Once an addict… ?

Posted on October 1st, 2014 @ 22:02 in Uncategorized

So here’s an interesting article: Most People With Addiction Simply Grow Out of It: Why Is This Widely Denied? The author, Maia Szalavitz, is “one of the [America’s] leading neuroscience and addiction journalists” (and also a respected Mefite).

There is of course a Mefi thread about it, also worth reading. Many members post about their personal experience with addiction, which invariably colours their view of it. This is certainly the case for me too, but I also realised I don’t really… have an opinion, a preference for one interpretation over another (disease vs. choice vs. developmental disorder, lifelong problem or not, etc.). I certainly have a theory, or theories, and some things seem more applicable to me than others. For instance, this comment by kokaku sure rang true:

I’d be curious to know (I didn’t RTFA) how many people who grow out of their addictions to negatively-reinforcing activities (e.g. alcohol, drugs) have shifted those addictive tendencies to either less detrimental activities or positively-reinforcing ones (e.g. exercise, social activities). The addictive habit remains but is being channeled into less harmful/more beneficial action.

I’ve always maintained that I have “an addictive personality” – but sometimes I do wonder how much of that is self-fulfilling prophecy. On some level it becomes an excuse for indulgence and excess (same for genetics. This is why my LJ username is license_to_fail).

I’m certainly a different person today than I was 10 years ago. Or, well, same person, but with different habits and a different approach to life. Still, does that mean I am no longer an addict? (Some people would argue yes. Not everyone subscribes to the AA-type view that you’re an alcoholic for life.) In that context, the author’s own comment in the thread is also relevant:

But mostly, [addiction] doesn’t happen for the first time late in life because by that stage of life, if you haven’t previously escaped your problems via addictive behavior, you have alternative ways of coping and you have learned to use them and so even when you are faced with a very pleasurable option and the rest of your life isn’t so hot, you don’t develop that compulsion around it.

[…] If you have a past addiction, however, and you fall onto hard time and haven’t been able to develop real alternative ways of taking care of yourself, you are definitely at risk.

Have I developed alternative ways of coping? I find this is something I am unable to say, having not really fallen onto hard times since getting sober. Time will tell I guess. (It’s almost exciting, right?)

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