The seduction of addiction

To those with no direct experience, addiction is perplexing. It’s completely counter intuitive. Perhaps the best way to understand how so many of us become addicted is to think of it as a seduction:

Our drug of choice initially offered relief and comfort from unbearable pain…but only until it had us in its grasp. Then it progressively became our master.

It is the detonator that sparks the implosions.

It teaches us to lie to ourselves about what it’s doing to us.

Alcohol/drugs are toxic – we all know this intellectually, but our disease prevents us from seeing it’s ravaging effects on our minds, bodies, and spirits.

It’s very similar to what perpetrators do to gain control:

If a lover lured you in with false promises and initially made you feel wonderful

You’d want to continue. We’re fallible because we make important decisions based on how things feel and without regard to our well-being (we don’t protect what we don’t value). We are lulled into a false sense of security because it’s better than what we’ve known.

Seemingly overnight, the lover becomes an abuser. It demands all of our time and attention, all of our money and energy. It is beyond possessive. It takes everything we have. Progressively it destroys any sense of self. It hurts you, makes you feel numb at best.  Gradually, everything feels empty. You know that it is bad for you except…

There is no more “you.” There’s just the daily hustle of the getting and the doing and the cycle gets tighter and faster as you go.

You try to break free…that’s the most dangerous of times – whether your abuse is from a person or a substance.

You struggle. You try to leave but the obstacles are many and the temptation to give up is ever present. When you stop fighting, you redirect, isolate, and implode.

You are sick and it keeps beckoning you with the promise of taking your pain away. It prays upon your fears and insecurities. It injects a bit of false hope.

It’s all a lie, but a very attractive one…the desperate desire for it to be good again…

It gets increasingly painful as you go. Looking back, you see the lines you swore you’d never cross. Addiction is betrayal and violation that is most often experienced by those who have a long history of being betrayed and violated.

You’re ashamed of having been deceived. This is piled upon the shame you already held. Too many of us despair that we are hopeless. That false beliefs alone can seal our fate.

As long as we remain vertical and breathing, recovery remains possible. We come to accept the responsibilities of healing and change. Accountability and willingness are everything. Focus on getting better, not on how you got here.

Recovery requires being true to self, in a time where the only sense of self we have is of someone who is not worthy of a good life. This is the leap of faith required: others just like me attained abstinence and change – so I can too.

Recovery (from addiction, abuse, trauma, or other horrible things that happen to good people) is one of the hardest things a human being can do. We must not succumb to the overwhelming desire to go back. I have seen folks make great strides in part by writing a goodbye letter to their abuser or their drug of choice. There’s no need to send it, the goal is conviction. The result is a conscious and daily choice to be free.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.