Maybe I am an addict…

So addiction is still on my mind as I’m still drinking coffee, even though I lamely tried not to. I’m playing with this idea that addiction might not just be a human thing, but something that basically all life is susceptible to. I’m not trying to look for excuses for my addictions, or for a cure. I’m just trying to understand them better, to be able to understand my own behaviour.

I had a little bounce back in time and remembered that as a child I was able to play the same game for hours and hours on end, every day, for weeks and weeks, until a new game came along. I also remember eating myself silly on sweets at birthday parties and drinking soda until I felt green with nausea. There was also the kids channel which I would get up at 6.30 for on a Saturday, to be able to watch at least until mum and dad got up at around 9 or 10 and change the channel. I remember watching telly for hours and hours if I could. And it was fine, cause you know, we were kids, that’s what you do. Impulse control is something you learn later on in life.

It seems though that sometimes this same kind of behaviour occurs in adults as well. People playing computer games for hours on end, eating entire packets of biscuits or crisps, litres of soft drinks, or watching a certain TV show religiously, every day without exception. When this behaviour occurs in adults though, it’s suddenly regarded as one’s own choice… Somewhere between being a kid and being an adult, the ‘ she can’t help it’ turns into ‘she is choosing to do this’.

I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days and wondering if maybe addiction is just such a big part of human nature that it should not be approached as something that comes from a diseased mind, but from a natural process that needs acknowledging and controlling. I think many animals display addiction symptoms, the most obvious being dogs. Our dog could play fetch for freakin hours, and I’ve seen many dogs eat themselves to utter wobbly chubbiness. Overeating for example isn’t just a human problem I think. Goldfish tend to even eat themselves to death if there is an abundance of food.

Yet I’ve noticed many people look at overweight people as being stupid for not eating the right kind of stuff and the right amounts. It’s kind of seen as a choice someone makes to overeat or eat unhealthy food and although I do have a bit of a loud and obnoxious opinion on modern food and diet, I also think it’s important to recognise the difficulty of choosing to eat healthily. It’s difficult, it’s expensive, it’s no fun, it goes against what you really want right now and involves a lot of energy. And sometimes even with all that effort, a healthy diet doesn’t even work for people to lose weight. (more on that in a later post)

If adult ‘harmless’ habits like playing computer games, overeating or watching telly all day are choices, then maybe addiction is something like ‘being unable to choose not to’. And maybe having to choose to not please yourself with something goes against our nature. I guess everyday things like games, wheat, television, coffee etc. seem to be triggered by an abundance of stuff that makes you feel good. And of course we live in a time of abundance, where we can literally buy all the food we want, play all the games we want, watch telly all day, drink coffee til we drop, smoke heaps of tobacco and drink alcohol most nights. There’s enough of it around, making it really hard to choose to not use it. A lot harder at least than when it’s just not there.

Now I really am not advocating for having all types of triggers removed, we are adults after all and shouldn’t need a babysitter. But I do think we need to recognize our own addictions and how hard it is to get rid of them, before we judge the addictions of others. I’m not talking about the harm or harmlessness of them, but the actual process of quitting. I think it would be good to at least get rid of one of the symptoms of addiction, which is denial. And the path to getting rid of denial is proper recognition.

I’m quite addicted to coffee, although something in my mind still says ‘no I CHOOSE to drink coffee, because I like it’. But it’s when I start to think about never drinking coffee again that I panic a bit. Because I do really like coffee. I am a bit of an addict and am unable (today) to choose to not drink it. I’ve overcome other addictions before, so I know that I should be able to make that choice at some point. But maybe I need a good enough reason, something to hit home. It’s hard though, with all these amazing coffee shops around me.

And you know, in the end some of our addictions are pretty harmless. Some addictions might be slightly annoying to others but then again, sometimes it is really nice to have a reoccurring thing to fall back on and get pleased by. Sometimes they are even worth the adverse long term effects. Someone said that life is our greatest addiction, and as the long term cost is of course aging and death, that’s pretty much accurate. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it though… agh, I don’t know.

In the end, I’m no expert and this is all just a mind blurb. Again, as stated in the previous post, addiction comes in many forms and sizes. I’m talking about more everyday life addictions here I think, and feel like I shouldn’t even go near the subjects of alcohol and hard drugs for lack of education and lack of knowing what I’m talking about. It’s brain storms, mind blurbs, thought trains.

Bedtime

Jude

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