Farewell addiction

I do not like the words addiction or addict. It makes me think of commonly used labels, such as “disease”, “powerlessness”, “patient” and the need for a “higher power”. It creates a sense of unavoidable dependency and despair, taking away the incentive for an active personal involvement in working on recovery, on healing. I prefer to talk about unhealthy habits, and these include unhealthy thinking habits.

The public generally relates these words to drugs and alcohol. In the process we tend to forget so many other types of unhealthy behaviours (depression, ADHD, anorexia and bulimia nervosa, self-mutilation, sex, gambling, shopping, cleaning, etc.)

Furthermore, the word addiction stigmatises staggering numbers of people for life, causing suffering because of feelings of shame or guilt (see post “You are not alone”). Once an addict, always an addict is a regretful expression that I hear often when visiting clinics or in meetings of 12-step programs.

And lastly, the medical community is focusing on the treatment of the symptoms and not handling the root cause of these “diseases” or “disorders”. Treatment is largely based on the long-term use of medication with severe side effects, whereas it is a known fact that relapse rates remain high and placebos work surprisingly well.

It is noteworthy that over the past decades the number of mental disorders has grown from a handful (when I graduated in 1983 there were around 50) to over 300 currently included in the DSM IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association.

I prefer to talk about unhealthy habits. Habits are “learned” behavior. It is obvious that depending on the nature and the duration of practicing unhealthy habits, they can cause diseases in the classical sense of the word (liver damage, respiratory problems, degeneration of brain tissue, heart disease, skin problems, etc.) that may require medical treatment, but this will not take away the habit.

I have personally experienced that unhealthy habits can be unlearned. It’s all in the mind.  And there are ways to change for the better. This website is my humble attempt to help do just that.

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