Thoughts on Addictions and Public Perception

From The Free Thought Project’s Facebook page

I came across the attached image today on the Free Thought Project’s Facebook page. The variety of reactions to it were pretty amazing. Lots of LOLs. Several WOWs. For the most part all people were acknowledging was that the two figures in the bottom image were gross and out of control. The sad thing? That was not where I was going by sharing it. Not at all. The range of (to me) inappropriate reactions just proved my point.

Too often, when we think of addictions, we only visualize people out of control as a result of using drugs. But the truth is, we are almost all hostage to one addiction or another. The fact that the devastation is not as obvious as alcoholism or substance abuse seems to make people complacent. They don’t believe they  could possibly be suffering from addiction.

But think about it. Forget for a moment the FDA, doctors, addiction treatment industry, etc.. In dictionaries, “addiction” is defined as “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing or activity”.  The definition of “addicted” is defined as “physically and mentally dependant upon a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects” and “enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity”.

By those simplest of definitions we are all, to one degree or another, in the throes of addiction. It would appear without any narration that the women in the image are addicted to “junk” food. It is a very real addiction, by the way, that thousands of people seek treatment for all the time.

I know a couple of people, both male and female, who are addicted to sex. Yes, sex. When that is all you can think about and your life is built around getting some, and your relationships that matter, and your job are adversely affected by it, it’s a legitimate addiction. And yes, people seek treatment for it all the time.

How about the people who have to get to the casino or play the pull-tabs at the bar… to the detriment and neglect of the rest of their lives? Same thing.

For me, it’s those two cups of coffee every morning. For all too many people, it’s their electronic devices.

So when anyone looks down on or disparages people suffering from addictions I can’t help but wonder… “What do you need to make your day or get you through the day?”

People think I’m joking when I say, “Yes, my name is Maryanne and I am a coffee addict.” It’s not really a joke. It’s an acknowledgement of a thing in my life that could be detrimental to my well being if I wasn’t able to limit it, but that I partake of in spite of that knowledge. Same goes for my cigarette addiction. Until recently I was also a bit (okay, more than a bit) of a workaholic. I was a basket case when I was working and when I stepped away from it, I was a whole different kind of basket case! It’s taken a lot of (pardon the not so punny pun) “work” to learn how to relax and take things as they come, at a slower, more relaxed pace.

People who are in AA have accused me of denigrating their program or making fun of them when I say, “my name is Maryanne and I am a coffee addict.” No way, Jose! I am simply admitting that I am no better or worse than they. I am human and in need of self care just as much as any one of them. I acknowledge, in my statement, that I am as human and prone to self destructive tendencies as they once were. I am refusing to be a hypocrite.

So next time you find yourself looking down your nose at a person in the throes of addiction may I make a suggestion? Stop. Honestly look at yourself and your own life. If you can honestly say you do not have any addictions of your own I honestly congratulate you. If you can’t? Then you need to stop being a hypocrite and start having some compassion for people who, but for the grace of God, good choices and good genes, could be YOU!

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