Addiction

young-philip-seymour-hoffmanThe world lost a great actor when Philip Seymour Hoffman died this past weekend of an apparent drug overdose.  Yesterday, I posted about that and made some comments that may have come across as downplaying the other important factors that are involved in addiction.  While some people may turn to drugs, alcohol, and other things in order to find meaning and significance, addiction is not as cut and dry as that.

My grandfather was an alcoholic.  Even though I never met him, who he was had an indirectly significant impact on me.  My father became who he was because of my grandfather’s addiction and eventual eviction by my grandmother from the apartment.  It had such an impact on my father that he dedicated much of his life later to helping those who were struggling through addiction.  He pursued a doctorate in counseling to the addicted and helped to start a program for those struggling with addiction and those whom had been impacted by it.

Deep inside of me, there is an addictive personality.  My brother and I have talked about this often.  We have seen it manifest itself, not necessarily with substances or drugs, but in other ways.  Addiction can come out in relationships, in behaviors, in attitudes, and it can easily be disguised because, to be frank, there are some addictions that are more socially acceptable than others.  We might excuse one’s addiction to food or coffee because it doesn’t seem to have the same effects as substances or drugs, but they are addictions nonetheless.

As a holder of two engineering degrees, I may be considered a scientist, but I have never studied the psychology and physiology of addiction and cannot be considered an expert in this area.  What I know is what I have experienced, which is minimal in comparison to those who have studied long and hard about drugs, alcohol, and their impact on those who misuse them.

The little that I do know about the physiology of our bodies has helped me to see the importance of holistic health, although I can’t say that I have always adhered to things that are holistically healthy for me.  Drugs, alcohol, depression, and stress (to name a few things) have a way of changing our bodies, shutting down parts and overtaxing other parts.  I have seen firsthand what happens when depression goes untreated for an extensive period of time.  Stress can do similar things, causing our bodies to make changes and alterations that can have long-lasting and severe consequences.

The bottom line is that addiction is a much deeper and in-depth matter than the simple choice to use or not to use.  While I have a strong faith and belief in God, I firmly believe that simply quoting a few Bible verses won’t be adequate alone to overcome an addiction, especially when it is deep seeded.  Addictions take time to set in and so it should follow that they will take time to overcome, which is a bad choice of words considering that they are never really overcome, they are simply managed or “lived with.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman struggled with addiction for years and had been clear for more than two decades.  What was it that triggered his return to his addiction?  Like I said, my understanding is that the addiction never goes away, it may lay dormant, but it is not a furry and cuddly animal that can be toyed with or treated lightly.  This simply goes as a reminder to me that avoiding drugs is the only surefire way of avoiding the potential addiction to them.  Might be easier said than done for some, but it’s a start.  The world has lost an artist, not the first and most likely not the last, but it’s a tragedy that may have been avoided and certainly begs to be studied and understood better.

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