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.

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