Friday, February 17, 2012

A Clear and Accurate Description of Addiction

I am reading a gripping book called An Anatomy of Addiction by Howard Markel.  The book is a dual biography detailing the extraordinary lives, and yet crippling cocaine addictions, of William Halsted and Sigmund Freud.

Coincidentally, I find myself reading this work around the one year anniversary of my own sobriety, albeit from an addiction not pertaining to substance abuse.  I found the following paragraphs extremely well-written and enlightening to those who have not battled addiction or been close to someone who has.
"...one of the great conundrums (puzzles or riddles) of addiction: many addicts learn to hide the truth of their malady (disease; disorder) from those around them while actively pursuing the drug of their choice. 
....As a physician who has long treated substance-abusing patients, I have learned all too well that addiction is one of the most recalcitrant (hard to manage; resisting control) diseases know to humankind.  "Cunning, baffling, and powerful" is how the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous describe it.  These three simple words carry a great deal of weight for anyone who has suffered from it or who cares for an addict or alcoholic.  One of the most maddening features is the malady's stealthy ability to convince the sufferer and his family that nothing, nothing at all, is askew or dangerous about something that most decidedly is.   
Indeed, if you were going to design addiction as a disease, one that conspires within the brain for long periods before eventually killing that person off and proceeding on to the next vulnerable victim, you would be hard-pressed to come up with a more diabolical symptom than denial, the need to lead a double life; the subject feeds the addiction in private while struggling to starve, or at least conceal, it in public.  Until, that is, the addiction completely takes over, with disastrous results, and public masquerade is no longer possible."
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