I love the Rehab series on VH1. First it was Celebrity Rehab, then Celebrity Sex Rehab, and now it is just Rehab with non-famous people. Why do I love it? I’m sure there are plenty of reasons, but seeing the raw process people go through is sad, painful and inspiring. When celebrities were on the show, I’m sure there was a part of me which tuned in because here are these people how “have” or at least at one point “had” it all. Beautiful “soul mates”, fame, money, steady line of work, healthy looking bodies, big homes, influence, etc., but then they lost it.
I’m sure many of us “non-celebrity” people first ask, “How in the heck could you kiss that all away, just so you can get high?”. How could you be addicted to something which ruins personal and professional relationships you have, in one way or another robs you of all your money and makes you so sick you have to be admitted into a hospital for days if not weeks.
Besides filling me with more questions on how people can blow all of these advantages, the show made me look inside myself. The fact is that we all have addictions. Sure, some are not as intense as the consequences of using cocaine everyday, but many are just as destructive over time. Cocaine will help you lose all of your friends in a short amount of time… but so will out of control anger… especially over time. Cocaine will kill you pretty fast if you let it, but so will being addicted to cigarettes. Cocaine is expensive, and will have you wake up one day wondering where all of your hard earned money has gone… but so will an addiction to shopping and keeping up with the Jones.
I’m using cocaine as the baseline here, but pick any hard drug. I’m also using other “addictions” which we don’t really see as addictions because they aren’t as intense. However, anything bad “over time” can be just as devastating to your lives. I’ve never tried any kind of drug, but personally I believe that I am like most people, and have other “addictions” which over time cause massive damage as well. When writing this, I didn’t want you to get hyper paranoid wondering what you are possibly addicted to. For you, maybe it is a hard drug. Maybe it is serious gambling. Maybe it is something else we as a culture have categorized as “serious”.
However, I also want to address those other things which some may binge on at times, or see as bad, but not “that bad” because it is not as “serious” as heroine or something like that. As I take a look at my life, my less intense addictions “over time” don’t paint a great picture of myself. Small habits have sometimes turned into big ones, and little things which I shouldn’t do have at times grown into bigger things I should not be doing.
My argument is that we should be aware of these little things, because they sneak underneath our radar, and really don’t cause immediate or intense enough pain to make us pay serious attention to it. However, just as a junkie we slowly bump up our intensity level to give us a little buzz. Our lies at work get a little bit more outrageous in order to build up our fake persona. Playboy magazines get upgraded to internet porn. Gambling online makes us plan family trips to Vegas where we bet (and lose) 10% more on each visit.
To be completely honest, some, even many of these don’t get completely out of hand and develop into serious consequences. That is not say thing we are right in doing them, but it is another way we rationalize doing them in the first place. Our lies about ourselves may have no serious victims. Internet porn may not lead to an affair. Gambling cravings may be curbed by simply playing with non-monetary chips with our friends every Thursday night.
But here is my point: It only takes one.
It only takes one little habit, which goes under the radar, which we rationalize with a number of defense mechanisms, to turn into something which does have serious consequences “over time”. As I stated before, my goal is not to make you paranoid about everything you do, I just want you to have awareness. Here is the kicker, my guess is you already know about a little addiction brewing. I know you don’t call it an addiction yet, but you are already aware of a little habit or thought pattern which is growing – or has grown over time.
For others of you, it may be a full blown addiction, and for someone else it may have been an addiction at some point in your life which has receded, but you wrestle with it in certain cycles of your life. Therefore, my question is, what is yours? What is your hang up or hurt which has not been fully resolved. Is there something which keeps on nagging you just when you think you have it taken care of? Are you refusing to have an important conversation with someone out of fear? Are you fearing to address an eating habit which has had you on a roller coaster ride for decades? Do you use alcohol to sooth your pain, when stresses get out of hand at work? Do you hit or punch things or people when life or others push you too far?