ADDICTION

DEFINITION

Addiction 1

Being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs)

An abnormally strong craving

My Voice

I can hear it, can you?

The voice in my head that says; let’s just have one, maybe two

Try as I might, fight, fight, fight

I always give in to the craving

Straight down to the pub, I feel a little strange

I feel dazed, and confused, why am I here?

I feel guilt and I feel shame

It’s not going to happen again

I’ll never touch another drop, after this shot

Last hangover was death

I felt I would die

I felt anxious, I felt crazed

I felt like running away

Why did I drink until dawn the next day?

Now I remember the day I got drunk

It felt like a calling, a job to be done

you’ll drink until you’re happy, don’t answer back

and so I obeyed, until my whole world went black

And here I am again, preparing to drink

standing in line, waiting for service

anticipation, my heart races faster

I know it’s not good, but I just can’t help it

The thought of the sweet liquid, warming my heart

the laughter I’ll share, the fun I will have

then I hear the voice, urging me on

let’s just have one drink; it’s nice to feel nice

No! I hear you this time

It’s over, my friend

I see you this time

You are me, but I am not you

I grab my coat and head for the door

I

 can only assume it’s a mistake, what do you think? Some design flaw; something nature, the universe, or evolution overlooked. How could it be possible that the human body, the most advanced system on the planet, or indeed the galaxy (perhaps), can actively want something that isn’t good for it?

    Now, I am not a scientist or psychologist, but in the face of true adversity, we know that humans will struggle to survive. Throughout history, there are stories of courage where people have survived, in what most would consider, hopeless situations. In fact, humans will do anything to survive. It is part of our built-in evolutionary program to keep the species alive – to avoid extinction at all costs.

There will always be some scientist who tells you that a glass of red wine a day is beneficial to your health, and because we love drinking, we take their advice. If they told us a glass of wine a day was bad for us, how would we feel then?

    Remember at the beginning of the twentieth century, when they told us cigarettes were good for us? “Cigarettes Help with Asthma,” said the poster. I don’t think we could find many scientists who would agree today. So, we have to take a different approach, you and I. We have to investigate why we drink, smoke, and take drugs, and why ultimately, we become addicted to them.

Governments, religious leaders, social welfare groups, and people of influence, all talk about a “war on drugs.” This all sounds very noble, but what are they declaring war on? Are they declaring “war” on the people for taking the drugs, or the drugs themselves?

    We will deal with narcotic drugs in the drugs topic, but what I want to know is, why deal with such intensity on just one section of the things that addict us.

    Believe what you will, but most people do not take “illegal” drugs, though millions and millions of people drink and smoke. The cost to our society (society meaning you, me, and everyone else who lives on this planet) of alcohol and cigarettes is immeasurable. I am not talking about money. I am talking about a society that condones and accepts alcohol and cigarettes as a fully-fledged member of the community. Let’s look into this a little more closely. If drugs like ecstasy and marijuana are illegal, why isn’t alcohol?

    I don’t know if you’ve ever seen people out on the streets late at night, coming out of the bars. There’s always people drunk, fighting, being sick, falling over, or urinating in the street. Police are inevitably called: An ambulance for the stab victim after a drunken brawl, the girl needing her stomach pumped, the lad passed out in a doorway.

    Despite what the government would have you know, most drugs do not make you act in this way. In fact, someone who had smoked a lot of marijuana would probably be unable, or unwilling to leave the chair they smoked it in, let alone start a fight on the street!

    Before I am accused of being pro-drugs and anti-government, I would add that I am merely illuminating the point I am making about the different emphasis and priorities our society places on different addictive substances.

Do the monkeys snort cocaine?

Do the birds smoke marijuana?

Do the fish drink beer?

Do the elephants inject heroin?

I hear some of you laughing at my silly example, but be serious for a moment. Do they? Well, if they don’t, and we are the most intelligent life form on the planet, why do we do it?

    Have you ever watched the birds in the trees or the animals in the forest? Have you seen the cows in the fields, the ducks in the pond, or the great beasts on the african plains? You don’t see them sitting round the watering hole smoking marijuana with a beer in hand. If you have, the photo would be worth rather a lot of money.

    So here we are in 2006, millions of people drinking too much alcohol, taking too many drugs, and smoking too many cigarettes, all of which are poisonous to our system; a living system, so finely balanced, yet still able to process the worst we can throw at it – a truly remarkable piece of machinery.

    Let’s look at our car, the family pride and joy for a moment. Would you put cigarettes and marijuana into the tank to help it run (I have excluded alcohol, as some cars can now run on types of alcohol)? Would you add cocaine to chicken to make it healthier? Would you add tobacco to your salad dressing to make it taste nicer? Would you give your newborn baby a glass of wine with their meal? Of course you wouldn’t, and neither would I. It is unimaginable to any of us.

    So why do we willingly put these toxins into our own systems? Because, somewhere along the long line of evolution we have addicted ourselves, and the body wrongly mistakes toxic chemicals for nutrients. Surely, no intelligent system would design itself with such an inherent built-in weakness – a need for something that unbalances or poisons it.

As we have already discussed, the human being is the most advanced system on the planet, the only living organism on the planet capable of conscious thought, of constructing complex ideas, of philosophising about the nature of themselves. Other animals just live in the world, eating and drinking exactly what their systems need to remain in balance, and procreating. You wouldn’t see an elephant hunting a zebra, or a lion eating tomatoes.

    Let’s us now go into this again. Why do we take drugs, smoke cigarettes, and drink alcohol, if it is not for the benefit of the system? What is the one thing that makes us take these substances, even against our better judgement? I’ll offer a word:

Pleasure

A fundamental feeling that is hard to define but that people desire to experience

Pure pleasure. If it isn’t nice, and it’s not good for us, why do we take it? If you don’t like olives, you don’t eat them, do you? Pure pleasure. The alcohol, the narcotic drug, the cigarette, they all bind to the pleasure centres of the brain. The only problem with pure pleasure is the cost associated with it. That cost is addiction.

    You see, when your brain experiences pure pleasure, it wants more of it, your body wants more of it, and it motivates you to go and get it, whether it is good for the balance of the system or not. It has tasted the chemical sensation of pleasure and it isn’t about to let it go.

    Narcotic drugs – in their present form – have only been in wide supply for the past forty years or so, and used to be prohibitively expensive for the average wage earner, so it makes sense that society is more addicted to cheaper products like alcohol and tobacco, which have been in existence for many hundreds of years and are legal. When I say legal, I mean approved by the government as acceptable for human consumption, because they know they get huge revenue from tobacco and alcohol sales. Lots of politicians also smoke and drink, and if they banned it, they would be pretty sure of not getting into power next time around! To drink alcohol and smoke is our right; it would be as undemocratic as banning shopping at the supermarkets.

When insight comes a knocking

Please read on a little with me here, even if you don’t think you may be addicted to any substance.

    It is a shocking moment indeed when you get some insight into yourself, isn’t it? The moment you realise something you are doing is not serving your best interests; something you may have ignored for many years and now you notice it! You notice the smell on your clothes, the yellow nicotine fingers, the bad breath, the smell of alcohol in the morning, the headache that’s killing you, the depressed feeling that you got drunk again, or did drugs when you had been clean for a month. You suddenly notice you crave a fix, or a cigarette. It’s a terrible feeling, and I know it well. You have been awoken to what is commonly known as addiction.

A personal story

Even when you want to stop, it is all around you, legal and illegal. Why? Because your peer group is still there; be it the smokers in the office, the seasoned drinkers in your pub, or the junkies you get your fix with. I know. I was the information technology specialist who worked for the big companies, that no one would have thought couldn’t give up cigarettes, let alone alcohol, as I never showed the slightest indication I was addicted.

    This is probably you as well. Believe it or not, most addicted people are employed and live a relatively normal life and are shielded from view by those around them (such as family or friends, who may also be addicted and who give an air of normalcy to the situation), and any time I wanted to stop smoking, colleagues would say “come on alan, we miss having you downstairs for a smoke,” and like a fool, I followed.

    My friends from the pub would phone me to ask where I was. If I said, “I’m not drinking tonight,” I’d get a reply like “What, you? Not drinking? Come on alan, see you in the pub in half an hour,” and with huge anxiety about starting drinking again, but with a sneaky bit of excitement, I prepared myself to get drunk.

    And so it went on, week after week, and year after year. I would try to avoid being invited anywhere in case I had to drink (something, which once I started, was mighty enjoyable and great fun).

    Everywhere I went, whether it be to new countries, having new experiences, or starting a new life, I found myself in a group at the bar, drinking until I was drunk (fortunately I only ever tried drugs a handful of times, due to the huge anxiety and fear I was left with the next day). I tried everything to block it out of my mind; I tried every technique available, purchased courses on the internet, bought self-help books, and I even went for therapy, where I was told that my addictions were a result of trauma in my childhood.

    Admittedly, my parents’ separation had a large effect on me, and that may have contributed to me trying to numb the pain with alcohol, but I also liked the feeling I got from it and it doesn’t explain why I couldn’t quit when I wanted to, does it? It’s all too easy to look for reasons why we started, but not look at reasons for stopping. This was one of the big problems for me. Although on the surface I wanted to stop, and I felt as if everyone was trying to get me to drink or smoke, I had no real commitment. I would have stopped if it was easy, but as I explained previously, pure pleasure has a cost, and this time the cost was that it was difficult to stop. This was a complete surprise to me, as I thought I would be able to quit any time. How wrong I was.

Addicted – true or false?

Let me ask those of you do not believe you are addicted to alcohol or cigarettes, a question. If I asked you to quit smoking right now, never go down the pub again, never have another glass of wine with your meal, or never lift your glass to celebrate another birthday, what would you say? What if I told you you could never drink or smoke again? How would you feel? Happy, relieved, calm, or maybe just a little bit nervous?

    “I could stop if I really wanted to, I just don’t want to,” you plead. “I just enjoy a pint with the lads, a cigarette after lunch, or a nice glass of wine at dinner, I don’t need it, I just want it. After all, there aren’t too many pleasures left in life.”

    And there it is; once the brain has tasted pleasure, it isn’t going to let it go without a fight, and remember that the people who don’t think they’re addicted, need it too. “I just enjoy it.” “It’s just one or two.” “It’s purely social.” “I only smoke/take drugs /drink socially.”

    So why take these substances, if it is only to be sociable? Let’s go into what this could mean, shall we? Is it the need to conform? Is it being afraid to say no, wanting to be accepted, and joining in with the group? Well, partly I would say, as I know from personal experience that when I am out with friends it is hard to say no, and still be a part of the group. This is where it gets rather difficult, as where do you separate the “me” from the “we?”

    We all want to be part of the “in” group; we want to be liked, accepted, with people laughing at our jokes; it feels nice, doesn’t it, to be wanted? Being included in the “in” group requires that you conform to the majority of the group. Now I am not saying that all groups drink, smoke, or take drugs, but that is the subject we are dealing with here.

    I would suggest that most people, when they get together, enjoy a drink or two, not to get drunk, just merely to be sociable, would you agree? Say for example, you always had a beer when I offered you one, and this week you have decided to quit drinking, so you can concentrate on getting fit. Have you noticed how awkward you begin to feel at social gatherings, hoping that no one offers you a drink/joint/cigarette “just in case” you say yes, then hating yourself in the morning for not being able to quit? “Why am I such an idiot?” you ask yourself.

    At this point, one of two interesting things begins to happen. Either you decide to keep drinking/smoking/taking drugs in order not to be excluded, in which case you will probably start to hate yourself more, or if you are serious about quitting, you start finding excuses not to go to group gatherings where alcohol/drugs/cigarettes are consumed. Soon you find that you stop phoning your friends, or they stop phoning you so much, as you no longer have the one strong bond that keeps you together, and you start to seek out new friends.

    Let me ask you another question, what is it that bonds groups together? Surely, it is a common interest, something you enjoy doing together, like sport, learning, arts appreciation, walking, or any number of other hobbies. If you are in a group where addictive substances are not the main reason to be together, then you will probably find that it is easier to stay friends with people when you quit. If you go running with people and they go for a drink afterwards, it is fairly easy just to say “no thanks,” without any further inquiry on the group’s part. It is only where the common bond is the drugs, smoking, or alcohol, that you will be rejected by, or will reject, the group when quitting.

    You see, if your group’s main activity is drinking in the pub, smoking outside at work, or taking drugs, the substance is more important than the individual, and you can easily be replaced by someone else who conforms.

    If you stop drinking, and all your friends were from the pub, what have you got in common with the group any more? You may have done things together, like sports, days out, even holidays together, and spent time in each other’s houses, but when the drinking stops, you will find you begin to have less and less in common. It’s not like the example of the runner who quits drinking; he still has a common bond with the group. You do not.

    So, do you still smoke/drink/take drugs to be “sociable?” Is it necessary? Do you need to do it? And before you all answer immediately, “Yes I do want to be sociable; I like to have a drink with my friends, it doesn’t mean I’m addicted, and I’m not going to change for anybody,” go back to the beginning of the “addicted or not?” section.

So can you now live without your substances? Have we enquired enough into this subject so we feel happy without them? Can you now live a wonderful life without them? Will you be more successful? Probably not. This is because your mind is still constructing arguments why you should still drink/smoke/take drugs.

Once the brain has tasted pleasure

It isn’t going to let it go without a fight

Many of you will now feel as though I have not dealt with the matter of addiction, that you are the normal one, and you are probably thinking that addiction means two bottles of vodka a day, drug addicts sitting in doorways, or the chain-smoking office worker who smokes sixty a day. Perhaps you are thinking of homeless people urinating down their legs whilst consuming a can of ultra strong beer, or dirty syringes in run down housing estates. Although these are stereotype addictions portrayed by the mass media, it doesn’t mean you are not addicted. Remember at the beginning of the section where we noted:

“How could it be possible that the human body, the most advanced system on the planet, or indeed the galaxy, can actively want something that isn’t good for it?”

Is this not about the brain making a terrible mistake, wrongly wanting something it believes can help it survive? I cannot believe any of you would still say, that you, the most advanced system on the planet requires or needs poisons and toxins to be healthy. This cannot be a matter of personal choice such as “If I want to, I WILL put my arm in the wood chopping machine!”

    We make personal choices every day, some of which are good for us, like changing career, changing our mortgage company, or moving to a new country. These may seem like important choices to you, but they have negligible impact on the healthy functioning of the system, whereas toxic addictive substances can have immense impact on society. If you still don’t think we are all addicted in some way, and that it isn’t vitally important we solve this for the benefit of humanity, and you wish to move to a more important topic, please finish here!

Transcending addiction

I hope all of you are still reading, because it is important for us – and for future generations to come – to understand together how we can transcend addiction. For those of you who have never tried drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, you are indeed fortunate, for you will never have to know the battles that rage inside when one tries to stop. Not always wildly desperate cravings, but more, a subtle voice, which is the addictive part of the brain, gently coaxing you, letting you know that everything will be all right if you just give in; that you need the substance, that it will help you get over the bad day, or the good day, and that it will bring happiness and joy, if you just give in.

The voice will probably sound more like, “Phew that was a tough day, I’m stressed, I fancy (innocuous short form of desire/want/crave/need) a drink/cigarette/joint/hit,” and it will be in your own voice. It’s very sneaky, this brain of ours! Always trying to get us to do things it wants. Although it doesn’t keep telling us to steal, break windows, walk in front of trains, jump off buildings, or kill people, unless it is malfunctioning in some way.

    I see addiction as a malfunction of the brain’s normal working patterns. In the same way walking in front of a train is not good for us, neither is consuming these substances, otherwise everybody would be doing it all the time (like drinking water).

    So why do we let our brain influence us in consuming these substances? One word: Pleasure. Instant pleasure. Instant relief. Escape from reality. Escape from reality through deep, deep pleasure. And in order to get this deep, deep pleasure, you don’t need to have attended university, or possess any special skills; you just need a little money, and the ability to lift a drink, inhale smoke, pick up a needle, or snort some powder.

    This is very easy pleasure to attain, and your brain knows this. This isn’t the kind of pleasure we get on completion of a marathon, a 100 kilometre cycle ride, or a 10 kilometre swim. That kind of pleasure is difficult to achieve. It requires commitment, dedication, training, and a huge amount of physical exertion, but you get deep pleasure (tired but happy), from a series of chemicals released in the brain called endorphins, the so-called “natural-high.” But you don’t need to be an extreme sportsman to get these endorphins flowing; any physical exercise outdoors will make you feel better. You may be exhausted after only a short time, but happy you did it, and after a shower, very, very relaxed.

    This isn’t the kind of pleasure most of us seek, though. We’re after a quick fix, a quick “high” (albeit an unnatural one), generated by alcohol/cigarettes/drugs, working fast on the pleasure centres of the brain, and extremely short lasting. As with anything quickly gained, there is a cost, and that cost is suffering – from the terrible cough in the morning, the nauseous feeling, the dry mouth, to feeling tense, incredible tiredness, a little more impatience, or just feeling a bit shaky. These are the signs of withdrawal.

    You don’t need to have been hooked on cigarettes, heroin, or whisky for twenty years to experience withdrawal; just one night out with friends should do it. Withdrawal, a word that no one likes to hear or experience. It is the body’s way of letting you know that the high you experienced last night came at a cost.

What? You didn’t think you were going to get away with it, did you? You ingested toxic chemicals that unnaturally affected and influenced your body and brain, which resulted in an unnatural high, and you thought you would just carry on as if nothing happened? Remember, the human body is the most advanced system on the planet, and is a finely balanced piece of precision genetic engineering.

    You know what happens when you put diesel fuel into a car that takes unleaded, don’t you? Your nice new car stops working. It is incompatible with the system. Except, the one problem with addictive substances is that over many centuries, the body has adapted itself to efficiently metabolise these toxins, resulting in only slight withdrawal symptoms. Even the withdrawal cycle from heroin (whilst pretty unpleasant) is relatively short. If we were not able to metabolise these substances, we would probably die. Is this not the main reason we carry on as we do? Let me explain.

    Because the cost of withdrawal is not that great, we have learned to adapt our habits, in so much as if we drink too much one day, or overdo it (only measured by how severe the withdrawal is), we pull back the next day, have a detox day or week, until we feel healthy enough to do it again. The most intelligent species on the planet? I don’t think so!

    We have learned to adapt our consumption of these toxins so we only suffer minor withdrawals. How do I know I have smoked/drank too much, or taken too many drugs? Well, my body will tell me the next day. So being a cunning species, we say “Next time, I will only have five pints of beer/fifteen cigarettes/one ecstasy tablet or two joints of marijuana, as I know I can handle that level of withdrawal!”

    Is this not beginning to seem a little absurd to you now? We are actively calculating how much pleasure we want to buy (consumption), and balancing it with how much we are willing to pay (withdrawal).

We eat healthy foods, balance our protein/carbohydrate intake, take vitamin supplements, drink soy milk, play sport, detox regularly, have holistic body treatments, go to spas, beautify our bodies, go to the gym, meditate, get in touch with our inner child, go to healing workshops, become “more spiritual.” Then, it’s off for a few glasses of wine.

    This is turning into a joke! Can you see it too? We never have to justify going to have a massage or going for a run, but our addicted brain still comes up with reasons to have addictive substances! I’ve just had the most wonderful macrobiotic, organic vegetarian meal, and now I’m off for a bottle of wine with my good friend to catch up on all the gossip! We want to be good (balanced), but that little part of our brain keeps up the chatter. In the following example below, drugs and cigarettes are mostly interchangeable with drink.

Excuses our brain comes up with

I just fancy one.

I’m going for a pint; I’ve had a hard day.

Let’s go out for a few drinks tonight.

I’m really angry about what happened; I need a drink.

She really annoyed me, with what she said, I’m off to the pub.

It’s alan’s birthday! We should go out for a few drinks to help him celebrate.

I’m lonely without him, I’ll just go for a few drinks and see if anyone’s out tonight.

I hate my boss. He’s so horrible to me; I’m going to have a bottle of wine when I get home.

It’s our anniversary; we should celebrate with a nice bottle of champagne.

I’ve been so stressed lately; I just need a few to relax.

I’m bored, there’s nothing to do I’m going for a drink.

This is a lovely meal; a glass of red wine would go down nicely.

If we’re going round to their house, we should take some drinks with us.

I’m really glad I passed my exams; let’s get drunk.

I’ve got a new job! Let’s celebrate!

Amazing, isn’t it? If we look closely, we can see that the alcohol/drugs/cigarettes actually exist independently of the thought or action. Isn’t a nice meal, just a nice meal? If you’re bored, find something to do. Yes, it is hard being lonely, stress is unpleasant, and it’s great you’ve got a new job, these are normal things in life, but does everything we think about or do require alcohol to be present?

    Let’s look more closely. If it really were necessary, we would be required to take it by law to operate machines at work, drive our cars, do exams, do the end of year accounts, type better, or play better sport. Of course, this would be ridiculous to suggest, and no one would agree with me. So let us say that alcohol slows us down (at the very least), where we start to lose control of certain motor functions. Our speech slurs, our balance starts to go as the drug takes over more of our brain, our perceptions alter, and our thoughts change. The stomach finds it hard to deal with and we become nauseous. We become less coherent in dealing with complex subjects; and we become almost animal like, in groups banding together, ready to challenge imagined slights or disrespect from opposing groups or individuals:

    “What are you looking at; do you want a fight about it?”

    “He was looking at my girlfriend, let’s get him.”

    No matter how many times your brain disputes all this, the only reason it is doing so is to satisfy its need for these substances. It has no concept of consequences, resulting from consumption or over consumption, and frankly doesn’t care. It doesn’t care if you lose your job because you were drunk too many times in the morning, or that you have started to steal to support a heroin habit, or that you are struggling with walking up a hill because you can’t breathe after smoking so much. Even the bad times are secretly hidden, and all you remember are the good times.

    This part of the brain that is addicted has no concept of reality, although the mistaken requests it makes are real enough, as anyone who feels desperate for a cigarette well knows. Whether you believe you are addicted or not, the fact remains that whilst you keep smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs, your brain – and therefore you – remains addicted and you are under its control.

    Stopping anything is a stressful time, as the brain doesn’t like change that may involve it not getting what it wants; and now I’m talking about chocolate, coffee, cheese, or chicken – I’m talking about anything you really, really love. It’s funny that we use the word “love” in this way, something that is normally reserved for people we deeply care about; the brain has manipulated our language, and used it to its own addictive advantage!

“I’d love a cigarette! Mmm, I’d love a cigarette right now”

And that’s it! The body motivates itself and the brain directs you to the nearest pack of cigarettes or cigarette shop. Quick! Go now. When you get it, you say “aaaah, that feels better!” Who do you think really feels better, you, or the addiction in the brain?

    Of course, it’s not the super intelligent you. It’s not you, the most sophisticated system on the planet, eating soy beans and organic rice after your yoga class, who needs a cigarette, is it? Even though you told me earlier how you just wanted one, that’s all, how you deserve one because you’re stressed. Surely not?

    If you can’t get any cigarettes because it’s too late or the shop is closed, how do you feel? A lot more stressed than you did at work? I bet! You see, the stress at work was normal. Pressure to finish work before a deadline is stressful, but this, this is different. This is you, stressed because you can’t get a highly poisonous substance to breathe into your lungs (the things that allow you to exist on this planet, by the way).

Let’s take a moment to contemplate this before we take

action…

This is the moment; not a choice, but a window in time, where you are fully aware of yourself. Here and now, make a positive personal commitment to yourself, not to anyone else, to do what is best for your system. If you think of it as giving up something, you will always feel as though you are missing out (even if it is on toxic substances).

    You are making this personal commitment – as I have done – to yourself, to acknowledge that you are the most advanced, intelligent being on the planet. You have greater abilities than any other living organism. You are able to make complex decisions on the future of the human race, you have the power to destroy as well as create. You are making this personal commitment, not the piece of faulty machinery that is the addicted brain.

“I acknowledge that I am the most intelligent being on the planet

I will do what is best for my system

If I do not do what is best for my system

I acknowledge that I am not the most intelligent being on the planet”

And that is all it takes to free yourself! Total freedom from addiction! Right Now!

    I can hear you saying you don’t feel any different, and it can’t be as easy as all that, because you have tried a hundred methods to give up smoking and nothing’s worked, and this is useless, and you knew it would be a waste of time, and you don’t want to give up drinking anyway and “Well, I can’t be bothered with this, it’s too difficult.”

    That’s because you are still you. Nothing magical happened. You made an important acknowledgement to yourself which does not bind you to not smoking, drinking or taking drugs, it just places you in the centre of an important stage, yours.

    You see, your stage is the one you play from; the one where it’s only you acting; there is no supporting cast, no crew, no stand-ins, just you; and how you act is for you, and only you to decide. The script has not been written for you. No one is waiting to prompt you; no one cares if you mess up your lines. In the end, it is only you. This stage is your life and everybody has his or her own stage too. I have mine, the people in the pub have theirs, the people outside the office smoking have theirs, the people injecting heroin have theirs. They have to decide how to act on their stage, and how to act when around other actors’ stages. If we pay too much attention to the other actors; if we worry what they think of us, or that they will not like our performances, we get trapped into only pleasing them, instead of writing our own script.

Imagine now that you are walking around on your stage, and quietly listen to the script you are reading from. “I will smoke if I want.” “If I want to drink, I will.” “No one’s going to stop me doing what I want.” “If I want to get high that’s my prerogative.” “I’m not affecting anyone else, leave me alone.” “Look, I’m just having one more pint, all right?” “It just calms me down a bit, that’s all.” “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m an adult!” “All my friends do it.” “There’s nothing else to do.” “You’re not going to change me.” Can I stop there? Not much of a script, is it? I don’t think anyone would buy that in hollywood, do you?

Hollywood Agent: What’s the script about?

You: Well, it’s about this guy and all he does is go around defending his right to do something that is bad for him and the rest of the world.

Hollywood Agent: Is that it?

You: Yes.

Hollywood Agent: I think we’ll pass.

When you aggressively defend something that is not good for you, and the other actors on their stages can see it too (people who are not addicted), you now have to find other actors who share the same opinions as you (the forming of the group at the pub, or the smokers outside at the office).

    As actors who can see the truth of addiction find you a bit weak, this leaves you centre stage again, only able to play to a select audience who like your script. Can you follow what I’m trying to get at here? This is the script you have written, and with no changes possible, you plan to follow your script exactly until the day you die.

But what if someone had cleverly tampered with your script without you noticing – in your own handwriting – making you think that this script was all your own work, and you thought you always had to follow it? Fortunately, you are in a position to write a new script, one that the tamperer will not be able to get at. One that allows the actors to interact on a new level without the chains of the old script. One that states:

I acknowledge that I am the most intelligent being on the planet

I will do what is best for my system

I acknowledge that I alone control the script of my life

and in creating a new script, I acknowledge that I am not a slave to my brain’s faulty instructions, and will never let my script be tampered with again to bind me to addiction

The stage is now yours:

Hollywood Agent: What’s the script about?

You: Well, it’s about this guy who suffers from addiction his whole life, defending his right to do something that is bad for him and the rest of the world, but through understanding of himself and the stage he plays on, he comes to understand how the life he has been defending, was never based in reality, and how once he had made a personal commitment to himself to only do good things for his system – a system he acknowledged as being the most advanced system on the planet, he transcended addiction.

Hollywood Agent: Is that it?

You: Yes.

Hollywood Agent: I’ll definitely buy that!

Addiction 2

Being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs)

An abnormally strong craving

S

o, am I still in a state of addiction? Have I taken personal responsibility for my system, one I acknowledge is the most advanced on the planet? The truth is, unless you drink so much that you poison yourself, or overdose on drugs, or get lung cancer from smoking, you will probably manage to trickle on in life, happily addicted, without severe health problems.

    Even those of you who are addicted at the moment, may eventually decide to quit all addictive substances, although it might take a health scare and a doctor to tell you that if you don’t quit smoking/drinking/drugs, you will die. That’s normally enough to get you, the most advanced being on the planet, to gain insight – which is knowledge – of yourself, your malfunctioning brain, and revolt in such a way that the change is instantaneous.

This is incredible isn’t it? That only the fear of death, which is the end of all life, is enough to motivate us to do something that is good for our system. Even someone who believes in an afterlife would not be so stupid as to let themselves die before it was time; especially if it meant a slow and painful death.

    You see, we’re not good at handling pain are we? Remember the example of the hangover in addiction 1, where we are actively calculating how much pleasure we want to buy (consumption) and balancing it with how much we are willing to pay (withdrawal)? This means we know we can handle the after-effects of six pints of beer, twenty cigarettes, or one gram of cocaine, but we know that if we cross that boundary, we are going to suffer – and suffer we will.

    I know when I’ve had enough of anything, but the brain keeps on demanding just a little bit more. Remember that this part of your brain knows nothing of suffering, it’s just there for the good times. But you know it the next day, don’t you? This is where the promises to yourself start, isn’t it?

I’ll never drink again

I’ll never touch drugs again

I’ll never smoke again

Do you recognise yourself here? I know I do. After every excess comes a realization – an insight. We know we’ve crossed the line on how much pain we can handle, and so we’re ready to promise anything to make it stop! You tell yourself how stupid you are, and what an idiot you are! “That’s it! I’m going to get healthy, eat properly, go to bed earlier, and start doing exercise.” Isn’t this amazing? I think it is. What you are actually doing is making your personal commitment to yourself to acknowledge that you are the most advanced, intelligent being on the planet and that you will do what is best for your system. Remember when we stated:

“I acknowledge that I am the most intelligent being on the planet

I will do what is best for my system”

You are clear in the moment. You are aware of yourself, and you are being true to yourself at the same time. Right now, you have freed yourselves from addiction. You are one hundred percent free. But what happens the next day, and the next? Something very strange! The better you feel, the more the body, which has also become addicted, starts craving, as the body is actually requiring these substances to continue its “normal” functioning.

    Even though you have made your personal commitment to yourself, something else has started making demands, and this time they’re a lot stronger than the brain’s demands. So what we need to understand is that when the whole system becomes addicted, the personal commitment you have made will not normally be enough for most people to get over what is just the pain of withdrawal from the substances.

You will need to be willing to accept the pain as the sum cost of years of pleasure

Depending on the substances taken, and the volume consumed, you may notice slight discomfort up to full-blown withdrawal, which can be very unpleasant. These are physical withdrawal symptoms, and are unavoidable. You must be willing to accept that you will be in discomfort for anything up to about a week or two – but that’s all! That’s not too heavy a price to pay for say, twenty years of smoking, five years of hard drugs, or fifteen years of alcohol consumption, is it? A harder price to pay would be an early death, or another twenty years of wishing you could stop!

    What we must all remember, is that this cost of physical withdrawal has the pay off of years more healthy living, not clouded by the need to satisfy your addictions, and freedom to make your life your own. Your stage will no longer be occupied by the addicted actor, you will see yourself differently, and other people will see you differently too.

Take a look at what’s in store!

You will not feel nervous about having to take a long flight in case you can’t smoke.

Your skin will look younger.

You won’t have to worry about going out in case you can’t smoke marijuana.

You will have different friends. People who like you for who you are and not because you get drunk at the pub.

Your clothes will not smell any more.

Your breath will not smell bad, and the staining on your teeth and fingers will begin to disappear.

You won’t be afraid of driving in case you are over the alcohol limit.

You won’t waste money on things that are not good for your system.

Your brain will start to feel more awake, free from the constant need to supply the body with addictive substances above all else.

Your system will be calmer and more balanced. Free from the withdrawal feelings that happen all the time.

You won’t be motivated to get a fix in the middle of the night, you will sleep more soundly.

You will wake up earlier in the morning; you will not need a cigarette before you “wake up properly.”

You will begin to see how addicted other people are.

You will begin to smell things more clearly.

You will taste food more.

You will be able to exercise more.

Above all, you will be free!

At the same time as physical withdrawal, you will have the brain telling you to smoke, drink, inject, snort – you name it, it will try anything. It is your body’s messenger and it is communicating with you in your voice. This is nothing to be scared of, although it will feel unpleasant. When you see the addiction, it will back down and your voice will become fainter.

    You will know when physical withdrawal has come to an end. You will not feel so nervous or anxious; your stomach will calm down, and your blood pressure and heart rate will regularise. In short, you will stop craving the drug. But the faulty brain will continue to be watching for opportunities to hook you back in.     Remember, once the brain has tasted pleasure, it won’t let it go without a fight. The thing to remember is, you’re through it; you are free, and as long as you remember your personal commitment to yourself:

“I acknowledge that I am the most intelligent being on the planet

I will do what is best for my system”

…you will never again feel the need to turn to addictive substances for pleasure. After all you’ve gone through, what’s a bit of stress at work, or a problem in your relationship, or money worries? These are genuine issues to be addressed by you, not some lame excuse by your brain to start feeding itself with toxins again. Of course, you could choose not to go through the short withdrawal period, not pay the cost of the pleasure – as you are the most advanced system on the planet, and able to make decisions on your own – but before you do, try to see who is making the decision…

You, or your addicted brain?

Remember, the addiction doesn’t care what happens to the system. It exists independently and will exploit any situation to get what it wants. You are just the servant who picks up the glass, the servant who lights the cigarette, the servant who injects the heroin. You are the most intelligent, sophisticated being on the planet, can you honestly tell me you don’t want to do what’s best for your system?

Support for deep addictions: Action right now

Of course, for some of you this will not be enough. I know some people who are trapped in deep addiction, people who really want to stop doing what they know to be bad for their system. They really want to stop, but they just can’t. They go to doctors, counselling, detox centres, they try everything; they even move country, but end up the same. They are desperate, but their brains and bodies keep demanding more and more, and will force them to do anything to get what they want.

    The problem with addictive substances, is they cost money. Real cash is necessary, and the deeper you descend into addiction, the harder it is to maintain a normal life. Keeping a regular job becomes harder, and more and more money is required to satisfy the addiction. You start stealing, or perhaps engage in violent robberies; you will do anything to get the substance.Then you’re caught. Up to court you go, where you may be sentenced to prison; where for a few pounds, someone will smuggle your substances in for you!

    I empathise with all of you who are really suffering in this way, although I don’t feel sorry for you. You are feeding the addiction by lifting up your glass to your mouth, by smoking, or by injecting. There is no hidden force controlling you. This is why it is vitally important to free yourself right now. This is the time to act.

For some, it’s their circle of friends, their lack of money, family problems, and lack of employment that keeps them addicted; and for others, it’s their circle of friends, their abundance of money, the perfect family, or their high stress job. Come on! Aren’t you noticing a pattern here? Everybody gives a different reason for being addicted, always giving a reason why we should feel sorry for them. Poor things. But you all have one thing in common – the addiction. The addiction that exists independently to anything else. You see, if you are an unemployed smoker, and you stand next to a wealthy banker who smokes, what do you have in common? Smoking. If you drink because you are upset you have no job, what makes you different to the man who drinks because he can’t handle the stress from too much highly paid work?

The need for alcohol drugs or cigarettes acts independently of any emotion

When you consume these substances, you are only fulfilling the need to satisfy a craving. No matter how you dress it up, you want the substance for the substances sake, and not to alleviate painful emotions. If I told you that going for a five kilometre run would help alleviate emotional pain, through the generation of endorphins, would you do it? No of course you wouldn’t! Why? Because you want the substance.

    Admit you want the substances now, and move forward. Stop deluding yourselves that you have to keep drinking or smoking because you’re so stressed. Yes, stress exists, but you deal with stress by addressing the root cause of the stress; not covering it up with a fast acting painkiller. You are addicted to the feeling; the emotion of your substances, how they makes you feel, and how you wish you always felt like that. You may have problems which need to be worked through, but worked through they must be – not locked up.

    Addictive substances make you feel good; you wouldn’t take them if they didn’t, would you? If cigarettes made you stressed, would you smokethem? If alcohol made you depressed, would you drinkit? If marijuana made you paranoid, would you smoke it? But did you know that these substances can have exactly this effect on the system?

    Stop taking the substances. Write down how you feel. Make a plan to do something better when you no longer have the substance addiction. Talk to someone. Feel how you feel.

In the beginning it’s hard. You feel nervous, empty, shaky, anxious, nauseous, or sleep deprived. Hey, these substances are really good for you – just look what doom and gloom they offer you when you stop taking them! They are punishing you for daring to live a life without them. But you can.

    Remember this. You are the most advanced, intelligent being on the planet, no one can take that away from you, and no matter how hard it is, you are doing the best for your system by stopping taking these substances. Imagine now, a free you; free of the need to consume addictive substances. Now imagine a powerful you; one who doesn’t feel afraid every time someone offers him a cigarette, a pint of beer, or a joint. Imagine smelling the air as you have never smelled it before, tasting food as you have never tasted it before, and enjoying life as it was meant to be enjoyed – without addiction.

Start now.

Addiction 3

Being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs)

An abnormally strong craving

I

 want to discuss another type of addiction with you; one that is not as easily identifiable as the ones covered in the previous sections. You see, in my mind we have the capacity to addict ourselves to anything, and this is one thing we really need to be careful of. I will continue to use the example of the faulty brain, as I believe that no healthily functioning brain would wish tocrave a specific substance day after day, especially one that does not assist the system in any useful manner.

What do you think you need to have a healthy body and mind?

How about coffee, chocolate, biscuits, sweet, sugary soft drinks?

What about cars, sex, ice cream, tv, computer games, or shopping?

Either nature thinks it’s funny watching all these supposed super-intelligent beings running around desperately addicted, or somewhere along the long road of evolution, a mistake was made; one that is now costing us dearly in freedom. Look at the previous examples. How many of us indulge in at least half of them? I will take a guess at a lot, especially in the developed world, where money has enabled us to indulge ourselves as often as we want.

Why do you think we allow ourselves to be addicted?

One word: Pleasure

That’s right. All things we consider good, worthwhile activities to spend our time on these days, are centred on one part of the brain: The pleasure part. Not the pleasure that comes from running a marathon, but easy pleasure – one you don’t have to move too far to get, one where the cost is low, and the pleasure is great! Because your brain loves pleasure!

     I would like to involve you in a little experiment, if that’s all right? I’d like you all to visualize this scenario, if you will, and remember this is not a criticism of a specific lifestyle. I would like to explore how you think about these things, that’s all.

It’s 6.00 am as you crawl out of bed, have a nice hot shower, dress for work, and go downstairs. As you turn on the tv whilst preparing your breakfast, you drink a nice strong freshly brewed coffee, and hear the weatherman giving a grim forecast of the day to come.

    “It’s gonna be a cold one today, with a strong chance of snow.”

    “Oh, that’s so inconvenient!” you think to yourself.

    “Make sure the children wrap up warm today, honey. I’ve got to go to work,” you shout upstairs to your wife.

    Breakfast finishes, and you put on your big jacket, say goodbye to the wife and kids, and jump into your car. Ahh, it’s so nice to get into your car on a cold day. You get the heater going, and whilst looking out at the wild weather outside, you turn the dial on your six-speaker cd player to your favourite music. Start the car and the two litre engineroars into life and off you drive, away from your suburban home to the city. After parking in the underground car park, you catch the lift to your warm climate controlled office.

    Meanwhile, your wife is busy getting herself and the children ready. A quick splash of french perfume, and once her jacket’s on jumps into her four-wheel drive family bus, and gets the heater on. At the end of the drive, she gives the nanny a ring on her mobile to remind her to turn on the in-car dvd screens for the kids, so they don’t get bored on their way to school; and peacefully, she heads down to her own office. She’s got a couple of meetings in town, and they’re only a short distance apart, but it makes sense to drive between them as it’s freezing today.

    Lunchtime comes, you meet your wife outside her office and drive to a nice seafood restaurant, where you have a terrine of wild salmon and tiger prawns, and she has lobster bisque, followed by red snapper served with fresh asparagus for both; and for dessert – fresh strawberries.

    After lunch you both return to your offices, where you deal with emails, and have several meetings; whilst at your wife’s office, she is briefed on an important business trip she has to make next month (she also makes a note on her laptop to make sure the nanny has organised the children’s after-school activities whilst she will be away).

    It’s now about 7.00 pm, and it’s snowing heavily, as you make your way home. Your wife arrived a short while ago, and has ordered a takeaway for everyone, as it’s the nanny’s night off. You take a nice relaxing shower after your hard day, get changed, and retire downstairs, where you open a nice bottle of red wine to share with your wife. Soon afterwards, the doorbell rings, and your takeaway arrives.

    After dinner, you and your wife retire in front of your new plasma tv with the latest hollywood blockbuster, whilst the kids are upstairs playing the latest computer game. A couple of hours pass, the kids are in bed, and you retire upstairs to your ultra cosy feather down duvet, and fall gently asleep…

How many of you live a life similar to this?

More importantly, how many of you aspire to this life?

What is it about this life that attracts you? This family obviously has money, nice cars, and the parents both hold high positions in their companies. They dine out often, the children go to private school, they have a well furnished house, with all the latest gadgets, buy all the latest fashions, and like the finer things in life.

    Let’s go into this shall we? We are not going to discuss lifestyle choices, why money is important, why a good job is important, or whether it is environmentally sound to be running two cars, or even if takeaway food is a good or bad thing. What we want to be discussing is the brain’s addiction to these things.

Most of you would think that there is nothing wrong in having a lifestyle like this. You’re very busy, and anything that can make your life a little easier is not a bad thing; and anyway, you’ve worked hard to get where you are today. You didn’t have this kind of comfort when you were young, and you want to make sure your children have a better chance in life than you had. Stated like this, I think everyone would have to agree that it’s not a bad thing.

    “Where’s the harm in it? I lead a peaceful life, I keep myself to myself, I always pay my taxes, I donate to charity twice a year, I do voluntary work when I can, I always give to down and outs on the streets, and I help out at my children’s school.”

“Show me why having a nice comfortable life is a bad thing!”

At this point, you would probably be angry that I even suggested such a thing; “How dare he challenge me! I work really hard and what I choose to spend my time and money on is nobody’s business but mine!” But we are not discussing whether a comfortable lifestyle is a good or bad thing. We are discussing how the brain can become addicted, not only to alcohol, but to a lifestyle; to a flat panel tv, or air conditioning in your car.

    Let me ask you a question, what does a comfortable lifestyle and alcohol have in common? Most of you would say nothing. On the surface that appears a correct assumption to make, but on closer examination, they specifically have two things in common:

             1. They both act on the brain’s pleasure centres

                      Just think how excited you were when you bought that new car, all shiny, with brand new leather seats, and multi stack cd changer. Now think how much you enjoyed that beer after a hard day at work.

             2. They both have withdrawal symptoms

                      Just think about having to sell your nice shiny car, because you couldn’t afford the repayments any more as you had been made redundant. Now think about how you feel the morning after too many drinks, as the hangover hits.

Withdrawal. That is the key word. You like the pleasure of having the beer, the coffee, the car, the leather sofa, the swimming pool, the designer clothes, the shoes, the exotic fruits, or the exquisite meats; but what happens when you can’t have them anymore? A feeling of loss, a feeling of emptiness, the same kind the body has on withdrawal from narcotic drugs. When your body and your mind get too used to something, they end up not being able to live without it. Of course, we all know that none of these things are necessary for the healthy functioning of the system, but once we’ve tasted them, it’s so, so hard to give them up, isn’t it? Remember the alcohol addict?

     “I don’t need it, I just want it! I deserve it, I’ve worked hard today! If I want, I will go for a drink, no one’s going to tell me what to do.” Well, how about “I don’t need a new tv, I just want one,” or to be more exact: “I don’t want a new tv, I need one!”

     When we are talking about possessions that make us happy, we seem to change it around to “need” not “want” (as want sounds greedy, and needsounds as if you have no compulsion to buy the tv but the other one’s a bit old so it needs replacing), whereas the man drinking wants to convince us he doesn’t need a drink, he just wants one! An interesting thing is happening here; do you see? “I don’t want a new car, I need a new car.” “I don’t want a new sofa, I need one.”

I don’t want to have to buy the new mp3 player, but the old one doesn’t hold enough songs, so I need a new one.

Do you really need a new mp3 player? Do you need it for the healthy functioning of the system? No, it just makes us happy to have a new one, especially as it’s all shiny. It’s the latest gadget to enhance your life! I know what it feels like to buy something new; you know what you want, you go to the shop. You see it, you touch it: “Oh it feels good, soon, it will be mine! It looks so nice, so colourful, so shiny; not like the old scratched one.” You reach for your wallet, complete the sale, and it’s yours!

Ahh, pure pleasure…

And the advertisers know it. They know how to make you buy their goods; they know what you want, and they use psychology to help you get it. They know you buy for pleasure, and they use images and messages that appeal to the pleasure centres of the brain (and you thought it was your idea to buy the brand new all singing all dancing, multi-format, video playing, portable music player). They appealed to your friends’ pleasure centresand even if they didn’t get to you, they know that peer pressure will soon have you shuffling along to the shops, to splash out your hard earned pennies on the same (or better) product! Bit scary isn’t it?

    So let us just say for now, that anything which has a positive effect on the brain’s pleasure centres is liable to cause an addiction, and our brain lets us know that now we have it, we must not let it go. It makes us happy, and to have it withdrawn would cause us psychological pain.

    Imagine if you will, a child with the latest toy. The child is naughty, and to punish him you take away the toy. Oh, how that child will cry! Now imagine yourself with the latest toy, and somebody steals it! Oh, how you cry (on the inside; after all you are an adult now).

    The interesting thing is, that if you’ve never been exposed to anything that stimulates the pleasure centres of the brain, you will never become addicted. Do you follow? If I have never tasted alcohol and no one I know has either, will I seek it out, just because it brings pleasure? Does my brain know about it before I have been told that it has pleasurable effects?

    If I have never seen a tv do I want one? If I have never seen an mp3 player will I crave it? Will I be so desperate to have a cigarette if my peers had not convinced me to try it? We are hard-wiring ourselves for pleasure. Everything in life is about satisfying this superficial desire for pleasure. I am not here to criticise you for your choices, merely to illuminate them. The reasons for this desire are many, and we will go into this in detail in other topics.

Action now

Be aware of the feeling you get; that little flutter of excitement in your stomach, the feeling of anticipation of pleasure, and watch yourself when you go to buy something new. Now step outside yourself for a moment, just before you sip that first alcoholic drink of the day, or smoke that first cigarette. I am sure you will understand what I have been talking about. Now try to stop yourself from drinking, buying, or smoking and your brain will be on the defence straight away.

“No one’s going to tell me what I can or can’t have. I want it and I’m going to have it.”

if you are concerned about addiction for yourself or otheRs or are in danger of hurting your yourself or others please call the emergency services immediately wherever you are in the wORLD

List of worldwide emergency telephone numbers click here

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