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My best understanding of addiction


My best understanding of addiction
This is a post I wrote and saved because so many people told me it helped them understand their loved one's behavior. I dunno, it just seemed like a good time to repost it since I was reading some things about this here recently.

Also.. It explains some things that a lot of addicts can learn from too I think when it comes to understanding why we can *never* use again.


Addiction is a tricky thing. The reason its so hard to pin down is this, you never *have* to use. Doing dope is always a choice. We always want to think that at some point its no longer a choice and thats when you're an addict.

When you first start using you don't use it because you need it, you use it because you like it. Well why do you like it? Because of the chemical effect it has on your brain. Most people will insist at least for a while that they don't have a problem, they can quit using whenever they want. The reason its tough for them to recognize their addiction is because what they say is true. With meth it isn't about what you can or cannot do, its about what you will or will not do. Addiction rewires your priorities so that you don't *want* to quit. The option is always there.

What addiction is in my opinion is your brain being conditioned to want the drug. You will never NEED the drug. That is where so much confusion lies. Really the comedown from meth is not nearly as nasty as from heroin. I've heard people argue this point but I've watched friend come down from heroin in agony for days, unable to sleep and feeling like their body is tearing itself apart. In a way that makes it harder to quit using meth though. With something like heroin its easy to tell when you're addicted. With meth all you can think is that you dont feel addicted, you feel fine... Even as meth begins to tear your life down piece by piece you think that it isn't meth thats the problem, meth is your choice, because it is.

Meth doesn't make you feel like you're dying when you don't have it, instead it slowly trains your brain into being more and more focused on meth as the most important thing in life. In my opinion that's one reason the relapse rate is so high. Its hard to convince yourself you cant control an addiction when you look back and cant understand why you didn't just choose to only use occasionally. I mean, its like, you try to examine what you did and the answer seems simple, just use less this time, right? Wrong. Meth always will insinuate itself into your thinking until it becomes the top priority. Meth is like the blind spot in your eye that you cant see is there. As addicts we look back at the time we were using and we see that meth doesn't look so destructive. It was our choices that destroyed us, next time will be different. The reason for this is that meth changes our priorities in such a way that we make the choices that destroy us so we can never catch meth red handed, obviously at fault for our downfall.

Inevitably addicts will shun friends, family and others who are important to them in favor of meth. To them this seems normal at the time because meth has made itself number one. They don't feel like they cant go without it... rather they feel like using is just the best idea.... always. It isnt that they don't like those people anymore, it's that they like the way meth makes them feel more than they like the way those relationships make them feel.

Why is it so hard to quit?

Why do addicts keep going back to situations that have been so destructive for them in the past? They go back to these situations because the meth made even their destruction feel so much better than even being with family, being loved, and being helped. It's hard to understand for someone who has never used meth but its simple really. Meth makes you feel like everything is good, nothing is sad, and everything is ok. You can loose your house but it will still feel okay as long as your brain has enough meth in it. Because of this when you first try and quit suddenly you're facing all the pain you've created while using. Once you lose your house, your job, your friends then using becomes the only way to feel happy. After all, when you stop using you have to face the wreckage your addiction has left in it's wake. You've let your entire life collapse to feed your addiction to meth and now, suddenly sober, you've lost all that for nothing because meth is gone.
That is the point so many addicts reach when they get out of jail, or decide to get clean. Their family watches in horror as the addict instead of getting a job, living in a clean house away from all those terrible things goes running back toward their own undoing. The family sees meth as only a destroyer but the addict sees it as their only savior. The only way to make life ok again.

Once you get clean there is the problem of relapse. People will be clean for a few months then completely inexplicable to their family they run back and use again. This is because even sober from meth looking back at your days using you see an appeal to it all. Meth associates itself with those memories so that you remember nights spent awake in some dirty trailer with some of the sketchiest people you've ever met as being the time of your life. People who arn't addicts have hobbies they do, they mountain bike, or they play a game, or whatever. They look back on times doing that as being fun and thats why they do it again. With meth, you look back on any activity, and because you were high it is remembered as being incredibly enjoyable.

For me personally that was one the hardest parts. I quit meth but I had this incredibly strong urge to go back to dealing and cooking meth. Not because these things were fun but because my brain had associated dealing and cooking with feeling incredibly good because at the time I was using a lot of meth. I remember that's how I relapsed my first time. I was cooking meth sober... and it just wasn't fun, so I started using again.

In the end the hardest part is that you CAN quit whenever you want to. You never have to do it... so you always use by your own free will. Because of this you can always fool yourself into thinking next time you will use that free will to do it better. Or fooling yourself into thinking you can quit whenever you want, or fooling yourself into believing it isn't a problem. Because after all, if it was a problem you'd stop, right?

The only answer I know to that is the first step of the 12 step program. Admitting you are powerless over drugs/alcohol. Only when you accept that you will never be able to control your behavior when using can you really decide to never use again. As long as you harbor doubts thinking maybe you are strong enough you will use again and be humbled again.

The mistake I see so many addicts make is they try to figure out what they're doing wrong. They try to figure out a way to beat the system, to be a happy user who has control. The thing they're missing is that as soon as you introduce meth to the system you're doing something wrong and nothing you do from that point on will save you as long as you are using meth. Not because meth has any quality that you can't get around, but because it will make you beat yourself. Meth will make you decide to destroy yourself in the end unless you recognize it in time.

I think I also geared it toward explaining an addicts thinking to families a bit more.
Re: My best understanding of addiction
This is a great post Space. It explains things in a matter of fact way that is so right on.

One of the reasons I chose to stop using was because I realized that using meth was not normal. I always knew what I was doing was wrong, but suddenly I had a moment of clarity when I realized normal people did not sit around tweaking for days. Normal people had BBQs on weekends, and went camping with their friends. Normal people had football parties and played volleyball on sunday afternoons. It just got to where it was not fun anymore and I began to come out of the meth induced fog I had lived in for five years. I wanted to be "normal" again. I wanted what I had before meth became part of my life. Thank God I have it again.
Re: My best understanding of addiction
Thank you Space, I was really happy to see you back around lately and was hoping you would post that again. It is one of those pieces that the addict still suffering in meth hell, Did listen to when I read....
Re: My best understanding of addiction
Spasemonkey, I always especially enjoy reading your posts. I definately will share this at Nar-Anon...Most of us are parents of adult children who are or have been addicted to meth. You are da bomb!
Thanks for giving us "normies" as close to understanding this as one could possibly

Our daughter is in Recovery now, and she DID say that trying to get off of methadone (much like heroin) was 10 times worse than getting off of meth. She actually took the meth to get off of methadone, then the road to meth hell took place, the rest is history.
We thank God for every sober day she has now...I agree, the 12 steps, first 3 steps are crucial, even for us non addicts.

See also:

Are addicts made or born?

Understanding Meth Addiction (For the non-user)

Meth addict or drug addict? What's the difference?

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