What Is the Addiction Experience?
An addict can sometimes explain to others what it is like to be an addict and what the addiction experience involves. This has to do primarily with the characteristics of addiction that seem to be shared among addicts. These characteristics include how addicts behave and view the world. One main similarity among addicts is the habitual response and the gratification that their addiction gives them. Addiction provides a way to cope with uncomfortable feelings and external influences such as a demanding boss or an irritable spouse. Over time, the benefits of using or drinking outweigh the personal benefits of the addiction. A person will use a substance or drink alcohol as long as they believe it has benefit for them. The addiction has meaning for the individual addict; therefore, they will continue to use as long as there is benefit to using.
The following characteristics were found to be similar among addicts. This list is not mutually exclusive; however, provides a guide for the commonalities of addiction.
- The addiction makes the addict less aware of other people, activities that were once enjoyed, and events that the addict used to take part in.
- The addiction reinforces and exacerbates the problems the addict wanted so badly to get away from in the first place.
- The addiction may make things seem better but in the real world only makes them worse. This is the addict’s perception of what the addiction is doing to them physically and emotionally.
- The addiction affects jobs and relationships to the point that addicts lose jobs and loved ones. The addiction is more powerful than relationships that provide financial resources, acceptance, purpose, and self-esteem.
- The addicts health deteriorates to the point of getting recurring illnesses and experiences frequent health issues such as gastrointestinal distress or cardiovascular issues.
- The addiction creates loss of financial resources. The addict cannot pay bills or maintain a suitable residence. Many addicts experience foreclosures, bankruptcy, or evictions.
- The addiction does not create positive opportunities for the addict but rather limits the addict to negative experiences.
- The addiction denies the addict the business of life.
- The addiction keeps the addict increasingly out of touch with nourishing relationships and responsibilities. The addict prefers to associate with other addicts and strays away from those that can provide comfort, security, and safety.