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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

How do you experience your addiction(s)?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38932points) December 12th, 2009

We all have addictive behavior but we do not experience addiction in the same way. For years I have been trying to explain to people that I could start and quit smoking cold turkey and not experience any physical withdrawal or side effects. I know others for whom this is simply impossible and I think it’s all about having a specific biochemistry that makes one more physically dependent on substances. So for some people a physical addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, nicotine is how their addiction takes place.

OTOH, I always said that my addictions have more to do with the realm of feeling and emotion – meaning that I get addicted to how an experience makes me feel (for example: seducing another, falling in love, engaging in a deep conversation with someone new) and want to have that experience over and over. I have a lot less control over that so my addiction is emotional.

We have also been discussing gaming as of late – and I think that kind of an addiction is visual and mental at the same time but it also has to do with rewards and instant gratification. Does all addiction amount to reward and instant gratification? I think an addiction to porn or watching others strip or masturbate is something like that as well – a visual trip leading to a response within the body that goes beyond the visual…

More, for others the addiction is oral/touch-based which is different from a physical addiction I described in the beginning, in my mind. It’s about tasting something with your tongue and lips or taste buds or finger tips or other parts of your body – that’s more of a contact addiction – I have a bit of that when it comes to close embrace Tango.

So what kind are yours? Are there others? How do you experience your addictions?

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34 Answers

eeveegurl's avatar

First of all, this is an amazing question. I’m kind of stumped by it – still thinking a lot about it and not quite sure how to answer it. I’m excited to read the responses other people are going to write.

I’m more like you. I have a very addictive nature, but they’re rarely physical addictions (instead I experience fleeting physical cravings). Most of the time I get addicted to the way I feel, whether it be how a person makes me feel (giddy, excited, fascinated, etc.) or how an activity makes me feel (winning, beating out the competition, etc) which explains how I can easily get obsessed with someone and why I’m so competitive.

One could argue that an addiction to drugs could also be feeling based – they don’t always have to be purely physical. Sure, it adjusts your neurochemistry, but (for me, at least) it’s more about recreating the feeling you get while you’re on the drug.

more thoughts on this topic as others reply and I can bounce ideas off them

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@eeveegurl I know it’s a lot more complex – it could always be a mix of things but it is interesting to reflect on what kind of an addictive nature we have and how does it manifest itself most often? I forgot to put down that I do have an addiction to some foods like Nutella and ice cream and I like how they feel when you consume them, the smooth texture…

eeveegurl's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – you’re right! I used to have the same addiction to Nutella (before I started hating chocolate) because of the way I could make it feel rough and smooth by running my tongue over it with different amounts of force.


CyanoticWasp's avatar

Chocolate. I’ve been jonesing for it since I finished the Halloween candy last week. It was great; I only had two trick-or-treaters, and I had two bags each of Mounds and Nestle Crunch bars. But I also made myself kind of sick on that chocolate from time to time, too.

But as for the “seduction, falling in love, deep & meaningful conversation”, etc., I wouldn’t classify that as “addiction” unless you do it to an extent that it does make you sick, interferes with normal life activities, or otherwise drives your life to an unhealthy extreme. Like being on Fluther all night, night after night… ahem.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@CyanoticWasp like the user name I am using addiction very loosely…not the kind that interferes with life but the kind that is life, you know?

mowens's avatar

I don’t think I can talk about it in a G rated manner.

SirGoofy's avatar

Ooooooooo. After reading this question…it made me realize that I’ve got’em all. Scary.
My biggest addiction is drawing. Yeah…you heard right…drawing. Sometimes, when I start drawing I get so “into it” that I’ll forget to eat. So, I’m just stuck there, leaning over my drafting table on total mental vacation. I like the feel of the smooth graphite on the surface of the paper. I like the soft scratchy sound the pencil makes on the paper. I like the smell of the eraser, but mostly I like watching the negative white space fill up with something that wasn’t there to begin with. So, you tell me.

mowens's avatar

I have a very strong addiction that took me years to overcome. Sexual addiction. It is hard for anyone to break, but especially someone in my demographic. A gay male. Think about it, it is a bunch of guys. What do guys want?

It took me a year to realize there was a pattern, anouther year to realize that there was a problem… a third year to decide something to do about it, and a fourth year to finally actuly take action. I have read several books on addiction, sexual addiction, and even specific books about gay hook ups and how they are addicting, and what to do to stop it.

I’ve always been a romantic at heart. I didn’t start out an addict. I just didn’t realize the places I was looking for guys wasn’t the place to be looking for relationships. Plus, it can be addicting. Thankfully I have always been as safe as today’s technology allows, but it still isnt safe.

To sum the above in one line:

I am not a whore, but I used to be.

janbb's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Like you, I do not tend to have physcial addictions. I can drink or not drink; I have started and stopped smoking with no problems – for good about 25 years ago. I do get addicted to certain emotional experiences and have trouble distancing myself from them when it is necessary.

wundayatta's avatar

My addiction is also love. Finding it makes me feel better about myself— sometimes for several decades; sometimes for a smaller period of time. It all seems to depend on how stable I am, otherwise. Once I went through the drama—the high of falling in love; the deep depression of losing it—six times in a year.

It comes from a deep feeling that I am undesirable and worthless. The worse I get, the more I seek reconfirmation.

I struggle against it all the time. I would like to be able to confirm myself by myself. I would like to not have what feels like a hole in the middle of my stomach that can’t be filled. I wish my wife made me feel that way. But I find myself fantasizing about a new lover, and I know that following through on that would hurt many people. I don’t understand it, either, because my relationship with my wife is better than it has been in a decade. In fact, it feels like the definition of crazy to me.

I try to analyze it—see where it comes from—and there seem to be so many possible reasons. Maybe I am self-destructive. Maybe I am a sociopath. Maybe it’s my childhood. Maybe it’s a function of bipolar disorder. Maybe I need more love. Maybe I constantly need to prove to myself that I am lovable. I don’t know, but it feels like it is beyond my control.

Then I beat myself up for even thinking that it’s out of my control. Of course I can control it. So if I’m not controlling it, it must mean I don’t want to. Which must mean I’m sociopathic. Blah, blah, blah. Of course, I feel worse about myself, which makes being loved all that much more important. I go up and down. I give up wanting to stop going up and down, and I want to stop taking my meds to see what will happen and because I’m sick of thinking of myself as sick. Sometimes I think that if I give in, maybe it will lose its power over me.

Through it all, though, the hunger never goes away. I never have a chance for that hunger to be satisfied, anyway, because I spend all my time at work, or with my family. I have no time to myself, except virtually, and virtual love—while it simulates the feelings quite powerfully, is not even close to being able to look into the eyes of a real woman, and to feel her hunger for me matching my hunger for her.

Of course, I’m sure like many addicts, I hate myself for needing this; for being in the thrall of this hunger. I have no power over it, and I feel like that must be a bullshit idea. I hate saying I have no power, because it feels like I am just trying to justify the behavior—both to myself, as well as to others.

It feels like there’s no enough love in the world to make me feel ok. Which leads back to me. I’m the only one who can fix this. No one else can, even though it feels very nice when they try. In fact, at the moment, it’s the only thing that works—“feeling the love,” so-to-speak. And in that, am I so different from anyone else?

Blondesjon's avatar

In a drunk and disorderly manner.

who can watch The Young and the Restless sober? i’m not a machine.

janbb's avatar

@daloon Wow! Powerful analysis; beautifully written as always.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’m a chain-smoker and drink a bit more than is healthy. I also require Valium to sleep most nights.

nebule's avatar

my addictions are generally to do with taste and filling my insides up…because I feel empty sometimes… but then I am emotionally addictive..I get addicted to people…I’m addicted to the chase of happiness…

JLeslie's avatar

I think my addictions help me avoid things I don’t want to do. Like, as I sit in front of my computer answering Fluther, instead of running some errand. But, also I think I do things that occupy my mind so I don’t think about if I am bored, lonely, or upset. I also seem to gravitate towards doing things that give me positive reinforcement, especially related to my brain or creativitiy. So things like drugs, alcohol, and smoking have never been an issue.

I once read an article on addiction, and one example was about people who have food addictions (but the point of the article was that all addictions are similar) and it made the example of someone walking by a McDonald’s, they think to themselves I am not going to go in and buy a quarterpounder then they might think maybe I will go in and get a salad? Then by the time they are in the restaurant and at the front of the line they are at well, I’ll just get a quarter pounder with small fries and a diet coke, and I will eat really healthy for dinner. Then they eat it all up, and then they spend an hour or more afterwards thinking about how they should not have eaten at McD’s. The point of the articles was this person has now occupied their mind for hours thinking about whether to eat, regretting to eat etc. Time spent not having to think about what they don’t want to do that day, or whatever emotional sadness they have. I find that very interesting. So the food, but even more than the food, the process is like a drug I guess.

I don’t consider myself a very addictive person, but I think we all have some tendencies. If I had to come up with a list of addictions for myself it would be TV, Fluther, Facebook, and food. Because, I probably do those 4 things more than I should.

dogkittycat's avatar

My addiction is chocolate, but only around “that time of the month”. Any other time I’m fine, I actually avoid chocolate and sweets. (trying to tone my abs a bit) . I don’t have any real destructive addictions, I crave some things at times but not to an unhealthy extent and I usually resist anyway.

wundayatta's avatar

Are addictions to emotional experiences really addictions? Or are they a medicalization of natural human behavior (as always, a plot by health care providers to get more money).

Cupcake's avatar

Sometimes I eat more than I should… even more than I want, especially when I’m stressed I’m stressed often.
I find a million reasons to not exercise, even though I need it and it feels good.

For me, as bizarre as this may sound, I sometimes feel addicted to avoiding addictions.
– I avoid alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs like the plague. I have many addictions and instabilities on both sides of my family and I have a great fear of developing drug/alcohol addictions.
– I avoid caffeine and have never had coffee. I am afraid of being addicted to caffeine.
– I insist on quiet volumes (music, TV, car radio, talking, etc.) out of fear of losing hearing capacity – not quite the same as an addiction… but it eats up brain space.
– Other than Ibuprofen, without which I could not physically move, and occasional migraine medicine, because my migraines don’t go away on their own, I avoid over-the-counter medications because I don’t want to need them.

Actually, it all probably has more to do with trust/abandonment issues than addiction when I think about it… but I’ve typed this much so far that I’ll just hit answer anyway.

kewlguy_exABuser's avatar

Wow, what incredible responses, where do I even begin….as my name creatively describes and if you read in my profile, I too am a ex-addict and still deal with addiction on a daily basis. I am compelled to bare my soul on this question, but the response would be a book, so I will try to condense it somewhat.
My major addictions are sex and drugs, if you really think about it they go hand in hand and compliment each other nicely when using, not that I am condoning that type of behavior, it’s just a fact.
I am dealing with these “cravings” currently and know the signs when we start deciding to go down that wrong path…once again. I always love to refer to the lyrics of Hotel California to back up how I feel: ” they stabbed it with their steely knives, but they just couldn’t kill the beast” and “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave”
This song is so powerful and ties in so perfectly with this question, I just had to add it.
In the beginning of my answer I wrote “ex-addict”, however now re-reading it I should of put just “addict” because an addict will always be an addict, we just need to learn how to deal with the disease and live a productive life without that addiction, and it isn’t easy!
I have been through a court-ordered drug rehab program called SAFPF(Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility) where they educate you on every aspect of addiction and relapse and how to prevent it -even though I didn’t want to be there, I will admit that it is very educational you will learn alot if you allow yourself to.
One saying that I learned that has always stuck deeply with me is: “IF YOU DON’T CHANGE…YOU WILL BE BEGGING FOR CHANGE” this saying hits so close to home because I have been on that side of addiction – I know what it’s like to have a wonderful life one moment and have it slip away through addiction to where you are wondering where your next fix is going to come from and how you are going to pay for it. There is poem that I will post later that covers this addiction so graphically that it will scare you to death, I need to find it first.
I could go on, but promised to keep it short – I hope I have stuck to the subject and shed light on some aspect of the question – I am here if anyone would like to know more.

seeing_red's avatar

While this question is awesome, the details within got me. I lurve the details to the point of wishing I could give you more lurve for them.

I’m not even sure how to answer this question. I’ve been addicted to things and then stopped cold turkey, but was that really addiction? If it’s so easy to give something up, would it still be considered an addiction? Everything I’ve been addicted to was easy to give up: sex, drugs, alcohol, food, etc. I did insane things to get them but nothing specific or extraordinary happened to get me to stop. I woke up one day/night and decided to stop.

MissAnthrope's avatar

This is a great, thought-provoking question. I had never thought of addiction this way, but the more I read and thought about it, I felt you were on to something @Simone_De_Beauvoir.

I have what I’d call an addictive personality, as well. If something feels good, I want to keep doing it over and over again. Historically, when I try a new substance, I sort of binge on it for a short period, nothing too crazy or dangerous, but it’s that I like the emotional feeling so much that I want to keep feeling it.

Of all the various substances I’ve tried, I’ve mostly been able to keep my use in check using logic. For example, I did nitrous + pot for about a week after a friend introduced me to it. My experience was always something akin to a whole-body orgasm, like immensely physically pleasurable, but when it came down to it, it was so intense it was too much pleasure, almost painful. I’d forget about that “too pleasurable” feeling until I was in the midst of my trip, and each time I had the same thought process (“Ohhh, here we go again, why do I keep doing this, I forget it’s too much, I need to remember”). I finally was able to tell myself it was bad for me and at certain moments didn’t feel good, so I stopped. I haven’t done it since.

Ecstacy was the same way, I did it multiple times over a month or two and wow, it feels so good. I wish I could feel that ecstatic and right with the world all the time. Eventually, using it began to cause depression the day after, until I found myself stuck in a heavy, 2-week depression I couldn’t shake. That was when I told myself I needed to stop.

However, there are substances I would have a hell of a difficult time cutting out of my life completely and forever. Caffeine, sugar, marijuana, nicotine, and to some degree, alcohol. All of these have become a part of my life, my routine, and they serve a purpose of self-medication. Definitely an emotional component there. I sometimes have a problem with pot. I can stop and go long periods (a year or two) without doing it and be fine, but I always come back to it. It’s a problem because of the amotivation I experience and I get stuck at home playing video games and listening to music because I’m high, rather than staying on top of things in my life.

Lastly, I have an attachment disorder because of my childhood. It’s difficult for me to become close to people, but when I do, I can’t let go. I have definitely had the thought in 2 or 3 of my relationships that I was addicted to the person or the relationship, and it felt like a bad drug habit. Like, it hurt, it was bad, it made me unhappy, but I kept coming back for my fix anyway. I’m really sad to be leaving my therapist because we just started talking about this in our sessions.

Sorry this is so long, but as I said, it was a very thought-provoking question!

kewlguy_exABuser's avatar

@MissAnthrope I think this is a good place to talk about those feelings, in a way fluther is a therapist, and you don’t have to pay for it – isn’t that great?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

wow, to get back to such depth of answers – thank you
this is such a relevant issue to everyone, it is inescapable

rooeytoo's avatar

I have an addictive personality, and I have at one time or another been addicted to mind altering substances, food, feelings, does that cover it all?

I love doing something dangerous and living to tell the tale.

I am the person @JLeslie described above, not so much with MacDonalds but a Snickers bar is hard to resist.

I was a total disaster until I found AA and ACOA, attendance there showed me what a mess I was in and I then sought counseling.

I feel better about myself now. I am, for the most part anyhow, in control of me. I fall off the wagon (not the booze wagon, thank goodness) but the I am in control of me wagon periodically, but now I know how to get back on. I give myself the get out of your head lecture frequently and I usually listen.

But it is not, never was and never will be easy. I am always vigilant and I must always be, but one day at a time, I figure I can do it.

Violet's avatar

Addiction is a mental disease. Some people (seems like you) have no problem controlling an addictive substance. Other people (like me), can not just stop. It usually runs in the family too

Sampson's avatar

I’d say that the addictions that I fall prey to are emotional in the sense that I connect the act with how it first made me feel. The only strong physical addiction that I’ve had was to caffeine and when I decided to cut back (severely), quitting caffeine wasn’t has hard as giving up the method of which I took it into my system. IE, I had no problem not drinking coffee, but I had a really hard time giving up soda (I would drink around a 2-liter a day). I’ve recently (and finally) given up my smoking habit. I liked to smoke about once or twice a day and giving that up wasn’t hard physically but it was mentally. I still drink, though. Not as much as I used to simply for the fact that I don’t have anyone to drink with…

I suppose what it comes down to is that I’m addicted to the ritual more than anything.

CMaz's avatar

I have done my share of popping pills, getting drunk, snorting coke and smoking pot.
Never have a need or addiction with any.
Cigarettes were the only thing that had a hold on me. And, that was later in life. But I kicked that habit.

I guess my only addiction is that of life and the ladies. I need them, I want them, and I cant live without them.
Even though sometimes I want to kick them from my shoes.

Life is something I have no control over. It is what it is and it ain’t over till it is over.
The women… I am too eager to get to know, and usually they are not right..
Or should I say, not right for me.

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo it’s not only resisting the temptation, but the occupied mind. My example was with food, drug addicts also wake up thinking about where and how they can get there next fix, so it is not just the fix itself, it is keeping your mind occupied for hours related to the addiction that counts also. I had pointed out on a different thread that a lot of people do well on Weight Watchers because the food addict goes from thinking about food and eating to much, to thinking about counting carbs, etc. It occupies their mind, they can still be obsessive and compulsive about food.

As I write this I realize now that when addressing an addiction maybe you don’t just have to replace the bad behavior, like chewing gum instead of smoke, but you have to change the behavior that usually led up to taking a puff every day.

prude's avatar

wow, I can’t believe I missed this one.
I like my pills, which I haven’t been on in a while, I cheated once but for some reason it didn’t work so gave up on that, guess I have been off for a while now. not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. been sleeping as a result (I think) of being off of them. been eating tons. having a hard time dealing w/reality I guess need to do something. Still can’t remember stuff that happened from adolescence. maybe that is good? kat in the hat says I should just let it be (in not so many words)
still miss the feeling the pills gave me though.
constant smoker as well.

kevbo's avatar

Mine seems to be information and all things digital (porn, video games, internet). I’m halfway through this “double” book, and I am thinking to myself, “holy shit, this is what I’ve been dealing with since my late teens and even back as far as when I was eight.”

I think I definitely have what this book (and other books/professionals, I’m sure) describes as “addictive thinking,” which is basically bass ackwards logic rooted primarily in survival but also manifesting in the id’s demand for nothing less than fantastic gratification. At the heart of it, though, is profound shame, and in my case, I think it’s more about “medicating” to keep my head above water than it is being obsessed with getting high because regular life is too boring otherwise.

A small example… this weekend, I tore ass around the house cleaning and organizing spaces. When I got done everything was a good bit better, but I also thought to myself, “my god, how boring.” If my life is messy and disorganized, I don’t have space to think about how boring and uncreative I am these days and do the work to be otherwise.

I’m starting to think I’ve got some codependency (or whatever—intermingled addictions) going on in my relationship, and I’ve really taken a nosedive in terms of isolating myself from others. I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job over the past year snuffing out my social life, but there are,recently and thankfully, some nice social calls coming out of the woodwork.

… I almost forgot to add that my frequently poor management of my hypothyroidism is surely a significant driver in this whole equation. When I’m off my meds, I have a very difficult time processing everyday and not so everyday stuff (tasks, e.g.) I’m supposed to be a fairly smart person, so in the face of my inability to cogitate, I panic and head for something with buttons and a screen.

JLeslie's avatar

@kevbo Don’t ignore your thyroid trouble. In the psych hospital I work at if a patient is admitted they get a madatory thyroid test, because thyroid problems can make you crazy; or at minimum impulsive, lethargic, unmotivated, short tempered, hyper, difficulty sleeping, too sleepy, all sorts of shit.

kevbo's avatar

@JLeslie, tell me about it. ;-)

Actually, thanks for saying that. It’s something I know and then forget on a routine basis.

Berserker's avatar

Smoking is pretty physical to me, I’ll jones out and all if I don’t have smokes. But it’s also quite habit driven, I’ll have a cigarette even if I don’t physically feel the need to have one, other than stress. It’s lame, it’s totally maintaining a death inducing addiction just cuz I like my smokes while watching movies.

Now I have no idea if I’m an alcoholic or not, but it’s been a problem for a bit. I’ll experience this by not being able to be motivated by anything if I’m not drunk. Everything sucks, nothing is worth my effort…unless I’m drunk, or if I know I will be soon. There’s nothing physical about it, no physical “need” to drink, it’s all very emotional and hard to explain.

And since I’m not drunk I don’t really feel like elaborating. XD

It also helps me get through my studies, the constant back and forth travels in between two cities this requires, (As well as my part time job.) and, as well, sleep. I can’t sleep unless I’m drunk, but that’s just a side dish. I don’t use that as an excuse to drink, nor do I do it in public; as I say, looking forward to plastering myself and passing out on my futon is a great part of what builds this dependence…it shouldn’t be, or might sound lame to others, but seeing the health repercussions it’s having on me and the tests I keep failing to study for yet I can’t seem to care much makes it serious enough for me.

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