Love starts off with an infatuation for a person. Developing a drug addiction is like falling in love. But anyone with an addiction has fallen in love with drugs, or alcohol, not a person. Or they’ve fallen in love with prescription pain-killers, or any other substance or activity that is the focus of their irrational desire.
Suppose we’ve become infatuated with a person – we think about them all the time and cannot get them out of our heads. We can’t help ourselves, the thoughts just appear in our heads all the time. We are obsessed. We engineer situations to increase the chance to be close to this person. We will do anything to please them.
We are no long thinking or acting rationally, and sometimes not acting in our own best interest either. But we don’t care – we are infatuated, and our rational mind is being out-driven by the strengths of our irrational desires.
Addiction is exactly the same as becoming infatuated with a person – someone we used to think of as being just a friend has become the focus of our lives. In the case of addiction, what used to be a pleasant pastime, such as drinking with friends, has become an obsession that makes everything else in our lives less important.
We have fallen in love. We have fallen in love with whatever it is we’ve become addicted to. It could be drugs, or shopping or gambling, or binge eating, or computer games. We are obsessed, and no amount of rational argument can compete with our overwhelming desires.
Infatuation Makes Everyone Act Irrationally
Suppose we fall in love with a person who is not ‘available’ or who is ‘not suitable – perhaps they are already married – or they are a person who we know is going to be ‘trouble’. We might tell ourselves a hundred times a day that we should not make arrangements to see that person, but we do it anyway. We know there are risks, but we do it anyway. We don’t care. We have lost control of our rational decision making processes.
Fortunately, if we become infatuated with an ‘unsuitable’ person, they will soon prove to us how irrational and unwise our desire for them is, by their bad behavior or difficult personality. So mostly, we come to our senses again – hopefully before any damage was done to our personal lives. Unfortunately, infatuation with an addiction is not so easily broken.
No one intends to become infatuated with their addiction, but somehow, it just happens – almost before realizing it. They discover that they’ve come to love their addiction more than anything else in the world, including their job and their family. This is not their fault. It’s like the power of love, but this is the irrational power of addiction.
How Can This Happen When
Everyone Knows That Some Activities are Risky?
Everyone allocates all sorts of activities to ‘autopilot’ – they are the things we do out of habit. For example: once we know how to drive, we don’t have to think about how to drive, we just do it. Many activities we do repeatedly become habits. Such as going to work everyday, or feeding the dog and playing with the kids every day when we get home. We don’t think about our habits, we just do them. Until there is a problem.
For some people, the regular repetition of certain activities can become a problem. For example: if our autopilot habit has been regular and repeated drinking with friends after work, or smoking, or ‘recreational’ drug use, or gambling, or excessive shopping, or playing computer games for hours on end, or watching porn, our habit could progress to become an addiction.
Everyone knows that some people can develop an addiction, but we think that it won’t happen to us. We all do that. It’s normal. It might not be sensible, but it’s normal. Everyone does it. For most people, that is not a problem. But for some people, this ‘normal’ activity turns into an infatuation that fills every waking thought, and can ruin their life and the lives of those close to them.
People with an addiction are very much like someone who has become infatuated with another person. The difference is that the object of their desire is a drug or an activity such as gambling or drinking.
In most cases, the addicted person is not able to rely on rational reasoning to ‘come to their senses’ and break free. Usually by the time an addiction has become established, it is too late for rational decision making, and more drastic action is required to break their love affair with their addiction.
Not many people need professional help to break an addiction to a person, but most people with drug or process addictions do need that extra help, plus cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), possible drug treatment and extra support to break free.
The good news is that any infatuation can be overcome. No situation is ever hopeless.