The #1 & ONLY Reason addicts & alcoholics drink and use
by Sandra Lenington

In the beginning, before addiction takes hold, the use of alcohol, behaviors such as gambling, drugs or other substances can begin innocently enough. There may be a celebration, party or peer influence to try the substance. The person who becomes addicted enjoys the experience so much and loves the effects. S/he seeks it out again and again.

An example of this would be somebody who happens to be shy. He might discover that if he takes a drink, as a way of coping with social interactions, that all of a sudden he walks taller, he dances better, or he’s funnier around his friends.

As use increases, there may be problems that arise, such as getting drunk and sick in public, or losing money gambling, for example. However, the effect produced by the substance or behavior is more desired than the alternative and once addiction is in full force, the addiction becomes a way of life and the person is unable to stop without discomfort, which triggers the use again.

The behavior or substance is indulged in either as a way of feeling better about oneself or as a way of avoiding pain. What usually happens with addiction is that a person turns to drugs or a behavior such as overeating or pornography because s/he is not comfortable in a situation or because s/he is having uncomfortable feelings and the drug or behavior changes the feeling temporarily.

So the substance or the behavior is a way of handling the uncomfortable situation or feeling. Addiction is a way to change the way one feels.

The #1 and ONLY reason people drink and use addictively is to change how they feel.
According to the Alcoholics Anonymous, the textbook for AA,
The Doctor’s Opinion, p.xxviii
“Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. “

Therefore he needs a drink to face the day, to relax, to take the edge off, or she needs some meth to lose weight, to give her energy, to feel competent and in charge. The feelings are varied but the use is always seen as a way to cope with life, people, job or duties. Once the discomfort appears, s/he begins to fantasize about the relief s/he receives from the drug of choice. S/he may resist at first but eventually the thinking takes over (eg “I will only have one.” “This time will be different.”) and s/he begins to plan mentally how and when s/he will use. There is a mental “blank spot” about where this use will take the person. Pretty soon s/he is overindulging and is drunk or stoned or has passed out. When s/he comes to, s/he is disgusted and remorseful and wonders how this could have happened. Then s/he swears s/he will never do it again. And the cycle contines…

As the addiction progresses, the solution to the problem of being shy in social situations (drugs, alcohol, pornography) then actually becomes the problem because it requires more and more of the substance or behavior in order to achieve the same result. More and more problems ensue and the person, who is truly addicted, can no longer stop on the basis of self-will or knowledge. This is a sad reality that may continue for many years.

Our next article will illustrate the thinking that keeps the addict chained in the prison of addiction.


Author’s Bio: 

Sandra Lenington, MA is an authority on the psychology of recovery with a purpose of assisting others to experience the psychic change that is sufficient to assure a life of irresistible joy and balance. As a life-long learner and lover of new and fun techniques, she insists that recovery be joyful…otherwise, why do it? The bottom line? If it doesn’t work, try something else!

She also trains other coaches and previously has worked as a physical therapist as well as having owned several companies that develop websites; she has worked for NASA as a research engineer.


Stay tuned…

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