Rob's Soapbox Archives

August 30th, 2010


We recently had an in-depth discussion on the show trying to find the true definition of addiction; here’s what I have decided on:

An addiction occurs when you become powerless over something that controls  your life to the point where if you continued to engage in the addiction it would eventually kill you…and, the thing you’re addicted to can’t be stupid.

Thus, there is no such thing as an addiction to sex, shopping, love, gambling, hoarding, adrenaline or fatty food. All of those are stupid; or put more succinctly, they are mental disorders caused by having a weak mind. The “D” in OCD is “disorder.” The “C” stands for “compulsive.” Behaviors that involve no foreign chemical alteration of the brain are nothing more than compulsions. Sex, stealing, fighting, gambling, taking risks are all compulsions; when you become unable to control your own compulsions, you are not an addict, you are a mental weakling and it’s high time this society owned up to that fact and stopped coddling the weak by legitimizing their very treatable and fixable struggles through some politically correct attempt to give everything a sympathetic name and label. You’re not addicted to chocolate, you’re a dumbass.

Before those of you who have found yourselves battling chemical addictions claim victory and cheer my conclusion, allow me to dispel your misconceptions.

Alcoholics, those addicted to pain killers, habitual smokers, huffers, and drug addicts are also mental weaklings. They just also happen to have a chemical dependency as well. Arguing over who is better, the addicted or the mentally disordered, seems to me like arguing over whether or not the Nazis were more compassionate than the Roman Empire.

Even in the most extreme, rare, example mental weakness is still the answer; someone who has never used a mind altering substance of any kind to escape his reality who suddenly finds himself in the hospital recovering from a near-death car accident and also finds himself chemically addicted to painkillers is not only a one-in-a-million example, but is also at the crossroads of mental weakness. If he truly loves his reality, his life and his ability to deal with both, he will also find within him the mental strength to get off of the pills. It will be hard and physically painful, but plenty of people do it by relying on their mental toughness, remembering that all things worth having in life and all things that matter, are in fact, hard. Those who don’t are weak; period, deal with it America.

The more common scenario is also the one that further proves my point.

Most of us discover or seek out chemical vices for one simple reason; we want to escape reality. We either want to feel a high we can’t feel on our own, or create a sense of being numb to the point where we don’t feel anything at all. The buzz from drinking, the euphoria from opiates and the total obliteration of reality from inhalants are all, unarguably, a means to an end; “take me away from what I am feeling right now!”

Occasionally escaping reality is not only healthy, it’s necessary. It’s nothing more than an advanced version of walking away from a problem to allow your mind time to clear, only to discover the crystal clear answer to the very same problem when you confront it again later. Vices allow us that perspective; that break, that release. No doubt in some cases, they also allow us to run away from our problems as well; but as long as the retreat is temporary and ultimately doesn’t change the positive resolution of said problem, where is the harm?

This is why millions of Americans drink without becoming alcoholics, and this further proves why everyone from compulsive shoppers to fall down drunks are nothing more than weak minded. Sorry about it.

Once we all discover alcohol, nicotine and the like we also all discover that if you engage in the behavior often enough, you build up a tolerance to it; and then, if you want to reach your same level of “high,” you need to consume more of your favorite chemical. This is where the mental weakness comes in; if you are so badly needing to escape reality and run away from your fears to the point where you are willing to smoke two packs of cigarettes every day to constantly and consistently numb the pain of your life, you are a mental weakling unable and unwilling to deal with reality. Yes, your body is chemically addicted to nicotine, but your weak brain is addicted to running away, and the last time I checked, running away was the tell-tale sign of a coward, aka, a weakling.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, a psychologist or even a radio DJ to understand human behavior, it takes an honest human; in all cases people engage in compulsive behaviors for one of two reasons; escape and/or control.

- The adrenaline junkie feels a rush he can’t get anywhere else by risking death; he escapes his otherwise “boring” life by engaging in dangerous behaviors, rather than challenging his mind to create an equally rewarding rush by becoming a better father, husband or employee.

- The compulsive shopper does so because it’s the one thing in her life she can control; the rest of everything around her is spiraling at a rate she can’t even comprehend, let alone intervene in so she escapes to the sanctity of her favorite mall and executes the one thing in life she is in complete control of, rather than insisting that she take control of her pathetic life.

- The alcoholic drinks to escape reality and then falls in love with the feeling he gets when he’s drinking, realizing he’ll need more and more alcohol to maintain that feeling more and more often. Rather than insisting that such feelings must be occasional rewards throughout a hard earned life, the weak minded alcoholic deems it better to live a phony life of numbed emotions and escapes from reality at all times possible. Yes, his body eventually needs the foreign chemicals, but it’s his mind that remains the problem.

No one likes to have their shortcomings pointed out to them; even fewer of us crave the challenge that comes with trying to fix them. Neither of those truths change facts; people who engage in behaviors to the point of either self-destruction or altered realities are losing the battle in life because of their weaknesses. Perhaps it is true that calling them “weak” is not helpful or motivating, but it is also true that pretending they aren’t is devastatingly unhelpful.

By telling addicts that they are powerless over a substance or a behavior, we are engaging in loser talk. My best friend Arnie has proven for almost 14 consecutive years that he is not powerless over alcohol. He’s a grown man with a car and a wallet and access to liquor around every corner, yet he has exercised his strength and free will for more than 5,000 days in a row not to weakly give into his compulsion. While Arnie himself  has often said he was/is “powerless over alcohol” I have never bought it and still don’t, because he has proven otherwise; all of us possess the inner strength and ability to overcome what we choose to conquer. Telling people otherwise is as pathetic as hoarding newspapers to escape reality.

So enough with the labels, the names, and the arguments over whether or not addicts are better than the mentally disordered; let’s go back to reality (an admittedly hard thing for those trying to escape it to do) and call things what they are: An addiction to shopping is stupid, an addiction to drugs is stupid with a chemical dependency thrown in. The new-age excuse of “no one chooses to be an addict,” is pathetic beyond words; we all choose our own outcomes. Life is a series of choices and consequences and your outcome as an addict is 100% your fault and yes, you did choose it. Arguing otherwise further proves what a mental weakling you are.