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The Addiction Factor, Part 2

10/01/2006 - Last month, Don Riley was a guest columnist for this column in Our Town Casper and wrote about addictions and recovery as he was kicking off a new program called Celebrate Recovery. I would like to continue to address that topic for a few more columns due to the interest in the topic, the vast number of people who are addicted, and the gravity of the effects of addiction on us as individuals, on our families, on our friends and on society in general. I will be asking Don to "tag team" with me in addressing this "addiction epidemic" in future articles.

Why is the prevalence of addictions so high? I really like the way Gerald May explains the way addiction works in his book Addiction & Grace. May indicates that the problem has two facets: repression and addiction. Repression, the "milder" of the two, has to do with holding back, avoiding, or burying our desire to love and be loved because experience would indicate that it makes us vulnerable to being hurt. He goes on to say that the progression is as follows:

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1.Repression stifles desire.

2.Addiction attaches desire, bonds and enslaves the energy of desire to certain specific behaviors, things or people.

3.These objects of attachment then become preoccupations and obsessions; they come to rule our lives.

May not only describes the progression of addiction but also has a very interesting definition of addiction: "Any compulsive, habitual behavior that limits the freedom of human desire." At first glance, this definition bothered me a little bit limiting the freedom of human desire what does that mean? It seemed to me that some individual's "human desires" need to have limits! But, going back to the explanation that the deepest human desire is related to being loved and loving others, it makes more sense. According to May, there are five essential characteristics that indicate true addiction: tolerance (always wanting or needing more in order to feel satisfied), withdrawal symptoms (stress reactions from being deprived of something that the person is used to having or rebound reactions involving symptoms that are the opposite of those caused by the addictive behavior), self-deception (denial, rationalization, displacement and every other defense mechanism imaginable), loss of willpower (the part of the will to defeat addictive behavior is overpowered by the part of the will that wants it to continue), and distortion of attention (because of the involuntary attention to the addiction, the individual cannot attend to things that are really important).

There is so much more to talk about when it comes to issues related to addiction! I want to remind you again of Celebrate Recovery it is an ongoing program that supplements other types of recovery programs and meetings in the community. It's happening every Friday night beginning at 5:30 p.m. with a dinner and fellowship time followed by a meeting that is designed to speak to the entire group, small groups, and desert afterwards. It is held at Highland Park Community Church (265-4073). In addition, this was the first year that Wyoming has participated in the National Alcohol and Addiction Recovery Month (sponsored by the State of Wyoming Department of Health). It was held September 30th at Washington Park in Casper. Unfortunately, we did not get this information in our article last month but if you would like more information regarding this event, you can access their website at recoveryrocks2006.org.

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