Saturday, December 03, 2005

You can't understand addiction unless you've experienced it. But I can tell you this much: The aphorism about acknowledging the problem being a first step...? It's true, but it's not nearly as poignant as people insist. In reality, that acknowledgment doesn't usually come as an earth-shattering revelation, for two reasons: Most addictions are corrosive, but few are actually destructive; and most addicts aren't blind.

The truth is, most addicts know damn well what they're doing. Sure, they flash through various stages of apathy and guilt, and depending on the moment they may grin or want to quit. But on the whole, most addicts aren't stupid. They realize their lives would be more productive if they quit their vice. They don't persist because they're ignorant, or even because they're self-destructive; they persist because there's a payoff. They don't want to quit.

It's ironic. There are a dozen so-called diseases that are excessively diagnosed and medicated in our society. Every fifth kid is labeled with Asperger's or ADD, and every middle-aged male is being encouraged to pop blue pills by the dozen. But between the spread of casinos, the rise of the internet, and the return of widespread advertisements for hard liquor, I wonder if addiction isn't hitting record levels. And of course, all those addictions cost a lot of money. No one ever seems to get addicted to leisurely walks and origami.


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