I’ve been asked this question often and when I came across it on Quora the other day I thought it might make for an interesting post. In short being addicted is like watching the same shitty movie on repeat, day in and day out, all the while feeling as though you have no control to put something else on. It’s a slow progression into insanity. While you’re conscious it’s happening, you don’t have the capacity to make a change. And once you don’t have the ability to change, it marks (in my opinion) the fine line between chemical dependency and addiction. A good way to look at it is it’s like a pickle. Any cucumber can become a pickle, but you can’t unpickle a cucumber. Once you’re a pickle you’re stuck as a pickle, and being pickled sucks.
Part of addiction is an ironclad commitment to a broken pattern of thinking. I imagine it carries similarities to being brainwashed, with the only difference being that the invisible hand doing the manipulation pulls the strings from within rather than externally. You could make the argument that this is the root to all of man’s internal conflicts and I would agree with you. The curse of free will, the byproduct of an existential consciousness, original sin. Nonetheless addiction seems different. Whether this is learned or biological, nature or nurture, I don’t know and frankly I don’t much care anymore because it is my reality. How we got here loses importance in comparison to where we’re going.
Part of addiction is that it enslaves you. At some point the addict crosses this invisible line where they begin to live to use and use to live. It’s precisely this moment when you’re screwed, pickled, and what makes drug use such a game of Russian Roulette is you don’t know if this threshold will be crossed with your first or one hundredth use. Addiction’s like purgatory in that you don’t grow as a person when you’re caught up in active use. Seriously, this has been scientifically proven. An addict will retain the mental capacity of the age at which their use started. Drug purgatory is more than just stunted mental growth though. Your life’s put on hold and the substance use consumes you.
Part of addiction is that it takes your voice, your sense of self, you lose yourself to the disease. Generally speaking on some level we all become slaves to our habits, yet we retain autonomy over our routine. More than anything, once drug use progresses to the point of addiction there is an absolute loss of control. This can be incredibly surreal because on some level you still have rational thought. As you’re driving an hour and a half from metro Detroit to your drug hub every other day part of your brain is saying, “hold up one second, this doesn’t make one damn bit of sense,” and yet it doesn’t matter because this is the crappy movie on repeat.
Part of addiction is obsession, like I mentioned above you live to use and use to live. If you’ve ever been in a psychology class you should remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s the pyramid that outlines the pecking order of our needs as humans. At the bottom are physiological needs: basically food, water, sleep, shelter, and sex. For drug addicts imagine a new base comprised singularly of drugs. Addiction devolves a person into something incredibly primal. This is why an addict will buy drugs instead of food, live on the streets, and even subject themselves to sleep deprivation all in the name of satisfying this new perceived floor to their needs.
If you haven’t gathered this already, I believe one staple of addiction is a lack of control. This is what it’s like, conveyed to the best of my abilities, to be addicted to drugs. It’s a path I highly discourage anybody from going down. As you know I’m fascinated by perspectives. My hope is that this perspective- my perspective- might help for even one person to gain a better understanding what it’s like for someone with a drug habit, or that it persuades just one person to make the choice to not venture down the rabbit hole. Learn from my mistakes, it’s a cursed path I assure you. If you like what we’re creating please share this on social media and be sure to check us out on Soundcloud at ODMovement.