Sunday, February 21, 2010


Compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful--

So says Merriam-Webster.

I've been thinking a lot about addictions in the last few months. Truth be known, it's been on MY radar my entire life.

In the past, when I've been confronted with something that has worried me or just down right scared me, I've always tried to educate myself. When a family member was diagnosed with breast cancer in its later stages I read everything I could get my hands on. When another had contracted a lethal case of Lymphoma, I educated myself. I knew nothing about cancer and frankly it terrified me. With the new found knowledge that it didn't have to be a death sentence, or even if it was, I was able to support and nurture these people without the fear and awkwardness that ignorance fosters.

It's different now. Yes addiction scares me. Addiction makes me uncomfortable. Yet I've had no desire to educate myself on just WHAT addiction is. I've always said that I didn't WANT to understand addiction. Addiction is what led an otherwise caring, loving man to throw not 1 family but 2 families away. Addiction enticed a young mother to abandon her 2 small children and her family. Addiction forced other loved ones to self destruct, dying in their prime. So, yes in a way I DON'T want to understand it. I don't want to understand that thing that drives someone to steal from their own family and I don't want to understand what makes someone who apparently has it all, a beautiful wife, gorgeous kids AND a weakness for drink. What can they be running from? What demons are chasing them?

I do wonder sometimes if addiction is a sickness. A sickness of the mind. Is it a genetic defect? a bad link in the DNA chain?
Or is it a weakness? A character without spine? Or a combination of both.. And maybe that's one of the reasons I don't WANT to know. Maybe that new found knowledge will be the mirror that reflects my own weaknesses.

Mine has been cigarettes. To be quite honest I can't remember a time when I didn't smoke. My 20 little buddies, neatly lined up and always ready to console me, congratulate me, or sympathize with me. Oh, sure. I've tried to "run" with a different crowd. Find more suitable playmates, but like the sirens song, they always woo me back to their rocky shores. I've been told more times than I can count that I'll stop when I'm ready to stop. Of the 20 odd times I've tried, I was convinced that I was ready. Whether it be an hour, a week or a year the cigarettes always showed up at my door, begging me to come out and play.

My point, if I have one is, in light of my own frailties should I overlook someone else's? Do I keep going to the trough of forgiveness and empathy to try and better understand their special circumstances. Or at some point do I just write them off as a lost cause? Accept that they are too far down the path to make a u-turn. No. I'll always be there, cheering their victories and lamenting their defeats. After all, that's what I would hope for in return.

Addictions. We all have them I suppose. I know I do. Some are harmless, some are not. Some can be broken, some can not.
One day I may seek to find the answer to the question. Just not now. So I pray, that as we all march towards our "reward", we don't receive that "reward"... prematurely.