In Love with Addiction?
All of us fall in love at one time or another. You remember how it feels: the butterflies in your stomach, the incessant thoughts of the other person, and the warm feelings that erupt when you're with your Romeo or Juliet. Suddenly, the world is nothing compared to your beloved.
When you're in love, you have tunnel vision. Everything else pales in comparison to the passion for your newfound flame. You long for the time of your next rendezvous. And your heart feels as if it would break when you are not with him or her. The only thing that soothes the ache is your lover's presence.
But, ironically, you may not know you're in love. With bewildered faces, your friends and family may even have to point it out before it dawns on you, "Hey, I think I'm in love." Pedro Calderon de la Barca, a Catholic priest, writer and poet, once said, "When love is not madness, it is not love." Something about love causes us to throw caution to the wind and even ignore our best judgment. It grabs us by the scruff of the neck and commands us where to go.
Love is beautiful, captivating, and pure, but it can also be imprisoning and painful. Anyone who journeys the rocky path of addiction encounters the darker side of love. Addictions pull its victim away from the world, create tunnel vision, and move contrary to its prey's best judgment. Addictions bombard us with thoughts of our drug or behavior of choice and paint our world in shades gray. The hunger of our ravaging beast abates only when we feed it.
Maybe, it is too strong of a comparison to link love with the pull of addiction, but the similarities are striking. And we know it. So, the obvious question is, "Are you an addict?"
- Do you feel the dark power of a substance, a behavior, or even a person?
- Does it feel more real to you or comfort you more than anything else?
- Is it something you can't live without?
Bear in mind, simply because we really enjoy something – playing golf, getting pedicures, looking forward to our weekly night out with the girls or guys, indulging in the occasional sweet treat, or even drinking in moderation – does not mean we are addicted. For example, just because a person talks to himself every now and then, does not mean he is schizophrenic and destined for the state mental hospital.
Instead, there are important signs that point to addiction. Ask yourself the following questions. In the interest of simplicity, we will refer to your addiction as drinking – although, there are many types of addictions. Simply, replace the word "drink" with your favorite habit or drug-of-choice.
- Have you ever felt you should cut back on your drinking?
- Has anyone commented about your drinking excessively?
- Are you unhappy, feel depressed, or believe your life is out of control?
- Have you ever felt guilty or badly about drinking?
- Do you drink to build self-confidence?
- Is it getting harder to keep your life manageable – making up excuses for being late for work or not at all, hiding your drinking, trying to act normal, or pretending to be OK?
- Is drinking affecting your reputation?
- Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
- Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
- Do you drink to escape from worries or troubles?
- Have you experienced memory blackouts more frequently?
- Do you find yourself focusing on alcohol to the exclusion of work and family responsibilities?
- Does the thought of living without alcohol seem impossible or too painful?
- Have you tried to stop or cut down only to find that you're drinking again after a short time?
- Do you continue to drink despite negative consequences?
So, how did you do? If you answered yes to even a few of these questions, you are more than likely an addict. At the very least, you have a drinking problem. Facing the reality that you have a problem is the very beginning of recovery. It is not hopeless for you. While your situation may have its own unique features, your condition is common to many people struggling with or recovering from an addiction.
The Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu (604 – 521 BC) said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The love for your addiction has yanked you around long enough. No one can say "no" to its control, but you. In doing so, you take the first step to disarming the beast that is vying for your soul. Today, seek help, and take steps to fall out of love with your addiction. You'll find that the love of recovery and a renewed life is so much better.