Now I like to think about addiction in much wider terms than just alcohol and drugs, because this pandemic has arms that are much longer and more dangerous than that. An addiction is a pathological relationship with any mood-altering experience that has life-threatening consequences. So what kinds of things can be considers mood altering experiences? Alcohol, drugs (illegal and prescription), co-dependency, video games, and sex are only a few kinds of addiction. Each one gives to the addict a different emotional experience that strengthens a relationship with the addiction and weakens the relationship they have with themselves. And therein is the danger of addiction, because the addict loses themselves within their addiction which makes the addict capable of things that in a healthy state of mind they would never do.
Now you may ask why someone would seek out some experience or substance to make themselves feel better. John Bradshaw describes addiction as "an outer reach for an inner security." In other words addiction is an exterior symptom of a inward condition. So when you see the alcoholic with their vodka, or the drug addict with their lines, there is a hole in their life that they are trying to fill with the drinking or cocaine. The hole in my life is self acceptance. My mind was broken during my childhood and I struggle with being able to see myself as a good person.
I've tried to fill that hole with being uber religious. I've tried to fill that hole with numbing myself with video games. I've tried to fill that hole through being co-dependent with others. And each drug has only stripped me further of the acceptance I needed for myself. God's acceptance never penetrated my resentment. When I numbed my resentment I couldn't give of myself sincerely. And I when I returned to helping others I overextended myself and grew more resentful. Which sent me back to God asking for him to expel the anger and resentment from my heart. But none of these things helped.
Every addict deals with these same roles in a different way. Yet how many really have the education as how to deal with the addiction in such a way that they can begin to reclaim their identity? Let's count. According to the COA seventy six million Americans have been exposed to Alcoholism in their family. Almost one in five adult Americans (18%) lived with an alcoholic while growing up. And roughly one in eight American adult drinkers is an alcoholic or experiences problems due to the use of alcohol. Worst of all is the cost to society which is in excess of $166 billion per year. Shouldn't that mean the AA groups and Al-anon should be overflowing with people wanting help? Or that perhaps our government should address this addiction problem more directly? The scary part to me is that's just the alcoholics. I haven't even addressed the co-dependents like myself, the drug addicts, the sex addicts, or the myriad of different addicts out there. I would wager that every home in America has been affected by the actions of addicts in one way or another. And we called h1n1 a pandemic?
My wife is with me on my journey of healing right now. Because she has been harmed by my self harm. She has learned things that she has to unlearn to be able to be whole for herself. Addicts never harm only themselves, they always leave victims in their wake. Whether the victim is the child ignored for the addict's isolation, the spouse the addict beat to control, or the woman in the casket the addict hit when they drove drunk. And we as a society must learn enough to help addicts seek the help they need without hating them for their weakness. Because hatred will not heal our homes or the addicts either.
I am Jayrod Garrett, the First OG, and it is my sincere hope that we as a nation can start to address these real problems in our society. Addiction is only one of many. Not only a face of manipulation, but a mirror of the society that we are embracing. What other problems do you see in the mirror?