September 3, 2004
Addiction: Metaphor, Hyperbole or Nonsense?
Overheard on a non-fake newscast tonight:
…former President Clinton, whose addiction to fast food is well known…
One more sign of cultural schizophrenia about enjoying the simple pleasures of life, eh? The disease model: Coming soon to whatever you enjoy most!
Okay, here are the things I can think of that I've been accused of being addicted to in the last fifteen years:
The things I checked are things where I think signs of addiction could be there, meaning I can be fairly compulsive about those things. Can you sign me up for a BA?? Blogger's Anonymous?
You make a good point, Bose...I've often said that anything that's fun is either illegal, unhealthy or fodder for a support group.
04-Sep-2004 09:20 AM
Yeah, the amazing thing to me is that some of the same folks who will use "addiction" to describe a pop phenomenon will use it in the next breath to describe a medical diagnosis.
We often do the same thing with mental illness, like using "crazy" to describe being silly or goofy, but generally the professional wordsmiths in the media aren't that sloppy about it.
04-Sep-2004 12:47 PM
Addiction is hard to define. I think I know what I am addicted to, but I have no idea what others are addicted to.
Funny to see this here as I have been thinking about the dependance of the US on foriegn oil as a sort of addiction. Seeing this quote and feeling it was frivolous to link fast food to addiction is making me rethink my take on oil addiction.
07-Sep-2004 12:47 AM
In clinical terms, addiction has been defined in ways that don't seem to apply to Bill Clinton's eating patterns. In popular usage, it more often describes compelling, hard-to-shake habits.
I like Bill White's summary from the end of this page where he notes that the disease model has worked and yet it needs some work to clarify the boundaries of what addiction is and isn't.
07-Sep-2004 09:43 AM
Addiction is pretty simple to define. I heard a speaker who said he was asked to speak at an OA meeting and he accepted on the chance that his Espreince ,Strength, & Hope would help. However, when he heard a a woman share how she had eaten a whole Pepperidge Farm cake, he said to himself,"MyGod! You Pig! How could you do such a thing? Have you no slef control?"
It then dawned on him that people who are not addicted to something cannot understand addiction. Simply put if you wake up in the morning and say" I am only going to have two drinks today" You are probably addicted as normal people would NEVER have such a thought!
Food for thought! (Pun intended) ;)
08-Sep-2004 01:42 PM
Thanks for your thoughts, Particle.
As I've noted elsewhere, I have used a number of different strategies to take responsibility for when and how much I drink. It really doesn't matter to me whether other folks think I am normal (happily, I'm not!), but I can tell you that my drinking doesn't fit the maladaptive patterns used to identify substance abuse within the DSM-IV criteria.
I can't pretend to know what it's like to live with diabetes or epilepsy, but I can look up the signs and symptoms of each. And, it's reasonable to expect that talking heads in the media won't diagnose public figures as having epilepsy or diabetes without evidence of the symptoms or a direct quote from an expert.
This news person didn't do that. Maybe the reference to addiction was intended as a metaphor, not a diagnosis, but that was not made clear.
08-Sep-2004 02:39 PM
Addiction...the way it is misused these days, you would almost have to say that as humans, we are all oxygen-addicts, food-addicts, shelter-addicts and water-addicts.
08-Sep-2004 09:22 PM
Hey, young man....where are some new posts from you???
07-Dec-2004 10:19 PM
It is easy to sit in an ivory tower and attempt to discredit the disease model of treatment. It is tough to work on the front line of addictions treatment as I do.
First off the American Medical Association identifies alcoholism as a disease. The AMA recognises that alcoholism meets the 5 criteria needed to be a disease, Patterns of symptoms, chronicity, progression, subject to relapse, and treat ability.
Most recovered alcoholics talk of the phenomena of craving. Simply stated, once a drink enters their system they experience an uncontrollable craving for more.
Here is a definition of disease from the Oncology department at The University of Newcastle upon Tyne
An alteration in the state of the body or of some of its organs, interrupting or disturbing the performance of the vital functions, and causing or threatening pain and weakness; malady; affection; illness; sickness; disorder; -- applied figuratively to the mind, to the moral character and habits, to institutions, the state, etc.
For those of us who have worked on the front lines of alcoholic and drug treatment we know from real world experience, over 10 000's of times that the disease model of treatment works.
Since the inception of harm reduction into treatment DEATHS from addiction per year in Toronto shelters that deal with addiction have risen. Simply stated, harm reduction doesn't work. There are many people who have abandoned the harm reduction model because it is a colossal failure.
I understand that many people would like to move away from the AA model of treatment because they have a problem with the spiritual aspect of AA. They guise this disdain as an attack on the disease and abstinence model of treatment. It is dangerous to sit in an Ivory tower and ignore decades of research that show that an alcoholic brain reacts differently to alcohol than a non-alcoholic brain.
For the record in addition to decades in the field of addiction treatment I have a BSc in Biology, a MSc in Physiology, an MBA, and I am a certified addictions counsellor.
03-Jan-2005 02:21 AM