Are Drug Addicts and Alcoholics Different?

I’m not defined by my addiction because my recovery is defined by me.

Let me start with an opinion I have of addiction and alcoholism to prove my point so my conclusion at the end is mutually agreed, as correct. I believe they are, fundamentality and medically, different from each other and, as such, do not belong in the same class as each other. Two completely different conditions being used to try and summarize one illness and create unity, which I think is great, but they are different.

You want an example? 

We’ll use the same guy for both tests…we’ll call him Dan. We are going to intravenously inject Dan with the finest fentanyl Santa Ana has to offer for 30 days. Why not heroin, you ask? Simple, they don’t sell heroin anymore so, you’re welcome, Dan. After 30 days, we are going to stop giving Dan his intravenous treatment, making Dan wish he hadn’t volunteered for this medical test. Dan is going to be very uncomfortable, for a while. Dan is physically addicted to the drugs, making it difficult to get clean, physically and mentally, but he will. As soon as we finish helping Dan get better, we are going to pour a fifth of vodka down his throat for 30 days. Yes, we are fucking Dan up and after that 30 days, one of two things will happen:

1. Dan will either decide that 30 days of alcohol abuse was awful and never do it again.
2. Dan will decide that it helped him, somehow, and will continue the same rate of intake.

Am I an addict?

Either way, he will not be physically addicted to either, after the 30 days, any longer and the only thing that would encourage him to return to either of those awful experiences is how he mentally interpreted the experiences themselves. Physical dependency and mental obsession are different from each other. Therefore, anyone can become a drug addict, but not everyone can become an alcoholic, in the classic sense. Regardless of this silly argument about them being mutually inclusive or exclusive has absolutely no bearing on what, actually, unifies us; the common denominator in determining your truth, which is the mental part of it.

That part that rationalizes the meaning of a situation in which you find yourself overdosing in the hospital bathroom and being concerned, mainly, if you’re going to be missing the guy dropping off the speed. That’s me, though.

If you’re a “drug addict” that is currently clean, contemplating my example; I can assure you within the realm of a certainty that you probably belong in the above class, the class of fucked. Normal people’s first thought is not about the idea of getting fucked when someone explains that the tragic and life-threatening addiction they suffered from may have been a misunderstanding. Factually, getting fucked up probably the last thing they think about.

Nice try though! I understand that rationalization, though.

Getting high because some drug addict who, frankly, has no business being alive, provided a compelling argument on the terminal medical condition as “Addiction.” Though compelling, or not, has no counseling or medical credentials to back it; nor does he have any medical experience of any kind except for the medical assessments and volumes that have and could be written about him.

That is what identifies us.

“The body of the (addict) is quite as abnormal as his mind”. If there was ever a fucking characteristic of mine that was understated and misinterpreted, that was it. The concept of my body being in the same fucking realm as my mind is laughable…now. Do heroin for a while and stop, you get sick…like everyone else…but a few weeks later, you’re right as rain and never have to do that again. Instead, you do it anyway…with no recollection of the suffering you just went through…or the flatline overdose that you had the day before detox that was the motivating factor for you going to detox in the first place because, then, it was a little serious. But that was then, it’s different now. This time you know, precisely, how you will avoid overdose; be safe and just carry Narcan with you, obviously. Be responsible, you know? It’s a clean slate where anything can happen, literally…like you’re a fucking liability and nobody that cares about you sees it as something to look forward to, except you.

This all sounds very funny now but it truly…was not.

A person capable of thinking like this and being that dishonest with themselves has a MAJOR fucking problem. Ever heard the phrase, “Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy,” they were referring to people like me. That is what I identify with. At age 27 or 28 I had an experience while I was on the toilet that I’ll never forget, it changed my perception forever. I got high after a small period of abstinence and experienced the most painful detox EVER! But, as soon as it hit my bloodstream, I had a very weird insight and it said, “That was a really bad idea, dude! Now you can’t stop.” That was the first time I consciously “understood” that, age 28, slow learner. Let me tell you exactly why I’m grateful I understand this, now.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

I heard this for the first time at age 8 or so and still hear it at times today, more infrequently. My Dad and I were painting the new deluxe-jungle-jim-swing-set-thing he had just bought for me. Instead of painting the swing set, I painted myself from head to testicles; this was a bad choice considering he had to get it off my body with paint thinner but, specifically, my testicles. After that painful lesson, I did it again 20 minutes later, like it never happened. In fact, I think I started painting my testicles first, the second time. Why would someone do that?

“I’m a slow learner.”

This is a good one that I used a lot. The most memorable time was at age 16 when I decided to have sex with my, then, girlfriend while her parents were in the same room a few yards away…right after the Dad had manhandled me two weeks prior when he caught me doing the same thing. Motherfucker was big, angry, and had 0 qualms with letting me know who was in charge. After a miscommunication on point of insertion, followed by her loud scream, I got decked, again. I wasn’t concerned about that though, I just wanted to figure out if I was going to be allowed back over and, if so, what are the odds that we can just hang out in her room next time. Seems like a reasonable question, right?

“Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

This one is a gem. My personal favorite for an attempt at comic relief in the wake of a tragedy. Enter this auto response; every time the music stops after a long drug induced train wreck with new consequences unfathomable to the last. Most appropriately used when historical data is referenced and accompanied by a simple question like, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

But, we’ll talk about drugs later.

The situation that stands out most? Has to be age 20 when I went to a punk show in Santa Ana where there was no security, no rules, and no common sense. I picked a fight with a bus full of fans. It diffused, fortunately. I knew that if I stayed out of the pit the rest of the night I’d get to keep my teeth. So, at the end of the show, on the last song, I went in. Guess what happened? I got my fucken ass beat and stomped by as many people that could, at once. Despite the obvious, “Glenn, why would you do that knowing it was going to happen?” Cracked teeth and both black eyes later, the only answer was that it seemed like a good idea at the time.…and a week later I was at another one. But, all of them pale in comparison to the almighty:

“I didn’t think that would happen.”

“What the fuck do you mean?” I mean that…precisely! That even after incinerating my life 100% of the time, ruining lives, destroying relationships, overdosing, going to rehab in Mexico, cocaine seizures on airplanes, all of the knowledge about my condition, and turning my ex-wife’s world upside down, again. This time in record time; 3 years faster and thousands more expensive that included her, now totaled, transportation to work…the one she goes to because she doesn’t want to sell weapons or drugs to pay bills.

“I don’t know.”

Listen, people that get accidentally and physically addicted to drugs don’t think like that. They, legitimately, were involved in a misunderstanding; nothing that Buprenophrine can’t fix. There was a great deal of my life I believed I was wrestling with a drug addiction that, occasionally, got a little out of hand, but could ultimately be tamed.

After much deliberation, the problems could not be called mistakes anymore; something had to be wrong. I couldn’t just chalk it up to an overreaction to coincidences and misunderstandings of circumstances. Sometimes, I don’t even realize it until I talk about it, but even more shocking than that is there was a period of time, namely my whole adult life, that I didn’t know at all.

Completely oblivious to it and then after World War III on replay for a decade, I loosely considered that the way I was functioning seemed a little destructive and repetitive.

Then I got scared.

Not from physical addiction, but my mental obsession. What makes me, fundamentally, different than Deb, the 45-year-old soccer Mom with 4 kids that got a few Norco for her hip, liked them, and took them over a long period of sedated hip recovery…and then started drinking wine with them, regularly, because her ungrateful kids were driving her nuts and Dr. Dick Face kept giving her refills because he had to hit that end of month pharmaceutical bonus.

So, she got physically addicted but…Deb is going to be just fine because she had an experience in which she internalized it was “irresponsible, needs to stop” not, “out of control, needs to be fixed.” She needs to stop, not quit. She remembers the irresponsibility, and we forget the insanity of trying to be like Deb and control it.

Then I knew.

What I have is a mental obsession and a physical compulsion; once it starts, I have no control over its stop. Once I knew this factually at age 21, the rest of my adult life was spent with the knowledge of my mental deficiency but no understanding.

The knowledge of this, alone, did not contain the profound nature I needed, obviously. Every failure in which I trusted my knowledge, even partially, a mind that was maladjusted to the rest of the world would try to find a crack to slip through.

How can a person who is mentally ill think their way out of mental illness? This was the subconscious riddle I tried to solve for a decade. Still haven’t.

Then I understood.

I have an obsession so that fixates me on the relief of the drugs and then, once I succumb to it, a compulsion so immense that I cannot muster enough power to stop the compulsive behavior. But it gets worse. It was a vicious and cyclical problem. It started with an obsession requiring me to use, followed by a compulsion that I, and everyone else for that matter, was ineffective in breaking until I was physically stopped, and resolved with a firm commitment to never do it again…until the obsession came again and around we went. Those exact same 3 components were prevalent in every area of my life where I liked the way something made me feel fulfilled.

In that precise order obsession, compulsion, and commitment to stop; this was present with women, video games, food, gym, exercise, football, movies, candy, and writing stuff like this. It started fun, then fun with consequences as I overdid it, then all consequences; as it took over, priority of relief being more important than anything else.

I was unable to use ANYTHING I felt relief in with any type of moderation because I was filling a void that was infinite.

I gave up trying to THINK of a solution.

I got tricked into staying around by believing drugs were the problem, compulsions were the problem, obsession was the problem…but I was the problem. The infinite void was the problem. It never occurred to me that there was no external remedy for it; that my feeble attempts to “fill” the void had been inside of me all along,

I just couldn’t access it. Crazy people are crazy, and my inability to be honest with myself about being honest with myself is what made me crazy. It’s an easy thing to hear, but a hard thing to comprehend.

I mean, it’s your fucking brain, your mind. There’s a defense mechanism called ego that tells you, “They’re crazy. That’s crazy. I’m not crazy,” and it’s buddy pride that says, “Fuck you I can’t do it, watch me!”

That is what makes Dan and Deb different from you and me. Dan and Deb understand that they have a problem and that it needs to be solved; unfortunately, their problem just requires an acknowledgement and recognition of it because they’re not fucking crazy.

Ours requires an admission of defeat from your defective mind…that’s attached to you…always. Then, followed by, very simply, a sounder mind directing your actions until you’re not ‘as crazy.’

The minute you forget your crazy, then you become crazy again because you don’t know you’re crazy anymore… and then do crazy shit; and just like that, in a moments time, thinking that intravenous drug use, socially, might work this time and no defense to prevent it.

That’s the difference between addicts and alcoholics…in the classic sense.

Before debating this, just know that I really don’t give a fuck about the comparison of apples and oranges if they’re all rotten, but I do care about your opinion because it interests me. And I do appreciate you reading it.

If you’re reading this far because of that, let me know, because that was the intention. Feel free to prove me wrong, hopefully with a, “weird, one off situation or scenario,” to make an exception to why it’s false…those are my favorite ones to use after all . Or a brilliant one that blows my mind…that’d be cool.

The debate is, in my case, really irrelevant either way because neither of those defines me, primarily.

I’m not a product drug addiction, drug addiction is a product of me. That, I am absolute about.

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