Monday, March 12, 2007

I want...

Have you felt like you possibly cannot carry on without a certain something? Felt like acquiring it even if it meant kicking someone in the nuts? Or perhaps, getting it in exchange to one of your most priced possession? If yes, welcome. You have successfully stepped into the realm of Addiction. When I say addiction, I am not merely talking about narcotic drug addiction as most of you may think. This is also about the addiction that people do not give much importance to and realize only when it eats you up from within.

Addiction to any drug may include these general characteristics:

  1. Feeling that you need the drug regularly and, in some cases, many times a day.

  2. Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug .

  3. Failing repeatedly in your attempts to stop using the drug .

  4. Doing things to obtain the drug that you normally wouldn't do.

  5. Feeling that you need the drug to deal with your problems.

  6. Indulging in activities that place you and others at risk of physical harm when you're under the influence of the drug .

Do you think all this is applicable ONLY to drug addiction? Have you ever felt one or more of the above symptom when you are in or just out of a relationship? Or when don't get to buy new clothes every week for one week?( That's just me). People addiction can be as hampering as any other addiction. In fact, it could be worse. Drugs only kill a person physically, addiction to a certain someone kills you from within. Maybe the Surgeon General hasn't determined it yet, but staying in a bad realtionship maybe dangerous to your health. It can shake your self-esteem and destroy your self-confidence as surely as smoking(!) can damage your lungs.

When people say that the relationship with their partner is killing them, it may be true. The tensions and chemical changes caused by stress can throw any of your organ systems out of kilter, can drain your energy and lower your resistance to all manner of unfriendly bugs. And often it can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, reckless pursuits and even overt suicidal acts. But even if there were no threat to your health, staying too long in a relationship that is deadening, or deadly, can cloud your life with frustration, anger, emptiness and despair. You may have tried to improve it, to breathe life back into it, but you have found that your efforts have been futile- and demoralizing.

Sometimes, basically rational and practical people find it hard to let go and feel like somthing is holding them back. They remain intensly involved with a partner who is consistently rejecting, who repeatedly causes them pain. Why, when they try to give up this relationship, do they experience even more acute torment? The person is probaby thinking "He/She loves me but just doesn't know how to show it."

Reviewing many studies of drug addiction it is noted that the addicting element is not so much in the substance (such as alcohol or tobacco or a narcotic) but in the person who is addicted. In love relationships, this addictive element takes the form of a compelling need to connect with and to remain connected with a particular person. But is this need always an addiction? Why call it an addiction at all? Why not simply call it love or preference or a sense of commitment?

Often there is a lot of love and commitment in an addictive relationship, but to be genuinely loving and committed one must freely choose another person, and one of the hallmarks of an addiction is that it is a compulsive drive which, by definition, means that it limits this freedom. The alcoholic or drug addict feels driven toward the addictive substance even when he knows it is bad for him. And when there is a strong addictive element in a relationship, the feeling is "I must have this person, and I must remain attached to this person, even if this relationship is bad for me."

So the first indication that we are dealing with an addiction is its compulsive quality. The second is the panic one feels at the possible absence of the substance. Alcoholics often feel panic when they are not sure where the next drink is coming from. Drug addicts experience this fear when their supply of drugs is running out. Nicotine addicts may become very uneasy about being in a place where smoking is not permitted. And people in an addictive relationship may experience overwhelming panic at the thought of breaking the relationship. I have often heard of people sitting at the telephone and beginning to dial the number of their partner in an unhappy love affair, determined to tell him or her that it is all over, but their anxiety becomes so great they have to hang up.

The third hallmark of an addiction is the withdrawal symptoms. As bad as the panic is in contemplating or moving toward a possible breakup, it cannot compare to the devastation when the breakup actually happens. A person who has just ended an addictive relationship may suffer greater agony than drug addicts, smokers, and alcoholics endure when they go cold turkey, and in many ways the reaction is similar. Often, for example, there is physical pain (the chest, stomach, and abdomen are particularly reactive), weeping, sleep disturbances (some people can't sleep, others may sleep too much), irritability, depression, and the feeling that there is no place to go and no way to end the discomfort except to go back to the old substance (person). The craving can become so intense it often defeats the sufferer's best intentions and drives him right back to the source of his addiction.

The fourth hallmark of an addiction is that after the mourning period, there is often a sense of liberation, triumph, and accomplishment. This differs from the slow, sad acceptance and healing that follows a non-addictive loss.

Underlying all these reactions, the essential similarity between addicts, whether their addiction is to a substance or a person, is a sense of incompleteness, emptiness, despair, sadness, and being lost that he believes he can remedy only through his connection to something or someone outside himself. This something or someone becomes the center of his existence, and he is willing to do himself a great deal of damage to keep his connection with it intact.

“You do anything long enough to escape the habit of living until the escape becomes the habit.”

- David Ryan

Labels: , , ,