Why is it, that the things we know we cannot have we desire above all else?
When you go to rehab you hear things like “you can no longer drink or use, you are allergic to drugs and alcohol”. Well that’s a nice analogy that someone dreamed up one day but it’s stupid as fuck because I do not have an allergic reaction when I have a drink or a drug. If I did, surely I wouldn’t drink or use?
Assume I’m allergic, I smoke a pipe of crack, feel great for 30 seconds then start feeling shitty. I’m going into anaphylactic shock? Nope, that’s just crack bro.
Seriously, let’s assume I do get anaphylaxis, “a life-threatening whole-body response to an allergen”. I nearly die, ambulance comes, quick trip to the hospital and Mr. Doctor tells me I’m allergic to cocaine and if I ever ingest one tiny little grain of the white powder again I’ll get the same result.
“Okay doc, thanks for the tip. Does that mean I get an epi pen? How many of them can I get and how often can I get that refilled?”
So now that I’m allergic, just like if I was allergic to peanuts, I’d go out of my way to avoid them, right? I’d let my waiter know at the restaurant… maybe I’ve got one of those hyper allergies where my worst nightmare isn’t Snakes on a Plane but rather a kid with a pack of peanuts. Logically, I let the airline know that I might die if they serve nuts on my next flight to rehab.
Before boarding check your plane for allergens, and snakes, both potentially fatal.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I can’t figure it out. I do not think a physical allergy is the same as an addiction, but I've little confidence in my verdict. I don’t have any allergies that I know of so I can’t really speak about that. Do all my peeps out there with a nut allergy spend their days dreaming about peanut butter? Do you wonder if you’d be a crunchy or a smooth person? Would it be more delicious if you smoked it or shot it? What about if you put it in a shot with some jelly? Bet that would be so fucking tasty.
A smart kid, I stick to shooting jelly. It’s a cheaper habit, its sweeter and much easier on my veins. Or do I?
People with allergies avoid allergens. But because you can’t have peanut butter, do you desire it? Or are you just curious about the taste? Do you even give a shit about nuts? Do they ever just… pop into your head? Do you actively try and not think about delicious, salty nuts in your mouth?
The clearest example of this that I think most people can relate to is cigarettes. We all know that smoking is hella cool. That’s why we do it. But we also know that it is highly likely to cause us a painful early death. And for the lads out there it turns our dicks into flaccid cigarette butts. But we smokers all think one of two things. We either think “it won’t happen to me” or “I’m planning on quitting”. Probably both.
Your penis may be smarter than it appears.
I can quite confidently say that if smoking one cigarette guaranteed terminal cancer and/or instant death, there would be no tobacco industry.
Same with drugs. At the beginning, I thought, I can control this, I can quit. On jails, institutions and death, “it won’t happen to me”. Thankfully I’ve avoided jail but I do have multiple overdoses and institutions on my record now.
I also have the intellectual capacity to understand that I cannot use just once. I don’t really want to use just once. Sometimes, I fantasise about the good ol’ days when my using was recreational, but in reality I just want to be high all day, every day, minus all of the consequences. And if I’m being honest, my using was never really recreational. It was always some kind of escape. Be it from boredom, loneliness, anxiety, whatever. I know that when I start using it is going to end in one of those three ways. Jails, institutions, death. The top secret fourth option is to get clean. But that too, ends in death eventually, so to keep it simple let’s stick with three.
Generally, it is not that first drink/drug that gets someone into rehab, behind bars or dead. It’s highly unlikely, in fact. And that’s why I think denial can become so overpowering. It is so easy for me to live with a “I’ll deal with that problem tomorrow” philosophy. You know what they say, tomorrow never comes.
And without fail, tomorrow always comes (lately, all over my face, into my eyes, eww). I’m blind, but I can feel the warmth of the sunrise shining on me in the morning and the nip in the air as it sets each evening without fail. I continue to sit on my lazy ass moaning about how boring my sober life is or running around frantically using like a maniac. I’ll rebuild my sober life tomorrow. I’ll stop using tomorrow.
The other classic line you’ve probably heard if you’ve been to a rehab is the moniker for denial. Don’t Even No I Am Lying. And as tired as I am of hearing that crap, unlike the allergy analogy and unlike any gram I've ever purchased, this one is bang on point. I know facts yet still my mind can convince me to act against reason and defy logic. My final recovery cliché for today, the definition of insanity.
And addiction is insanity. It's so dumb, I do sometimes feel like I'm just being completely retarded. Today's JFT says "Addiction is not a simple disease, but it has a simple solution". This sums it up perfectly, and explains why I feel like such a jackass for being seemingly incapable of executing this ‘simple solution’.
To wrap this all up I want to go back to the original question which was looking at addiction as an allergy. And I specifically want to reference Antabuse. Firstly, if I was allergic to alcohol I would under no circumstances take a medicine that provokes an allergic reaction upon my consumption of alcohol, I would have no need. Secondly, I know several people who have drunk on Antabuse multiple times, with catastrophic results. The allergic reaction does not stop them repeating the behaviour. Finally, in the case of the chronic alcoholic whose liver would fail simply from using Listerine, we have an example whereby one drink is highly likely to lead to death. And that doesn’t stop some people drinking.
What exactly are the symptoms of anaphylaxis? Impaired breathing, swelling in the throat, a sudden drop in blood pressure, pale skin or blue lips, fainting and dizziness.
Chuck in respiratory failure and it sounds a lot like a jelly overdose to me. Need an epi pen? Here, have naloxone.
So is addiction an allergy? I guess so. But that analogy hasn’t done anything to help me stop using. I fucking hate recovery clichés. Thing is, they’re clichés for a reason, people say them over and over again because they are true.