The Addiction Connection

Broadening our view on what it means to be "addicted"

Changing Our View on Addiction

We often wonder about the problem of addiction, but what if the addiction was the solution and we need new tools to solve the problem? Let's begin to shift the paradigm of addiction and pause before we judge. Read More

changing our view of addition

it's twofold -- pleasure seeking and physical addiction. until one addresses the core issue that causes the unhealthy behavior, it will continue.
1. every one needs something to do -- whether it's a profession or volunteering.
2. every one needs regular exercise -- even if it's as simple as walking.
3. every one needs other people -- even if it's just one person.
4. every one needs nutritious diet.
5. every one needs God.

Our "core"

I like your colleague's comment about Philip Seymour Hoffman. Drugs and alcohol obviously calmed hi, but calmed him from what? It's too bad that the man didn't go I to a total rehab setting with intense psychotherapy. I guess he didn't really want to get better. Too bad for his kids. They're now fatherless.

Dangers of definitions being too broad, and less useful

You state: "Definitions will always be adjusted and expanded"... Why can't or shouldn't definitions also be refined or narrowed? For example, consider altruism. Do you consider that to be an 'addiction'? Continually doing good deeds for others, even to the point of hurting him or herself in the view of others, the altruist may be feeling some gratification or (pain-relief) by such behavior. So would altruism be included as an addiction in an expanded definition? I think many would prefer to call that 'commitment' or 'dedication' instead of addiction, and yet, they all share some common features.

I think labels are less

I think labels are less useful than really looking at the function of certain behaviors. I think Dr. Khoddam would agree that definitions should be refined continuously as scientists learn more about the overlap and distinctions among "disorders" because it helps people to communicate about a certain set of characteristics that some behaviors share. It also helps to distinguish one set of maladaptive behaviors from another. Nevertheless, when it comes to helping people overcome "addictions" however defined, what matters is the set of behaviors that are harming the person or others. The categories matters less. This is why addiction is currently seen as existing on a continuum, rather than as a category. Many addictive behaviors overlap with other categories of behaviors, and people exhibit these behaviors to various extents with varying levels of consequences to themselves and to others.

Labeling behaviors

I think labels are less useful than really looking at the function of certain behaviors. I think Dr. Khoddam would agree that definitions should be refined continuously as scientists learn more about the overlap and distinctions among "disorders" because it helps people to communicate about a certain set of characteristics that some behaviors share. It also helps to distinguish one set of maladaptive behaviors from another. Nevertheless, when it comes to helping people overcome "addictions" however defined, what matters is the set of behaviors that are harming the person or others. The categories matters less. This is why addiction is currently seen as existing on a continuum, rather than as a category. Many addictive behaviors overlap with other categories of behaviors, and people exhibit these behaviors to various extents with varying levels of consequences to themselves and to others.

Addiction/Mental Disorders/Family Dysfunction/Sadness

My 20 year old daughter abuses alcohol and was in treatment for 3 months when she was a sophomore in high school. She has been on an emotional roller coaster since and has been in years of therapy with little improvement. I have attempted to have a healthy relationship with her but get conned, abused, manipulated and used. It makes me feel so badly as she is my only child. The other day she brought up some of the most personal issues I have dealt with throughout my life and literally threw them in my face. When she has been suicidal, I have contacted authorities to report it and do a wellness check on her as she does not live with me. The stress alone trying to be a loving parent and attempting to negotiate the murky waters is an uphill battle to put it mildly. The Police have NO CONCEPT of mental illness and I personally do not know if she has borderline personality disorder or is bipolar as her moods are explosive and she complains of having no friends and feeling isolated. I am at my wits end and the Dept of Human Services does not provide dual disorder intensive therapy and how could I convince her to go much less take her meds? Help!

harsh realities

I'm so sorry to hear about what is happening with you and your family. This is unfortunately something that happens all too often throughout the country. We live in a society that does not have the proper infrastructure, system, and guidelines to help those with mental illness, including substance use disorders. The police's hands are tied unless there is "imminent danger" and unfortunately, it is often too late at that point. Here's a post I wrote several months back on this issue:
https://psychconnection.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/imminent-danger-the-pro...

Unfortunately, I don't have an easy solution or answer for you. What I can say is that there are many avenues and types of treatment and not everything works for everyone. There are good psychiatrists and psychologists who can help and it is important to find one that will work with you and your daughter. I obviously do not know the extent of what you're going through based off of what you wrote, but my main message is that I encourage you to hold hope for your daughter, continue to find resources, seek help for your own self as you go through this difficulty, and continue to love her even though you may not agree with her decisions.

I wish you all the best in you and your family's journey.

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Rubin Khoddam is a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California.

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