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On the Nature of Addiction
by Emmanuelle Galicher
Oct 16, 1999
Disease vs. Choice

it's always fine and dandy for "non-addicts" to put words in the "addicts' mouths". and i suppose that it is easier for addicts to project their incapacities at dealing with life onto addiction. the scientist and the addict can then, get together and make drug addiction an oh! so convenient "disease". a a... sorry for being rude here, but sitting from where i am sitting there is no disease here. only a terribly painful choice to make. to cope or not to cope. i remember people telling me i had a "choice" in the matter, and how easy it was at the time to blame my drug use on "the disease".

let me be a bit more specific if i may here. i have been dealing with my own heroine addiction for the past 10 years, i am now 28. i have now been habit free for the last 6 months, as well as dealing with my boyfriend who chose the methadone detox road. the methadone system could be a whole post on it's own. in short, i will say that they sure do not make it easy for people to get help. my boyfriend missed his dose for this saturday, therefore also his Sunday dose (dose wich the clinic gives out on Saturday since they are closed on Sundays). i do understand the sickness and the fear of it, and would never wish it upon anyone. as a result of this he "had" to cope for those 2 days in order to maintain. i could blame the methadone clinic for only being open at early morning hours of the day, but i am writing this to speak about the choice in addiction as opposed to the disease factor. i therefore have to say that my boyfriend did indeed choose to go out and cop.

as i am sitting here fighting the desire to join my boyfriend in the so familiar and comfortable nod-land, i also am faced with my "choice" regarding wich direction to go.... which is pushing me to type this words.

i have by now gotten to the conclusion that the addiction=disease bit is only an easy cop out for people to attach a name to something they do not understand. if it is a disease it must have a common root, right... the problem is that addiction has as many roots as there are addicts. each addict is part of the root. we all crave for different reasons.

> Dysfunction at the level of emotional processing is highly indicated, in my opinion.
> We are all of constantly being bombarded by experience via our sensory
> apparatus. When experience with emotional content is not processed well,
> stress is generated at a conscious level. Stress accumulates via a well-known
> physiological pathway, the hypothalmic/pituitary/adrenal, (HPA axis), and
> self-reinforcing feedback loops may be induced within this structure, causing
> the sufferer to enter a constantly stressed state - being "stressed out".

i can not help but to think that the stress is:....well LIFE itself. and perhaps people do react to stress in a different manner, each with different stress levels, but i also believe that it is the same stress wich forced humans to populate the skies with gods and myths, only now the amount of Shammans has gone overboard...and society has no more room or nescessity for such visions therefore made the user illegal (as well as many other economic issues, added to a few "control of the masses" factors).

> Chance encounters with heroin, or other analgesics, for those suffering
> problems with emotional processing, can quickly lead to long-term usage
> and physical dependence. For it is the effect of heroin to essentially
> disenfranchise the individual from the life process. Incoming
> experiential material is desensitized and outgoing action reduced.

could we also say that the effect of food "disenfranchise the individual from the life process"? obesity is a disease, the food becomes the drug? or?

what i am trying to say here is that i believe we all get to a point of accumulated stress, which makes us take some sort of an action against the stress. it is the nature of movement. why make the drug addict so different from the rest of the "stressed out people"? the stress makes each and every one of us take different actions the form of the action itself depends on many factors, such as our environment, social history, culture, personal believes, ect..ect...the drug addict chooses the addiction as the action, some might choose marriage, others might become workaholics, but all the actions derive from the same source which seems to be life itself, a constant search for a suited reward system as well as the search for a familiar pattern. (i will leave the philosophical implications of this statement for another place and time).

maybe when society can stop demonizing addiction can we finally study it under a new light. but first we have to accept it as part of life, only one of the many shapes it can take, in order to do something about it. as i finish this post, i feel the need to apologize for sharing this self absorbed moment. but, regardless of which "choice" i will make, i will hold the choice as a conscious one, nothing more or less. i do believe that the matter of "free will" regarding addiction is an important one in the matter, and i suppose that this post is an attempt at communicating this "moment of accumulated stress". thank you for the ibogaine list which remains a very highly educative one.