It’s been almost 8 months since I posted on addiction here and in the last 24 hours, a lot of new and important stuff has come together for me.
Things that one becomes addicted to are poisonous, or become poisonous when taken excess. Nicotine, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, etc., are poisonous in any quantity. Alcohol is poisonous in large quantities. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, becomes poisonous at ridiculously large doses, which is part of why so few people really get addicted to pot.
I see a pattern here: the strength and gravity of an addiction is directly related to how poisonous the substance is.
Why would this be the case? Why would our own bodies develop addictions most strongly to those substances which are most harmful to us?
I believe that it comes down to the structure of judgment. (Since all addiction is really judgment anyway.) Judgment is a complaint that something, or someone, or some group of things or people, should not be the way they are. Judgment feeds on itself: you judge; judgment is bad, wrong, evil, sinful, whatever–which is more judgment! (Note the emphasis on “are”: a judgment assumes that the way the judge perceives things is actually the way they are, which is frequently wrong.)
When I first learned how this worked, I’d fall into this trap all the time, passing judgment on people who were passing judgment on others, then passing judgment on myself for having judged those other people, then judging myself for judging myself, and then I was off to the races! It can be a really vicious cycle! But what’s this got to do with heroin? Keep reading.
What does a doctor do if no one is sick? What do managers do when their business is running smoothly without their intervention? What does a fighter do after he’s beaten everyone? What did Elvis do when he reached the top? What do you do when who you have defined yourself to be is suddenly obsolete?
(What actually prompted this line of thought was my long-time involvement with Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. I’ve been thinking for a few weeks now that everything to do with religion is becoming toxic to me, but I have such a hard time not jumping into the conversation again, reading the latest thing that so-and-so wrote, putting my two cents in, and I realized that I don’t want to spend my whole life fighting for equality; I just want to be equal, and then I have other problems that are worth working on.)
I can’t describe to you the cravings I felt to go back to church, and even more, to the temple. I did go back to church a few times, and found it every bit as poisonous as when I’d left it before. I couldn’t stop reading the posts people would make about Mormonism, homosexuality, homosexuality and Mormonism, BYU, Zion, all of it, it just sucked me in. I actually plotted ways I could steal a temple recommend and go back. I’m glad I didn’t now. That would just be feeding the addiction.
In order to tolerate nicotine, your body has to develop a resistance to it. It resists and resists and then discovers there’s nothing to resist–but wait! We have all this infrastructure built for resisting! We have to have something to resist! Gimme another cigarette! (Imagine the hundreds of thousands of people who would suddenly be out of work if, in the United States, we suddenly went to a single-payer health care system: people who file claims, process claims, deny claims, stamp the claims denied, file them in appropriate places, answer the phones, and design and build the monumental structures needed to keep all this going! This health care system is killing us and we can’t get rid of it!)
I believe this is why countries in the Middle East are constantly descending into chaos: they spent so much time fighting the Ottoman Empire, they don’t know how to not fight anymore. They have to have an enemy!
And me! I spent so many years developing the tools and the practices to survive in the church, and it keeps gnawing around the edges waiting for something to chomp at, and without the church, it’s getting bored and looking for something else to chew on. Something else to judge. To resist. To fight. To endure. To survive.
Please tell me if this makes sense at all. I believe I’ve laid out here why, logically, all addictions begin with judgment, which might be the most important thought I’ve ever had in my entire life.
(PS – If you’re thinking that chemical addictions aren’t judgment, because chemicals can’t judge, I disagree. The chemicals in your body are incredibly complex, and have an emergent quality to them, like your brain does. I believe that, when you develop a resistance, tolerance, and dependency on a chemical that is bad for you, the emergent quality of your body’s chemistry lab is essentially saying “this should not be here,” in a language we don’t understand yet.)