I see people who don’t drink until 18h because that is the social Law, a norm that they believe in but they sit clock watching until the minute hands brushes the hour. Then they pour drinks at a rate that is scarcely believable. I see others who condone the over indulgence in alcohol yet who feel that it’s a ‘waste’ to leave a bottle of wine unfinished. I see others who ‘have’ to have a glass of wine after a bad day at work or looking after the children, it helps them unwind you see. Then have that drink every evening, every day. I see others who feel that it’s not a good time unless there’s a drink involved. Or more than one. I see the tea drinkers too.
The subject of ‘addiction’ is a fascinating one to explore. Addiction still shelters under the wing of the taboo, it’s not something people are comfortable discussing in open terms, it needs euphemisms. Addiction sounds too much like ruined lives for comfort, in the stereotypes of the mind addiction is what got the dingy clothed homeless clutching paper bags under the bridge to where they are now. Addiction is a painful journey, especially for the onlookers, to ruin.
However, we often have very limited perceptions of what this includes, for example we’d probably all include alcohol, smoking, drugs and gambling in that definition. However, binge-drinking is (unfortunately) a leisure activity which seems to be increasingly popular and ‘normal’, smoking despite the rise of anti legislation and generations of education is again still a perfectly ‘normal’ and acceptable behaviour and people faithfully fill out lottery tickets each week, pinning their hopes on Chance or Luck. It seems that our attitude to even such obvious mores is ambivalent after all.
Outside of such apparently obvious vices, our attitude to addiction is even greyer. We probably wouldn’t identify them as such, especially not in ourselves. But what is the motivation and reasoning behind the person who cannot face the day without their morning cuppa? An innocent pleasure naturally but it is the reasoning and motivations that decide whether it has become the trap of addiction. Can you survive without it or do you think that the world will come tumbling down around you without it? This person will then go on to have another cuppa at 10 on the dot, there are all sorts of Laws governing the ritual which must be strictly obeyed. It’s easy to laugh but it’s worth thinking about.
Addiction and compulsion are very similar, we laugh and mock despite the fashionable turn that OCD has taken of late. In ‘normal’ life, we all follow routines to the letter, routine allows us to survive the day in the most efficient and comfortable manner. But it can go too far. Everything can. They are both traps, made by mental processes, where certain conditions must be met or failure/end-of-the-world will be the result. Neither addiction nor compulsion have to be forbidden things, the Vices. Turning the taps off is a good thing. Drinking tea is a good thing. But we have to be careful not to go too far, not to get too dependent. Some people, I believe, will always have a disposition to fall into these traps. I am probably one of them. I am careful with myself, my routines, my motivations, my reasoning.
Addiction isn’t only for Addicts after all.