When I consider the question am I an addict? I know that I am past asking that question so instead I ask: what sort of addict am I?
My hypothesis is that everyone’s an addict, so if you ask yourself Am I an addict? and come up with the answer: “no” then it follows that you are an addict in denial.
I had alcoholism from birth and was an alcoholic in denial for 34 years from age 14 to age 48 when I joined AA. Even at that stage, whether I had a drinking problem was up for grabs for at least six months until my brain began to clear and, once I had been through alcohol withdrawal, I could see that I was in better shape without the booze. After that it was easy for me to answer the question am I an addict?
Instead of Am I An Addict – what sort of addict am I?
But I recall an earlier time when I thought I was a nicotine addict. I was in denial about any other kind of addiction, but thought I was addicted to smoking.
All the effort I put into giving up smoking proved fruitless. This is where rehab centers can prove invaluable. They have a wide overview of all sorts of addiction and methods of dealing with them. They can help one look at the subject with a wider perspective – very helpful as long as you don’t turn into a rehab addict. The leader of the course I did as a rehab outpatient told me to stick to the treatment of my major addiction – alcohol – and that I would easily give up smoking at a later date. This proved true. Her guidance also helped me to spot that I had a secondary eating addiction to sugar. But this was mainly only harmful to me. The harm to others was minimal compared to my alcoholism.
If I had given more thought to what sort of addict I was at that stage I might have been able to deal with all of my addictions earlier. But I didn’t even jump the first hurdle, Am I an addict? I skirted all useful consideration of these questions and went straight to an assumption about smoking. I think this was because of a selfish fear for my own health. One’s deliberations could often be widened to encompass the whole picture.
Smoking used to be an addiction that was quite harmful to others because of secondary inhalation of smoke and the way the happy, sociable smoking crowd encouraged new young smokers to join in. Nowadays in the western world its dangers have been spelled out and addressed. But it can still be a major addiction for some people who might have assumed when they started that they would be able to give it up easily at a later stage. Then, in the end, it kills them or at least contributes to an early death – even if they had given up, but too late.
I have recently been dealing with a very mild addiction to Sudoku. Its importance almost fails to register and abstaining from it has not been difficult. Yet it was a thief of time I could have spent on more useful or enjoyable activity.
Discovering your addiction
Mapping out one’s addictions is not always easy. In hindsight we can realize that we were blind to them. But there is no need to die wondering. Anyone wishing to discover whether they are a particular sort of addict, or not, will be welcome at a relevant meeting.
Actually, it doesn’t matter if they are still asking the first question, am I an addict? For example, the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. (Tradition three.) So it is only reasonable to welcome individuals who simply want to discover whether they wish to stop drinking, or not. The first thing that will be explained to them is that the AA program is for people who want to stop. It is surprising how many people still turn up at meetings thinking they can be taught how to reduce their drinking to a moderate level. Well, it is about reducing one’s alcohol consumption – to zero.
Am I an addict? – yes – everyone’s an addict. You just have to figure out what sort of addict you are.