Addiction is all about seeking a remedy for overwhelming feelings of helplessness, and the exact form of an addiction, whether drinking or eating or watching online pornography, is no more than a focus for the addiction, not its cause. This is why people so often change the form of their addiction, moving from alcoholism to compulsive gambling to compulsive shopping, and on and on. That’s why it is so important that you are able to notice the signs of addiction before they have the ability to take over someone’s life. For example, if you know someone who has an addiction to gambling, then this responsible gambling guide could help you to know what to look out for so you can stop it whilst you can. Having one addiction over the course of your life is definitely uncommon. People switch it up. Whilst some are able to regain control, and can look at an Oddsmonkey review here to reign it in, others struggle. Wouldn’t it be strange if people really were powerless over the focus of their addiction? When a person switched from alcoholism to compulsive gambling we’d have to say he was now powerless over something new. As the focus shifted there could be no end to the things he was powerless over – his powerlessness could spread like wildfire! (“I used to be powerless over just alcohol, but now peanut butter has me in its grip.”)
What’s interesting is the fact that whilst some people can quickly become addicted to these things, others have no trouble in having one drink or one bet before they call it a day. Many people can read about some of the biggest wins in online gambling and have no desire to empty their savings in the hopes of matching it. There has been a lot of research into whether addiction is rooted in our personality, but that notion that people are powerless over the focus of their addiction is terribly demoralizing. Addictions are neither more nor less than compulsions, psychological behaviors most people have to some degree. That fact has been a great relief to people with addictions who have been made to feel different and less than the rest of humanity. But if you buy the idea that you are powerless over the chemical in a bottle (or the peanut butter on the shelf or the offshore gambling website) then you are deprived of this honest relief. Instead, you must admit your worst fear: you are in fact different and certainly less capable than everyone around you who is able to drink with impunity.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol” is, of course, Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous. 12-step programs have been statistically shown to have a 5-10% success rate. Step One isn’t the only reason for this, but it is clearly a part of the problem.