Concluding Remarks of Chapter One

What we have really been discussing in this first chapter is the mechanisms behind our powerlessness to our addictive substances and behaviors. Having read this, it is my hope that the reader can begin to understand that, if they possess an emotional dependency, a mental obsession, and a phenomena of craving, then they truly are powerless over this substance/behavior. They just can’t help it. And if we are powerless, then our lives are, subsequently, out of control and unmanageable. This is the first step of the twelve step program. “We admitted we were powerless over addictions, and our lives had become unmanageable.” This is the premise behind the step. That our entire being, soul-mental, body-physical, and spirit-emotional, is completely powerless to this substance. It has complete control of our lives and is the very thing that is the most destructive force present in our lives. Only, we see it as the ultimate source of fulfillment. Because of this powerlessness, we are living a lie. The lie, that using is fulfilling our lives, and to not use would not be “living.” In fact, it is the opposite that is the truth. This dissection of powerlessness should bring one to the realization of the control that substances/behaviors have over their lives. This is the point of the first chapter. To begin to open our minds to the lie that we have bought into and to free us from the evil power that promises life but can only deliver death.

One might argue regarding powerlessness saying, “Well they just have to choose not to do it, it is a matter of will power.” This is simply not the case for addicts. With this statement, neuroscience agrees. “The effects of drugs on projections to the frontal lobes are what eventually lead to the impaired control over drug use, through a reduction of cortical decision making functions. Thus, such characteristics as ‘lack of will-power’ and ‘personal weakness’ do not play a significant role in the development of drug dependence.” (1) The brain of an addict is hardwired to eliminate the free-will. Only the absence of the substance returns the power of choice. However, many believe to not use is to live a life that is unfulfilled and boring. Addicts will not accept this proposition. Indeed, many of us who struggle with addiction have used the same “choice” argument saying, “I can quit whenever I want to but I just have chosen not to quit.” Generally this statement is made when the user is in some kind of trouble for their use and they are trying to get the attention of their use of substances. This statement is also usually followed by a “until now” proclamation by the addict. Not so, the fact that we have to defend our use declares us guilty before the world. People who don’t suffer from addiction don’t have to explain their use to the rest of the world. Only us delusional thinkers have to do this. In fact, this will be the subject of our next section, the delusionality of our own thinking.


1. Erickson, Carlton, “The Science of Addiction”, W.W. Norton and Company, New York and London, 2007, page 53

The Physical Dependence Chapter One continued

This is the section that will need some updating.  Much more research is available now, particularly with the mesolimbic dopamine system.  At some point, I will try to write an update for those who are interested.  This MDS will clarify why one can be addicted to anything.

In the section entitled, “The Doctors Opinion” of the Alcoholics Anonymous book, it reads, “that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. It did not satisfy us to be told that we could not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were outright mental defectives. These things were true to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some of us. But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.” (1) From the beginning, we seem to know that there was more to our powerlessness over our substances than just what we have discussed in the previous chapter. The older AA guys described this “something physical” as an allergy. They believed that alcoholics had some type of allergy that caused them to continue drinking despite all that was falling apart around them. I used to tell people that I was allergic to drugs and alcohol. When I drink it, I break out in felonies! Setting the humor of that remark aside, those of us who have struggled with moderate use have come to the conclusion that moderation is not in our make-up. When we use, we use to “get the job done.” To use to a point of extreme intoxication. The very idea of moderate use makes no sense to us. What is the point? If we are going to use, then let’s do it! If not, then we are just wasting good substances. Not only do we live by this motto, but it becomes the pattern of our use. Namely, that when I start, I can’t stop. In fact, the very idea of stopping is absolute lunacy to me. Once I take that first drink, I will continue to use until I’m completely wasted. What we are trying to say, in this section, is that this mindset with its subsequent action, has a physical, if not genetic root. That’s right, it has to do with the way that our bodies process drugs as opposed to the way that non-addicts process those same substances. It came as a welcome relief to me to find out this had to do with my genetic makeup and not my own lack of will power or weakness. It was physiological. Again, the Doctors Opinion, “We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human, their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve.” (2) It would be a mistake to only limit the discussion to alcohol, all of the intoxicating substances seem to have a very similar biochemical response in the bodies of those prone to these issues. Let’s review some of the science on the matter.

From his book, “The Science of Addiction”, Carlton Erickson writes, “New research has found that genes for two neurotransmitter receptors are probably involved in the causes of alcohols dependence. These two receptors, GABA-A, and a form of the gene that codes for the serotonin transporter (SERT, also known as 5-HTT), may produce abnormalities in the mesolimbic dopamine system that cause people to be unable to stop drinking. Other neurotransmitter receptors have also been implicated.” (3) Everybody got that! Clear as mud! I‘ll offer a humble explanation. What this means is that alcohol, and probably other substances as well, trigger two brain receptors to release GABA-A and SERT 5. These are little do-dads (parts of cells called receptors) in the brain that trigger the brain to release more of the “I feel like the greatest person alive” chemical called Dopamine. Dopamine is what triggers that wonderful and great feeling, we like to call “a buzz.” It is what I was experiencing with “Cool Don” at the arcade. This release of Dopamine is so wonderful that we begin to crave more of it. Well, how did we get this release of dopamine in the first place? By using! Hence, in order to get more of the feeling, we continue to use and the idea of stopping, is goofy to say the least. This is what we call the phenomena of craving. It never happens when drugs are outside of your body. It happens as soon as we put that substance into our bodies. That is when the craving begins and drinking/using in moderation is not within our scope of practice. This is a biochemical response triggered by our genetic make-up. In other words, you can’t help it, you are powerless to the way your body process substances.

Here is a little more on Dopamine, “We believe that some people who are born with lower D2 (dopamine receptor) levels are more vulnerable to alcohol or drug abuse,” A team led by Dr. Panayotis K. Thanos of Brookhaven National Laboratory (news – web sites) in Upton, New York, reports the findings in the current issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry. Dopamine is part of the brain’s “reward system,” playing what is thought to be a key role in mood and motivation. Previous research has suggested that people who are vulnerable to addiction may have fewer-than-normal brain receptors for dopamine. The theory is that this pushes them to make up the difference by using substances–including alcohol and other drugs–that elevate dopamine levels in the body. In the new study, researchers used gene therapy in rats to show that the level of dopamine receptors in the brain determined the animals’ motivation for getting alcohol. The rats drank far less alcohol after scientists increased their dopamine receptor levels by injecting the gene for the dopamine D2 receptor into the animals’ brains. This gene delivery allowed the rats’ brain cells to churn out more D2 receptors in the nucleus acumens, a brain structure known to be involved in feelings of pleasure.” (4) The supposition put forth here is that addicts are born with “less than normal” amounts of the “thing” that releases Dopamine in our brains. Because our levels of Dopamine are too low, when we use substances, the level of Dopamine increases which makes us “feel better.” Even good old weed, which is only an herb and doesn’t hurt you. Yeah right! (see chapter six for details) has a similar response.

Again, Dr. Erickson, “These people (referring to folks who chronically stay in trouble regarding the amount of weed they smoke) have a dysregualtion of endocannabinoids or cannabis receptors in their mesolimbic 1 A system (Maldonado, Valverde and Berrenderro, 2006) (5, parenthetical note mine for clarification) Everybody got that! Of course, your average everyday pothead would understand this with absolute clarity and certainty. Just Joking. What is being said is that even weed triggers a very similar response, it makes those who smoke it crave more of it after they have experienced the effects on their brains.

We could go on and on quoting scientific journals, studies, and articles which reiterate the same thing. First, that this is a genetic response. It can’t be helped. It is the bodies biochemical, neurological, neurophysiologic reaction to the ingestion of substances upon the genes that we have inherited. Every time the substance is placed in the body, the body will respond the same way. The person with this genetic make-up will have this response and automatically be incapable of moderate use. They will use like it is their jobs, on a professional level. The individual with this genetic makes has an extremely low probability of being able to use drugs successfully. They simply can’t use in moderation. Hence, the idea of successful use must be smashed and the idea of moderation be equally destroyed. These ideas don’t match our genetic make-up.

Mainly, these genes are passed down from the father’s side of the family. I can’t quote a particular study to validate it, but it seems to be my experience, both personal and professional. One of the reasons that we have bad relationships with our fathers is because of their addictive lifestyles. Hence, the genes that drove them are the same genes that drive us. This is powerless. It is in your genes. My mother’s side of the family is pretty normal. My father’s side of the family is replete with alcoholism. I get it from that side of my family. My allergy to the substances comes through that paternal genetic link.

The old Chinese saying goes, “First a man takes a drink, then the drink takes the man.” In essence, this is what we are saying in this section. We are validating our powerlessness from a physical standpoint because we can’t change our genes. We will always consume to the point of acute intoxication every time we use because our bodies drive us to do so. This is the allergy and this is the phenomena of craving. If you have it, your ability to use successfully is virtually non-existent.

We are not fools. We are acutely aware that many who are reading this will, in fact, use drugs again. This is not a requirement but a reality. So, here is our advice to those who are going to take the plunge again and try to use successfully. The next time you use, try to use in a controlled manner. Try to take two pills and quit. Try to stop abruptly and not touch it again. Try to just take two hits, two lines, two of whatever your substance of choice is, and see if you have this capability. Try it more than once and try it when you don’t expect to do it. This will test if you have this phenomenon. Again, we never encourage relapse. We acknowledge it as a sad fact with addicts. Hence, we try to make the most out of this situation. With this advice, the AA big book agrees. It states, “We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.” (6)

1. Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous World services, Inc. New York, New York, third edition, page xxiv.

2. Ibid, page xxvi

3. Erickson, Carlton, “The Science of Addiction”, W.W. Norton and Company, New York and London, 2007, page 221.

4. As quoted from: author unknown;

5. Ibid, Erickson, page 140.

6. Ibid, AA, page 31-32.

Chapter One continuted Mental Obsession/Powerlessness

The mind of addicts never strays very far from one of three places. First, we are either using. People with addictions are engaged in their addictive behaviors. Hence, we are using our substances of choice. Our minds are under the influence of the substance we are using. Secondly, the mind of the addicts is planning to use. This generally occurs with the addict is unable to engage in the use of the substance. Thus, we plan to use again. This is such a wonderful point to bring up to folks in treatment centers. Particularly if the individual doesn’t think they have an addictive problem. If we can get the person to be honest, they will often admit that they have planned their next use. If so, they are thinking exactly like an addict.
The very substance that has caused us to be locked up is the very substance that we are planning to use again. Planning to use is a strong indicator of the hold that a substance or an activity has on individual’s life. Particularly if one is planning to use from inside a rehab center or outpatient program. Even if not in treatment, these plans can be in effect anytime the user is not able to use the substance at any particular time. If one finds their mind drifting to when “can I use the substance again” they are thinking exactly as addicts. These plans can range from very simple plans such as, “Can’t wait to get of work to go drink at happy hour” to very complex schemes such as, “ I will steal my mother’s computer, pawn it, go to the dope mans house, get some oxcies, then tell mom a lie about my whereabouts and stay up all night partying.” Humans tend to dwell, in their thought-life, about the things that they love. Planning to use is an indication of the “love affair” that addicts have with their substance of choice.

Planning to use can also include plans to not get caught. This is a good place to reiterate a previously listed concept, that being, the goal of all addicts is to use drugs/substances successfully. Hence, plans to use generally include plans to not get caught. Generally, we know one thing about everyone who ends up in some kind of treatment program. Namely, they can’t use successfully or they wouldn’t be in the treat program. We will develop this theme more fully in a later section, but suffice it to say, that no one plans to get caught. But, some of us do, in fact, most of us do. This proves that the very best plans, strategies, wiles, and efforts on our part to not get caught using drugs have failed us. We have proven our own inability to fully develop a long term plan for successful use of the substances. Again, this should tell us something about our ability to use substances.

Thirdly, my personal favorite place the mind of an addict wanders, Planning to use while using! Generally, this takes place when the individual has some of the substance on hand, but not really enough for tomorrow, so “let’s smoke this on the way to the dealers house.” I live in Kentucky, and it is illegal to sell alcohol on Sunday, but, in Tennessee, it is legal to sell on Sundays. Hence, every Sunday afternoon, folks take their last six pack and take a “road trip” down to Portland, TN, in order to buy some more goods. If you find yourself laughing and identifying with these statements, your thinking just like someone who has an addiction. Planning to use while using, doesn’t get much clearer than that! At a minimum it makes a statement for the love we have for the substance, at a maximum, it relates us to the mind of thousands of addicts before us.

Theses thought patterns develop almost as the natural response to the encounter of something spectacular in one’s life. As previously stated, most of us never knew how bad we felt until we knew that we could feel so good. After this encounter, it seems to develop, on subconscious level. It is rooted in a tremendous love for the thing that has brought us to a state for fulfillment.

“Some people have even related chemical dependence to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)…Obsession means ‘thinking about it all the time’ and compulsion is ‘doing it all the time.‘”(1) Noah Webster defines obsession as, “the act of besieging.” (2) To besiege something is to block out all other forces that might assist the enemy until they are in such a weakened state that conquering them is relatively simple. This is exactly what happens in the mind of the addict once that fulfillment from the substance is experienced. The three patterns of using, planning to use, and planning to use while using, seal of our mind from any other power that is apposed to them until conquering the individual is easy. Once one realizes that they are engaged in these three patterns of thinking, it is to late. The siege is on, and they are generally already conquered but don’t yet realize it. Once the thought patterns are established, its got you. The only thing that can bring relief against the besieging force is another power that is greater than it and greater than you. The greater force drives off the besieging force which brings relief. If the invasion of the greater force is coupled with an experience that is similar to that of the substance; then, thought patterns about the new power will automatically begin to develop. The same mental mechanism that established the besieging force can now, establish the greater force to remain in our lives and in our thought process. This will ultimately bring about a lifestyle change.

The establishment of these thought patterns render the thinker powerless over the addiction. Simply because, it is all they are going to think about. Just as Willie Nelson sang, “You were always on my mind.”

1. . Erickson, Carlton, “The Science of Addiction”, W.W. Norton and Company, New York and London, 2007, page 56.

2. Webster, Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language 1828 version, Foundation for American Christian Education, Chesapeake, VA, 1995.

Chapter One: The Mechanisms of Powerlessness

For addicts, drugs work. They work really well and really fast. They provide an immediate change in the soul. A change that is so awesome that it supersedes any previous experience. The only problem with this wonderful treatment, is that it wears off. If we, as addicts, could take that one Monster Lortab, smoke the Perpetual Bob Marley Blunt, or ingest some other type of super substance and achieve the eternal buzz, we would all be healed. The only problem is that no such beast exist. Substances wear off and demand repetition. Thus, a drug cycle develops. One must take the substance, receive the desired effects, then repeat the process after the effects of the drugs are gone. Drug cycles have been around for thousands of years. Even scripture mentions them, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine…At last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things. And your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies at the top of a mast. They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” (Proverbs 23:29-35) The cycle of use is well documented in this proverb which was written almost 3000 years ago. This tells us that the addictive effects of substances have existed since antiquity.

Additionally, when the effects of the substance wears off, it can generate feelings of guilt, shame, and depression. Oftentimes, we feel guilt over the amount or the way that we used the substance, and shame because of what we did while under the influence of them. When the effects wear off, the old feelings and emotions, which many of us were trying to medicate, have suddenly re-appeared, only now, they are coupled with guilt and shame. Or, we just feel sad because the party is over. As Craig Nakken writes, “This type of high attaches the unknowing addict to the grief process. The trance always fades away and sensations always disappear, leaving the addict with the original pain plus the loss of the pleasurable sensations. Over time, satiation addicts are forced to act out more often (if they’re behavioral addicts) or increase their dosages (if they’re substance abusers). The satiation high gains control over the person, always promising relief from pain. Ultimately, however, the pain returns, deeper and more persistent, until it turns into grief and despair.” (1) The very fact that we get “high” connects us to a cycle for the simple reason that it goes away. When it leaves us, we may experience some loneliness without it. But, we know how to fix that, simple, repeat the previous steps and attempt to re-capture the ever allusive “perfect high”. (see appendix A)

Addicts become powerless over this cycle. This means that they don’t have the ability to break the cycle. Addiction is all consuming. It takes control over the entire human being: soul, body, and spirit. In this section we will explore all the details of this powerlessness. The first step of the twelve step program states, “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives had become unmanageable.” Anyone who has been around people who have this disease has seen the unmanageable piece of this step. It is easy to see how our loved one is out of control with their lifestyle. It is apparent to us. However, to the addict, it is not apparent at all because they are powerless. Let’s begin to examine the powerlessness of addiction three angles: emotional, physical, and mental.
Emotional Powerlessness

What is it that takes place when people get involved in addictions? If we examine the desired effects of the substances, it will give us some insight into the root of the problem. To begin with, we must start with what Robert Schewebel, in his seven challenges program calls, “Challenge 2: We looked at what we liked about drugs.” (2) Over the years of working with both adolescent and adult addicts, the following is a common list of what we liked about drugs.
1. High
2. Escape reality/problems
3. Calming effects
4. Entertainment
5. Increase self-esteem

In no way should this list be considered exhaustive. The reader, who may be struggling with substance issues, is encouraged to complete their own list. Taking these one at a time, let’s discuss this list.

What is the number one reason why people use drugs? “Survey says: The High.” This magnificent feeling is one of the most pleasurable euphoric experiences that exist in the natural world. It is the primary reason why people chase the dragon into jails, institutions, and death. Next, drugs also afford us an opportunity to escape reality. When the pressures of life become to great, a little mental vacation may be in order. This is a very popular notion in many songs about drinking and drugging. Additionally, substances have a calming effect which is affectionately known as “chilling out.” This relaxing time is very therapeutic for many. Furthermore, substances can take a normally boring situation and make it very entertaining. The second largest “trigger” for adolescent users, at least that I’ve encountered, is boredom. Thus, drugs take a normally mundane situation and make it extremely entertaining. Lastly, drugs make us feel more comfortable inside of our own skins. Most of us like the person we are when we are high better than the person we are when we are sober. Because when we are high, we feel funnier, more talkative, emboldened, and more social. We get better looking and so does everybody else. (Again, this is an idea that is popularized in many popular songs including, “Ten feet tall and bullet proof“) Substances completely eliminate any fear within us. The fear of rejection, begin unwanted, and being unlovable, vanish while we are under the intoxicating effects of the substance. This makes us like the person we are when we are high better than the person we are when we are not. Substances eliminate the fear that is inside of us and place us in an alternative reality where we reign as kings and queens. Additionally, the high insulates us and provides us a “safe place” against such attacks on the fears that lurk inside of us. Thus, we are more comfortable with “us” when we are high which increases our self-esteem. If we ended the discussion of drugs here, this would help us very little. It would only solidify the desired effects in our thinking and trigger possible drug cravings. No, we must dig deeper . We must find the root of the issue. The desired effects, what we like about drugs, will give us some clues as to where the root lies.

It has been said that, “drugs are only a symptom of the problem.” It’s true. Drugs are only the manifestation of the real issues. So, what is the problem? Looking at the previous list of desired effects will give us some insight into the problem. We have already agreed that our list is what we want drugs to give us. Well, if we need the drug to give us these effects, it is a foregone conclusion, that without the substance we don’t have these effects. Logic suggests that if we don’t have these desired effects without the substance, then we must have the substance in order to get them. It must be true that something exists inside of us before we take the substance. Logic also suggest that if we don’t have these effect, what we do have is equal and opposite to the desired effects. So, rather than being High, we may feel depressed. Rather than escaping our problems, we feel trapped in our reality. Instead of being calm, we struggle with anxiety, stress, and fear. We feel bored and desire to be entertained. Lastly, we like the person we are when we are high better than the person we are when we are not. Hence, we struggle with self-esteem issues. Let’s diagram this out.

Column A Column B
1. High ——————— Depression
2. Escape reality———– Trapped in reality and problems
3. Calming Effects———Stress, anxiety, and fear
4. Entertainment————Boredom
5. Increase Self-esteem—–Low self-esteem

Using this analysis, we can plainly see that drugs are not the problem. For addicts, they are the answer. Hence, simple removal of the substance does not fix the problem, it only intensifies the desire for the answer. The problem is what is inside of us which is listed above in Column B.

Most of us never knew that we felt this bad (see column B) until we knew that we could feel this good (see column A). Consequently, once you know that you can feel that good (column A), you never want to go back to ever feeling that bad (Column B). When someone suggests to us that the substances are harming us or our families, we become defensive. To give up the substance means, in our limited understanding, that we must exist perpetually in the state of “Column B.” This is simply not acceptable, and so we develop defense mechanisms to protect our answer. (this will be the subject of a later chapter)

This relationship gives our substance of choice significant power over us. In a sense, it becomes our god or our “higher power.” We become dependent upon drugs/alcohol/food/sex for our change from column B to column A. The reliance upon a substance to effectively induce a “mood change” moves us from one spiritual plane into another. Scripture describes this relationship.

In the book of Revelation, God is pouring out a series of plagues to drive people to repentance. God is doing this in order to prevent people from continuing in lifestyle patterns that are self destructive. Also, these lifestyle patterns, by their very nature, distance an individual from God. Hence, a jealous God is provoked to wrath. The wrath of God is not given because God is angry and vengeful and wishes to mete out punishment upon the defiant mortal. The wrath of God is the other extreme of His Great Love. When the people He loves so dearly are engaged in destructive lifestyles, He will send disaster in their direction to drive them to repentance. We read an amazing story in the ninth chapter of Revelation. It states, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by the plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshipping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:20-21 ESV) The word that the English Standard Version translates as “sorceries”, is the Greek word “Pharmakeown”. The essence of the word is “the use of or the administering of drugs.” (3) It is the word from which we get the English word “pharmacy.” What is means, in its present context, is the use of an illicit substance to move from one spiritual plain to another. This is exactly the process that we are describing. When we feel like Column B and we take a substance to feel like Column A, we have effectively engaged in what the bible identifies as sorcery.

We have previously said that addicts only go to one of three places. Jails/Institutions, death, or clean are the only three options for those truly trapped in addiction. What this biblical reference tells us is that when things on planet earth are the worst they have ever been, there will be people who will continue to look to drugs as their higher power, in essence, their god. Despite the obvious negative effects, people will continue to persist in “pharmakeown” as a lifestyle. This is not just some over spiritualized assessment. The fact that addicts only go to one of these three places has been observed by two Harvard sociologist.

As the story goes, a sociologist did some studies in juvenile criminology on a group of 17 year old young men. When he finished the study, he put the results in a box in the basement and moved on. Some fifty years later, two younger and completely different sociologists found his work and decided to track down the then seventeen year olds who were now in their seventies. Now, these sociologists are not addiction people but they did put a section in their book on arrest involving substances. Their results were truly amazing. What they found was that substance use peaked usually around age 19. It remained somewhat constant throughout the lifespan with slight decreases in the late twenties, but nowhere near abstinence. Then, at age 46, there was a tremendous decrease in the number of subjects who continued to use drugs. What happened? These subjects were either in prison, dead, or they were no longer using substances. (4) Amazing! Here is an objective and measurable study, that wasn’t even looking at addiction and it found the truth that AA/NA has been saying for years. Addicts only end in one of three places. Our biblical reference juxtaposed with this study in criminology illustrate that addiction will continue to exist even in the harshest of circumstances, and continues till we are locked up, covered up, or sobered up.

As previously mentioned, emotional dependence is just one of the factors that make us powerless over drugs. In the next two sections, we will look at two additional factors: the mental and the physical.

1. Nakken, Craig, The Addictive Personality, Understand the addictive process and compulsive behavior, Center City, MN, Hazelden, 1996, page 4.

2. Schwebel, Robert, The Seven Challenges, Viva Press, Tucson, AZ, 2004.

3. Thayer, Joseph, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 2005, page 649.

4. Sampson, Robert, Lamb, John, Life Course Desisters? Trajectories of Crime Among Delinquent Boys Followed to Age 70, available on-line @


It’s not my job to convince you that you’re an addict or an alcoholic. I’m not trying to get anyone to stop using drugs or alcohol. If you are reading this book, you are capable of making your own decisions and I will not attempt to manipulate your free will. My purpose is to explain what addicts and alcoholics are like. How we think, act, and live. It’s a humble attempt to explain the insanity of continuing in a self destructive lifestyle. This book is written for two target audiences. First, those who have been told that they need some “help with drugs.” Secondly, those who know or love someone who is an “addict” and they can’t understand why addicts do what we do. As we go along, many will be able to identify with lots of what I’m saying. You may have already identified some after reading, “My Story.” If so, great! Your identifying with someone who had a serious alcohol and drug problem for about 15 years. If you can relate to me, it might tell you how successful you may be if you continue to use alcohol and drugs. Others will see and hear their loved ones in the pages of this text. Many will have experienced the things, first hand, from their loved ones that will be written here. This will tell us where your loved one might be headed and it will also give you some insight into the delusional thinking that controls their lives. My mission here is to bring some clarity to those who have never been exposed to the “ins and outs” of addiction.

It would be a great error to limit our discussion of addiction to only alcohol and drugs. Addiction is much more complex. For addicts, anything that makes us feel good, we can easily get addicted too. Anything! Food, sex, caffeine, nicotine, shopping, gambling, and relationships, just to mention a few and there are many others. For the sake of simplicity, we will use the terms drugs and alcohol to describe the substances of addiction. We will do this for two reasons. First, this is my experience and these are my substances of choice. Second, it is much simpler to discuss the addictive substance/behavior as simply alcohol or drugs. If your addiction involves something other than these, simply substitute your substance/activity of choice where drugs and alcohol are written.

The goal of every addict is to use successfully. This is the theme that we will develop fully in this work. Every addict wants to use drugs and incorporate them into their lives without any adverse effects. This is largely based from the fulfillment that is gained from them. The problem with most of us is that we have already proven that we can’t do this, but we continue to try. This is the insanity of our plight. We continue to do something that we have already proven we can’t do. Only we will not accept this position. To us, we will find a way.

They say there are only three ends to an addict. They either wind up in a jail or institution, they die from their disease, or they get sober. Addiction is a killer. It kills with strokes, car wrecks, high blood pressure, gunshot wounds, cancer, obesity, and by sexually transmitted diseases on occasion. A large percentage of federal inmates in prisons are there on drug charges. Addiction gets you locked up and humiliated. Billions of dollars are spent annually to fund rehabilitation centers to help addicts attempt to recover. Addiction puts us in the hospital and in rehab of some form or fashion. This work is a humble attempt to make the third option a possibility for the reader. The possibility that we, as addicts, can get clean. To live a life that is free from guilt, shame, condemnation, and fear. To have the opportunity to clean up the mess we have caused in our lives and the lives of those we say we love the most. To have the prospect that we, too, can have peace with God.

I am a Christian. I make no apologies for this and I refuse to down play my own spirituality. With this concept the AA Big Book agrees. It states, “We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator…We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do.” (1) However, I will say this: I am not trying to convert anyone. I’m not an evangelist. I am a nurse who, by relationship with God as I understand Him, has been able to stay clean a number of years. I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to have all the answers. Simply, I want to share my experience and lessons learned to assist those who may be struggling with some of the same issues. The biblical references in this work are placed only to demonstrate spiritual truths as the author understands them. I make no claim to absolute knowledge, only to what makes sense to me. Perhaps it will make sense to others.

Scientists and researchers don’t like the word “addiction.” It is too vague a term and science hates ambiguity because it’s not specific. I use the term in this book for two reasons. First, it is widely understood in public opinion that anyone who either continues to take a substance or perpetuates a behavior that is self-destructive as an apparent act of their will, is an addict. Secondly, it is the term that is used in recovery circles for those who are admitting their own powerlessness. “Hi, I’m Jon and I’m a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.” I realize that there are social stigmas attached to it. That’s O.K. It is an attempt in this work to help people understand that “addiction” as vague as it is, is a disease process. Even if one is not suffering from an addiction, this book will give them insight into why someone they know does the addictive stuff that they do. This is a book for those suffering from addiction and those suffering from watching addicts ruin their lives.


1. Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, New York, NY, third edition, page 68.

Understanding Addiction

I’ve written this “book” about 4 years ago and have done nothing with it.  So, I thought it a good idea to post it and make it available for those who might have a need to understand addiction.  This is written with 15 years worth of growing up around it, 15 years worth of being active in addiction myself, and I was about 11 years clean when I wrote this (currently I’m at 15 years).  In the past four years there have been newer develops that I will eventually add to this work, as it does need an update (particularly in the scientific department).  Nevertheless, here it is:


Table of Contents

My Story Page 1 (this is already on the blog under “my testimony” so I have not reposted it here.

Introduction Page 9

Chapter One: Mechanism of Powerlessness Page 12

Chapter Two: Breaking the Delusional Thinking Page 28

Chapter Three: A Decision about Decisions Page 34

Chapter Four: Abuse vs. Dependence Page 29

Appendix A: Poems: The Perfect High Page 33