The Perils of Addiction

In a nutshell, an addict is considered to be someone who is addicted to something. What is an addiction? Essentially, it is an inability to stop partaking in an activity or consuming a chemical, drug or substance knowing it has a detrimental effect on a person/family's well-being, according to Medical News Today.


Yes, it is true that many people, when thinking of an addict, think mostly of people who have substance abuse disorders or gambling problems. However, a person who needs to smoke every day - despite the warnings on a cigarette package - is an addict. The same is true for a person who needs alcohol each day, even if suffering from kidney or liver damage and asked to refrain. The person who keeps getting into trouble with the law and being sentenced to jail may not be addicted to any one particular crime but still seems to be addicted to bringing trouble onto him/herself.


Let's move down the list. The two cups of coffee a person buys each day, just so he/she can get through another day, doesn't seem like such an issue, when isolated. However, if that person is from a low income family, the money spent on those cups of coffee each week could add up to an extra meal or two, or a pair of sneakers for a child, or a little more gas in the vehicle.


I'll make it personal for a few minutes: I like a certain kind of soda but, preferrably, in a can. I remember when I would drink three cans a day, sometimes more. One day, it was stormy and I didn't get outside to buy any. The following day was stormy, too. By the second day, I had a headache. By the third day, I felt like I was in a funk. For the first time, it didn't seem like I had anything to live for, and it felt so foreign. Part of it could have been related to being shut inside for a few days, but ...


Impulsively, I decided to go to a restaurant. I ordered a can of soda with my meal - and I couldn't believe the transformation in the way I felt. Within seconds, I had an abundance of energy and the zest for life that I was used to having was back in full force. Yay! I felt like me again.


Still, the experience opened my eyes; it also scared me. In that moment, I realized I had become addicted to something in that particular soda. It wasn't caffeine because coffee or another caffeinated soda didn't provide the same effect. It was at that time when I began to pay more attention to how much sugar I was consuming, as well.


That being said, I remember one time wanting a can of this soda so badly that I was starting to taste it in my imagination. I started feeling as though I was becoming feverish, craving it. That scared me more than anything. I knew a change was in order and it was only me who could make that change. I was determined not to let a can of soda have such power over me.


Yes, I am still guilty of having more than one, especially during vacations, but I try my best to limit myself to one on an average day. Now, though, I drink it purely for pleasure - not because my body craves it. It no longer affects my moods and, if I happen to go two or three days without one, I don't suffer any adverse reactions. I have beaten my addiction but I know it could come back if I'm not careful.


Now, imagine that can of soda was a slot machine - or a cigarette, a joint, or a needle full of heroin. What if I was a shopaholic? What if I wanted to travel to exotic places and put all of the charges on a credit card because I knew I couldn't afford it otherwise? I can visualize the negative potential such habits would have on my life, how it could spiral out of control. I can imagine the devastating effects it would have on me, on my family and friends, how it could even impact my job performance, thus job security. It's quite scary even to imagine.

The Importance of A Budget

Furthermore, I have three kids (two grown) and three grandkids. Each year we spend time together during vacation periods. Trying to instill upon my grandkids the importance of budgeting, my oldest granddaughter (then 5, pictured above) wanted to do something. We had already enjoyed some activities so we had a brief discussion about whether we should do what she wanted. Essentially, I told her if I spent all of my vacation money in a few days, we wouldn't have anything left for later. Ultimately, she said, "We don't need to do it, Grandma. I don't want to be poor." 


I laughed. I remember telling her mother, "I'm not sure how she acquaints my having money to her being rich," but the end result was effective. She realized the importance of having a budget, a balance of activities that had a cost to them, and others that were free or much less expensive.


Now, imagine I had to go to her and tell her I had become really poor, that I had lost my job, my home, because of an addiction. Imagine she was talking to me and all I could do was shake from craving a substance so badly I couldn't focus on what she was saying. I have tears in my eyes imagining how devastated she would feel so I know, even on my most difficult days, there is one path I could never travel and that is a path that would destroy my family's faith and trust in me. 


I don't even want to think of my kids or grandkids becoming addicted to activities or substances which can have a detrimental effect on their minds, bodies - indeed, their lives. No, I can't even begin to write about how that would make me feel.


Addictions are not something I think of often but ever since reading Granville Street by Louis Lamoureux last week, the subject never strays far from my mind. If you are suffering from any type of addiction, it is my hope and prayer that you seek help before your addiction destroys you and/or your family.