What is Addiction?
By Justin Nolan, Director Client Liaison, 21Renew
“You’re a drug addict and an alcoholic. You need rehab…”
I will never forget the gentleman who said these words to me.
I was just 25 years old at the time. I had already recently separated from my partner, and within the space of one month, I continued to lose my job, study and motivation to train as a professional in my sport. What this gentleman (even though at the time I thought of a few other things to call him) said to me, shocked and angered me. How dare he….. Who was he to make that judgement….up until one month prior to that I had a beautiful partner, a great job in recruitment, I was furthering my education through part time study and I was looking to book in my next sporting event. Life was ok, I was ok. But….
He was right. I was dependently drinking alcohol and using other drugs. I was starting to become less accountable and less productive, and little things were really starting to get the better of me. I was short tempered, irrational and controlling. All my mates were kicking on, getting married, travelling and successfully achieving in their careers. I felt stuck- constantly comparing myself to others. My Doctor had prescribed me Zoloft (medication for major depression) and I was increasing the dose of that week by week. I was severely depressed and as I started to lose things I slipped further and further into depression.
What that gentleman said to me, really got me thinking! How could alcohol be a problem?… I was not as bad as some I knew. How could the odd joint here or there, and a few beers, make me an alcoholic, a drug addict or someone suffering from addiction? Why am I depressed when really I have everything?
Addiction is cunning, relentless, confusing and overwhelming. What I thought was a solution, became the problem. But, I was the last to find out….
Classically, the symptoms of addiction are:
Loss of Control over the substance. Finding yourself drinking and using against your best intentions to abstain.
Craving. When the drugs and alcohol begin to leave your system, you find yourself physically yearning more, and mentally obsessing over how and when. You are likely to suffer some withdrawal symptoms when you do abstain.
Persistent use in spite of the consequences. The pain you cause yourself and others does not give you enough power to stop.
I had to admit. I had all three.
The ongoing controversy and vigorous debate in this field is whether addiction to substances and/or behaviours is a disease? The definition of addiction is: “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”
As much as I didn’t want it to be true, that gentleman had a point. I was clearly displaying behaviors’ of addiction, yet I had massive reservations about the label. I was obviously enslaved and was in some degree of shock and trauma, as my life started to unravel, and I found myself helpless to do anything about it.
In the years that followed, through to my life in recovery today, there is one big thing I learned through my experience and others around me. It NEVER gets any better. Addiction is cunning and baffling and it only continues to get worse, with more pain and more consequences. The longer I resisted recovery, the longer I kept myself away from the freedom and joy of life I have today.
At 21Renew, we specialize in defining your understanding of addiction. Through a process of education, activity, diet & exercise we assist you in deriving a plan that will help you long term, in a beautiful setting where you will relax and unwind quickly.
Everyone is different, what works for some may not work for you. So we work with you to create options that provide you with the confidence, clarity and drive to capitalize on your strengths. What we do at 21Renew is unique, proven and our results speak for themselves.