My personal definition of addiction is the one that helps me to stay clean and sober and living in recovery.
This means that I need to be very clear in my mind about exactly what my addiction is. To me it is completely unacceptable for a person to “accidentally” relapse. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “slip,” so if you are recovering from drugs and alcohol then you need to be very clear on what constitutes a relapse.
I know there are other addictions out there as well, such as gambling, sex, food, video games, even surfing the internet, and so on. I do not deny that those can be addictive activities but mostly when I think about addiction or talk about addiction, I am referring to chemical dependency. This just comes naturally to me as I have never really had a problem with any of the “soft” addictions such as gambling or food or sex. So yes, they are still addictions, but for my personal purposes, I just need to be aware of the possible dangers with them. My real focus needs to stay on abstaining from chemicals.
Personally, in my addiction, I was obsessed with the idea of getting as messed up as possible, for as much of the time as possible. My goal was to stay intoxicated on a variety of substances. My personal goal was to always be wasted. That was truly what I aspired to be.
So anything that leads me back to that obsessive state of mind is off limits. Anything that reactivates my addiction is off limits. This boils down to a basic list of mood or mind-altering substances, such as:
4) Opiates (including prescription painkillers)
7) Any other mood or mind altering drugs
You have to be very clear on these things when you first get clean and sober so that you don’t get tripped up and start using again. Have a zero tolerance policy with yourself that you are not going to use these substances no matter what.
My definition of addiction is to put one of these substances in my body, and then start chasing that messed up state of mind, over and over and over again. It does not stop unless I find a way to stop putting the chemicals into my body. This is addiction in it’s most basic form. It is about the chasing.
When I was caught up in addiction, it was like I was constantly chasing the next high. And at the same time I was running from something that I could not put my finger on. Now that I am sober and have really thought things through it is quite easy to put my finger on what I was running from: fear. I was afraid, and I used chemicals to alleviate those fears.
What was I scared of? I was afraid of life itself. I was afraid of facing life without self medicating. I was afraid of being myself, and I was afraid of showing my emotions to anyone. I was afraid to feel my feelings. So I medicated them away. It was the only way I knew to be cool. These fears where at the heart of why I chased my addiction for so long.
We might even say that addiction is a behavior that you do over and over again to escape your fears.
So recovery becomes all about facing your fears, unfortunately. A tough path, but worth the effort. Today, I no longer have to live in fear.