Addiction is a Choice – Or Maybe Not?

Addiction is a Choice – Or Maybe Not?


A lot of people out there believe that addiction is a choice.  I understand this perspective perfectly, because I used to believe the same thing.  This was when I was a bit younger and had not yet experimented with drugs or alcohol.  In fact, I had never taken a mood altering drug in my entire life, nor had I ever taken a drink.  And at the time, I can remember seeing drunks in the movies or on television, and thinking to myself: “These people are either really weak, or they are just pure hedonists who cannot get enough pleasure in their life.”  That was my exact attitude toward the phenomenon of the addict or alcoholic.  I thought that surely, if these people wanted to, they could control or limit their intake.

Of course the joke was on me, because….as smart as I was (or thought I was), I turned out to be one of these so called addicts. I tried a drug (marijuana) and I liked it so much that I vowed that I would never stop.  And I made it a point to try and experiment with other drugs too, including alcohol, because I loved the way they made me feel.  I loved the effect that the drugs produced on me.  I loved the way that the drugs loosened me up and gave me confidence.  They seemed to “fix” my personality.

IEEE Dancefloor @ Vertigo
Creative Commons License photo credit: Golddragon24

As such, drugs were like the perfect fit for my personality.  They corrected my problems so easily, so quickly, that I could not turn them down. What I was not choosing here was the profound effect that the drugs had on me.  I would have–if I had the choice–chosen a much more subtle effect.  I would have chosen to enjoy the drugs and the alcohol, but not to get carried away with them.  I would have chosen recreation instead of dependence.  I would have chosen moderation over excess.  How do I know this?  Because I had made similar choices before in my life.  I had always chosen things in a sensible manner.  I was not one to go all out, or get wild and crazy, or try to upset the apple cart with my choices.  I was not one to be reckless or to try and overdo everything or take things to the extreme.  In many ways I was fairly reserved.  So how could it be that I would choose to go overboard with addiction, when in so many other areas, I had chosen more sensibly?

In my experience, addiction chose me.  I did not choose to become an addict.  It just happened.

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