The Diminishing Return of Addiction

IMG_1163What do addictions have in common?  The addict is always chasing the high. One of our colleagues in the Addiction world, Chana (pronounced “Hana,” like the road to Hana, Hawaii) Carro is a licensed independent Substance Abuse Counselor, with over 24 years’ experience.  She calls it “euphoric recall.”  A person has pain, distress or dis-ease.  He engages with a substance or a behavior.  That engagement produces a desired result, sometimes intentionally, sometimes quite unintentionally.  The result is perceived as desirable.  There’s an inclination to want to repeat it.  “It worked.  Great!  Let’s repeat it.”

As Chana explains, “The problem with addiction is diminishing return, so at the very beginning, it works.  You don’t feel so sexy on the dance floor.  You’re too scared to dance.  You take a hit of marijuana.  Take a drink.  Take some coke.  You’ll feel like the life of the party.  Over time, however, there’s a propensity for tolerance, and so the person needs more and more to get the same result.  What are people chasing when they come to us in desperation? They say, ‘It doesn’t even work anymore and I can’t stop.’  What are they really saying?   They are really saying not only have they physiologically engaged their body now so there are all those elements involved, but they can’t forget the beauty of that initial encounter.  They can’t forget that initial way in which their needs were met, that honeymoon, and they’re chasing it sometimes for years.”  We know from our experience in Addiction Medicine that they are chasing the wrong honeymoon.   They should have been getting it from their spiritual connection from the beginning.

The honeymoon with your higher power, when it’s a spiritual way, doesn’t have diminishing return.  It gets better, deeper, more enriching, and more satisfying over time.  An addictive substance can never continue to provide you with what you were looking for.  As Chana describes, “It’s like being really hungry and eating Styrofoam.  No matter how much Styrofoam you eat…”  The addict may think, “If I just drop enough acid…”  Of course, any effect dissipates over time and then they need MORE.  Next, we’ll share information on the relationship between addiction and mental illness.

Louise Barksdale


Posted in: Alcoholism, From the Doctors

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