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[ Opinion ]

Addiction is Not a Disease

Obviously addiction seems real. Every year, in the United States alone, over 570,000 people die from Illicit drug use, close to 2 million people enter rehab centers, and an estimated 90% of addicts never enter a treatment program. The researchers and psychologists who study addiction have literally no proof on what causes addiction or how to “treat” it. As if it is the common cold. Addiction is entirely misunderstood, especially by those who have never experienced it.

As of right now: I have been up for who knows how many days, I can’t even remember the last time I ate food, and half the time I couldn’t even tell you what day it is. It is currently 6:13 AM on a Saturday morning. I had to look that up by the way. I am heading to work within the hour. The negative feelings that come with active addiction are incomprehensible, if you haven’t been through a withdrawal. Drugs are designed to warp your brain, to condition your brain to be physically dependent on them. However, the addiction I am speaking about is the mental side of addiction, not the chemical dependency.

I believe that everything they think they know about addiction is wrong, but I am also open-minded to the idea that I could be wrong. I have no idea what the real cause(s) of addiction are, however I do know what does not cause addiction.

Addiction is NOT a disease. There’s no proof, no evidence, no logical reasoning or even a solid basis for this hypothesis. This theory does not even make sense. There is even research showing that calling addiction a “disease” makes it more difficult for an addict to quit. Why call it a disease then?

Addiction is NOT caused from underlying mental health issues, there is also no evidence correlating mental health problems to matters of addiction. There are several studies on this subject but they show no proof in any way, shape or form of its validity. It is proven that drug use can induce mental health states such as schizophrenia and personality disorders after drug use, not before.

Another theory about addiction is that the “pleasure” centers of an addict’s brain react differently than non addicts. You know those really complicated happy chemicals in your brain dopamine and serotonin that you always hear about but really don’t know anything about? Some say that the addicts brains release more chemicals consequently resulting in a “happier” or “higher” state of consciousness, which makes using drugs more pleasurable for them. I call bullshit. If a “muggle” smokes meth, they are going to experience the same high as an addict.

Addiction is NOT caused by core issues. There are millions, even billions of people in the world who have core issues, yet a very miniscule amount of them turn out to be addicts. There is no link between “core issues” and addiction.

Psychiatrists love to say that addiction is caused by depression and is a form of self-medication. What came first the chicken or the egg? Drugs are designed to make you go crazy and become depressed. A side effect of anti-anxiety medication is ANXIETY. How does that even make sense? A side effect of ADHD medicine are also extremely problematic and even include LOSING FOCUS.

I respect these researchers and their work to help people in addiction. There are various types of theories on the source of addiction, but no definite answer. I doubt there ever will be.

I am an addict, but not always addicted to drugs. Sometimes my life consists of healthy addictions. The ironic part is that none of these healthy “addictions” are considered to be a disease. Or a mental health concern. Or a core issue. Or because my brain releases more dopamine when I get a 4.0 GPA than the other people who get a 3.0 GPA. 

These healthy “addictions” are beneficial and even extremely valuable to my life. Sometimes I am addicted to my personal success, my career goals, my beautiful wife (who is also an addict), physical fitness, family, friends, spirituality, reading, the newest Netflix TV series, or a certain new fitness drink that just hit the market. I am an addict, but that does not mean my addiction is a weakness or menace. Sometimes addiction is my best friend, but other times it is my worst enemy. Of course it is.

 It can be detrimental and outright debilitating. I’ve checked into rehab a handful of times. I’ve also been admitted to a psychiatric ward for being a nutcase. I should have checked into detox more times than I can count, because the drugs I love are the drugs that kill people. The drugs that kill people. Those are the best ones of course. That is exactly why they kill people.

 I maintain a 3.95 grade point average at the number one school in the nation for my field of study. I’m also a “criminal.” I cycled in and out of treatment centers for years. But, I also was a national caliber athlete. I am one of the most genuinely happy people you will ever come across in your life. I recently got engaged to the love of my life. I don’t handle my emotions perfectly, but I handle them pretty well. I have an obsession (or is it an addiction?) to my physical, mental, spiritual, and financial development.

The world has a law of polarity. It is full of ups and downs, along with left and rights. Likewise it is full of light and dark. I have fallen ridiculously low at certain points in my life. I’ve risen and experienced highlights of my life that most only dream up. The ups come with downs and that’s a fact. My so called “addiction” may have taken me to the pits of hell, and it still sporadically does. Yet, more often than not, it takes me above and beyond, and I enjoy this incredible quality of life and happiness.

The past three years I haven’t been in “recovery” and I’m probably not even qualified as “sober.” That is if you ask these treatment programs, institutions, psychiatrists, doctors, AA/NA members and I’m sure many ,many more. I don’t get high for extended periods of time. Anywhere from a month to a year and everywhere in between. People don’t consider that sober even if I don’t consume any drugs for months one end. How crazy is that?? 

You can be abstinent from drugs and alcohol and NOT BE CONSIDERED SOBER. If we follow that logic, does that mean you can USE drugs and alcohol but still be considered sober? Riddle me that one doctor.

None of this research on addiction adds up, makes sense, or has valid proof. In other words, we aren’t receiving all the information. Scientists and Psychologists are supposed to develop a hypothesis then test it and assess the results. It seem like these studies assume the results first, then run experiments and match it to their hypothesis.

In the past three years I consumed drugs, what most consider a relapse. I consciously made a choice to engage in a “controlled, uncontrollable binge.” I don’t get high because I am unhappy, mentally unhealthy, or have a disease. I choose to use drugs for the same reason I run long distance and the same reason I stay physically fit. I choose to use drugs for the same reason I have a 4.0 GPA. I love being high: for a short period of time, not a lifetime. I don’t get high to escape my life. I do it to enhance my life.

“Controlled, uncontrollable binge.” That’s a highly complex sentence. Not many people, addicts or “muggles” will understand that one. The people who do understand or even relate to that, I want you to know that there are others just like you. The best way to explain this concept is kind of like a rodeo: You choose to get on a bucking bull. You only have minimal, if any, control over the bull. You try to hang on for 8 seconds, get bucked off and hope you walk away. It’s a risk and I am willing to take that risk. Drugs make you feel that good, at the risk of your life. So do many other activities. Skydiving, nascar, athletics, certain businesses or adventures, etc.

I am 100% a truly full blown addict. I can be addicted to pretty much anything. Once I start using drugs, I lose myself, my personality, my mind and lose control over the amount I take along with many of my actions. I become deeply in touch with my feelings, emotions, who I am, what motivates me, and what is important in my life. 

Shortly after I start I will wake up one day, of course I will feel horrendous. Lethargic, depressed, suicidal, and withdrawing something terrible. I let my mind, body and spirit recover then I progress and I grow. I enter a honeymoon stage on top of this beautiful purple cloud. This is when I am extremely motivated and happy. I’m chasing after my goals with a passion and desire that makes me feel alive. I tend to keep living in the moment while envisioning a future for my life. I have a tendency to to bounce back quickly after these binges. I believe in mind over matter to a certain extent. Within days I am back to myself.

Am I an addict? Hell yeah. Does addiction even really exist though? Nobody actually knows.

But as I write this I am staring at the clock and watching the minutes until I go to work. My addiction is as real as it gets in this moment. Check back with me next week though and I’ll be at the gym crushing it, in the front row of my classes acing my tests, and taking my girl out on romantic dates. No drugs involved.

I don’t know what causes addiction or why certain people are addicts and others are not. I do believe that I know what does NOT cause an addiction. And a majority of what they “think” they know about addictions…………….is wrong.  

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