Can Addiction Be Good?

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Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat. Addiction is not a desirable malady to endure. No one should strive for it. It is not an endeavor to be championed. It’s a destructive, selfish, painful affliction that ruins lives and strains society.

Okay, so now that I have that out of the way, why the hell would I even being to suggest that addiction could possibly be good?

All These Emotions

Certain emotions get a bad rap. Depression, anger, guilt, loneliness, jealousy, anxiety… It’s easy to think of these feelings as negative because you feel like shit. Since most people aren’t into feeling like shit, there is a rush to box up all those emotions as downright stinky, bad enough as to avoid them at all costs.

At the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, we have happiness, love, excitement, anticipation and their ilk. These are emotions we strive for because, hey, they feel good. Since feeling good feels so darn good, these emotions are considered premium and are sought after. We even have substances and activities encourage or create them for us.

That’s a tell, right there. We, as a society, do our absolute best to move the whole of our life experience into the good collection of emotions and we do it regardless of what the negative feelings might be trying to tell us about how we live our lives. After all, it’s easy to become detached from reality when in the mire of depression or guilt. We tend to focus on the feeling itself rather than where it came from. When we’re down, the number one goal is to do something that makes us feel instantly better, and it doesn’t need to address the issue at hand. Boyfriend broke up with you? Have a drink. Lost your job? Let’s get high. Obviously, beer and marijuana are not horrible, evil substances. It’s okay to partake from time to time for most of us. The problems start when they start to blind us to a life that is falling apart or just plain not working for us.

As an example, let’s say last week I was hit by a blimp. Now, I’m in a fair amount of pain and discomfort due to the trauma of the blimp’s impact. I didn’t see it coming (I know. How the hell did I NOT see a blimp coming?) and, to top it off, I was standing on something of a precipice so, naturally, I took a rather bad tumble.

And it was a long tumble. There were rocks, tree branches, power lines. I’m fairly certain a honey badger rushed out and bit me as I flailed by. Once at the bottom, I landed on my back but the ground was not flat. There was a rock about the size of a tennis ball. So the finishing move was a sucker punch to the left kidney from the Earth.

Badger

Okay, so I’m getting carried away with my example. My point is that, providing I survived all this, the doctor is likely going to prescribe some pain killers. Let’s face it, going through that kind of brutal event is going to be followed by a painful recovery and a little something to take the pain away will be welcomed with open arms. I might not be able to literally open my arms immediately after such a fall, but you get the idea.

Here is where my point comes in. The pain killers are there so I’m not in complete, praying-for-death, agony. They are not meant for me to get up and take a jog down to Billy’s Blimp Emporium and size up my next encounter. Nor should they be used to head back out to the edge of my cliff and wait around for the honey badger.

As another example, NFL players will sustain injuries during a game, get injected with some fairly potent pain killers, pop their helmets back on and proceed to beat the hell out of themselves some more. The pain has been deadened but they are not healed. In fact they continue to injure themselves without knowing it.

What’s Does This Have to Do with Addiction Possibly Being Good?

We all get the metaphors illustrated above and how it can become a path to addiction. Usually, it’s more than just one thing that drives a person to addiction. It can be a combination of an abusive upbringing, fear of failure, physical ailments, traumatic experiences, be they emotional or physical, or countless other reasons.

I’m also pretty sure we all understand that knowing the personal vectors that led us to addiction are the only way we’ll recover.

So while addiction itself is horrible, for those of us dealing with recovery or for those people who consider themselves recovered, addiction can become a rather loud barometer. If I find myself being drawn back into thoughts of using again, I know something in my life is amiss. If I’m considering going down some familiar, unhealthy roads, that’s when I stop and think about what I might be neglecting in myself. It might sound strange but this is part of the overall positive attitude I’ve built for myself in the wake of my addiction. The whole experience has been a big, red flag showing me where I’ve been failing myself for my whole life. And, if I pay attention, it will continue to show me when I’m veering off course.

So, I’m thinking about going back to my old habits? Then there’s probably a honey badger lurking, or maybe I’m finding myself standing at the edge of another cliff for no good reason, and perhaps, a better use of my time would be somewhere other than at a blimp showroom.

Don’t get me wrong. I still wish I had never gotten so lost as to become an addict. But now that I am facing my addiction and building a better life, I am leaving regret behind and instead using my addiction to guide me. I just have to listen, and then act.

 

Remember, I’m not a trained professional. If you are considering making a change in your life based on anything you find on my site, always consult with a therapist and/or doctor first.