Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Addiction's True Nature

The negative impact of abuse, which originates with the addict, slowly permeates into his or her family and ultimately throughout the community. Efforts to educate our communities, regarding these consequences, are critical in initiating positive change.

The tangible losses associated with addiction are often readily apparent. Crime and the eventual losses of health, jobs, family, friends, and money are only the manifestations of a more intangible loss, which is likely the real culprit behind abuse: loss of one’s self through the insidious and consistent detachment of one’s feelings through addiction.

Feelings serve the useful purpose of guiding one in better understanding oneself. The avoidance of feelings (particularly through addiction) robs oneself of the valuable, directional information which feelings can afford. A “gut instinct”, for example, can be viewed as a crystallization of all of one’s life experiences into a single guiding feeling. Nobody can be consciously aware of every life experience, as it may relate to a presenting concern. One can, however, benefit from one’s guiding feeling.

Addiction has the real potential to dull this and other types of valuable feelings, which can ultimately, further alienate the addict from him or herself and others, leading to confusion, poor direction, and despair. This cycle can continue to create a pattern which can lead to the more tangible aforementioned losses. Education (whether through the media, therapy, or the like) is key to breaking this pattern and changing ultimate despair into real hope for the future.

The Jellinek Curve offers a graphical representation of the insidious path of addiction and recovery:

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