it brings with it are destroying the addict’s life and the lives of those who surround him or her.
The addiction definition shouldn’t be a moving target.
Some people talk about addiction as though it were the same as a bad habit. Professionals will frequently employ an addiction definition that, while descriptive to the clinicians, leaves the rest of us glassy-eyed with a stream of saliva dribbling out the side of our mouth. Comedians use addiction as a punchline in their jokes. Some folks will even talk about addiction fondly and with pride. None of this is helpful to me.
The problem I ran into a long time ago was that while everybody else was doing this definitional barnyard dance, my life was a wreck and I was dying. I was going to be dead long before anyone reached a consensus about what addiction actually was. So I came up with my own addiction definition. I’m not saying it’s the best. I’m certainly not saying it’s scientifically accurate. I’m just saying that I can’t wait any longer! I need a definition that allows me to understand what’s wrong with me so I can get help and then help others.
Andrew’s addiction definition.
So here again is Andrew’s Addiction Definition:
- Some behavior is messing up my life. So I stop the behavior.
- Then I stop again. Then I stop again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
- I can’t stay stopped.
- I am addicted. I need help.
See, the proof of addiction isn’t in how often I engage in the behavior; it’s in how often I’ve tried to stop and failed.
Think about it! If I stopped consuming porn and engaging in self sex fifty times a year at age twenty and then stopped fifty more times each year until I died at the end of my 80th year, that would mean that I stopped my behavior about 3,000 times.
Another way of saying it is that I never stopped!
A little disclaimer: I’m not saying that I’m the first person to articulate the addiction definition in this way. I’m sure many people have already said pretty much the same thing long before I got a clue. My point is that for purposes of finding a solution to my problem, I needed to own an addiction definition. I couldn’t rely on other people to define what was wrong with me. My life was at stake.
OK, so armed with this definition of addiction, I looked at my life and saw–for the first time, really–that I was an addict. Now what? I needed to get help.
With the right addiction definition, I can get help and get well.
I found help in Sexaholics Anonymous. Years later I continue to attend at least three meetings a week. Oftentimes, it’s more like seven meetings a week. I’ve become willing to do whatever it takes. I have a sponsor and make a lot of phone calls. Guys in the program help me and I help them. I work the 12 Steps of AA as applied to lust addiction. I remove every vestige of lust in my life the same as a recovering alcoholic might get rid of every bottle he’s stashed around the house.
I am experiencing an ever more profound sobriety and recovery and if I continue to work this program of recovery, I will be sober to the end of my days. When I die, the Lord will wrap His loving arms around me and say, “Well done, though good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).
Some people may think it’s a bit odd that I see my addiction as a blessing. Yes, it’s been painful, both before recovery and since. But it has also been wondrous. I wouldn’t trade who I am today for anything else in this world.
[Image credit: Mark Pellegrini by way of Wikimedia Commons]