Tag Archives: addiction

upswinging

It’s funny, people asking me if I’m okay now that I finally feel okay.

One of my very best friends has found the love of his life. Or so he thinks. He also found Jesus. A few months ago, he found Jesus. After wanting to be a Youth Pastor when he was in college, to going to seminary, to realizing God is fucked up and church is fucked up and people in church are fucked up. Then a staunch atheist for a long long time. Then a quiet atheist. Then, Jesus.

But I haven’t seen Jesus in awhile, only his new girlfriend. Almost fiance. After a few weeks, he has bought the ring.

You’re an addict, dude. You’re addicted to something, always. To drugs, or alcohol, or me, or work, or Jesus, or her. I guess it’s not okay to say that, at least not before I’ve met her and not before he asks and not over text message.

I spend too much time thinking about loss. So many friends gone this year, but the choosing kind of gone. I know I’ve said it before. It’s just always there, the holes, and more added every day it seems like. It’s okay. I have new friends, or old friends who have stuck around, and I try to focus on them. I try to remember the holes I’ve left in other people’s lives. Try to convince myself I mattered to someone as much as these people matter to me.

I don’t even know her last name. Did she keep hers? Add his? Take his only?

She said Happy Birthday and some other kind and thoughtful things. I didn’t respond. What would I even say? What could I even want from her? And do I risk responding only to find that her message was just…a thing, and not an attempt to get me back.

I feel okay. It’s pretty cool. Of course I anticipate the upswing to keep going straight on to mania, but for now it’s awesome, and welcome.

Thanks, beach time last week! You put me on the right track.

 

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gross.

My coworker just taught me a Buddhist practice to combat what they call “attachment.” I’ve mentioned the concept of attachment before – that we mistake it often for love but it is really a poison in disguise. Attachment to anything – a person, belonging, idea, etc – overtakes our minds and often we obsess over the object of our attachment. For someone like me with clinically obsessive thoughts and a probably-clinical hatred of bodily functions….well, we’ll see how this goes.

ATTACHMENT
Definition: Exaggerated not wanting to be separated from someone or something. (Exact opposite of Aversion) Because the label of “pleasant” is very relative and based upon limited information, Attachment includes an aspect of exaggeration or “projection”.

Near “enemy” (or not to be confused with): Real appreciation, love and compassion.
Opposite: Wanting to be separated from someone or something: aversion.
Main quality: exaggeration of positive qualities, which can only lead to disappointment. Falling in love will usually fit very well in this category. (from View on Buddhism)

The practice my coworker was telling me about, in regards to attachment toward a person, consists of contemplation: sit and mediate on that thing that has such hold over your thoughts. Now think of all of the disgusting, feral aspects of that person. Imagine them without skin. See all of the sinews and blood and guts that make up their body. Think of mucus, of odor, of bowel movements and eye sockets.

I’m not kidding. This is a real practice (it came up because a patient down the hall has a disgusting hacking cough right now) and honestly, I guess I can see how it works. I’d like to know how permanent the images these meditation conjure would be….I don’t want to think of bodily fluids every time his name pops up on my phone. But then again, maybe I do, right?

Break the cycle. New associations. Turn my brain off of that thought and start the process of replacing it….I guess I can replace it with something else altogether once the initial obsession has broken. Maybe…emptiness? I don’t really have this Buddhism thing down…

HANDLING ATTACHMENT

One man can conquer a thousand times thousand men in battle,
but one who conquers himself is the greatest of conquerors.

The Dhammapada

The following antidotes can be applied throughout daily life, but are profound meditation exercises as well.

ANTIDOTE 1 – Observe Yourself: Do I exaggerate positive qualities of things I am attached to, are they really worth all my troubles? Is it really worth to work hard for days, weeks or months to have an hour of fun?

ANTIDOTE 2 – Use Your Inner Wisdom: Discover how exaggerated attachment is and how desire works against oneself. Try to be wiser than the monkey and let go of the candy to be free.

ANTIDOTE 3 – Reflect on the Unsatisfactory Nature of Existence. This is also called the First Noble Truth. How much fun is fun really, and how much is it forgetting the pain? Do desires ever stop or is it an endless job to fulfil them?

ANTIDOTE 4 – Reflect on Impermanence. How important is the person or object: everything will end someday, people die, things break.

ANTIDOTE 5 – Reflect on the Problems of Attachment. Lying in the sun is great, but it quickly leads to sunburn. Eating nice food is great, but it leads to indigestion and obesity. Driving around in big cars is great, but how long do I have to work to enjoy this?

ANTIDOTE 6 – Reflect on bodily attraction (lust for sex). Loving someone is great, but what happens when the “honeymoon-days” are over? But what is the body really? What more is it than a skin bag filled with bones, flesh, disgusting organs and fluids?

ANTIDOTE 7 – Reflect on the Results of Attachment. Greed and craving lead to stealing and all kinds of crime, including war. Addiction to alcohol and drugs are simply forms of strong craving; they destroy the addict and the surroundings. Uncontrolled lust leads to sexual abuse. The feeling of greed, craving and lust in themselves can be easily seen as forms of suffering.

ANTIDOTE 8 – Reflect on Death. What are all objects of attachment worth at “the moment of truth” or death?

ANTIDOTE 9 – Emptiness. The ultimate antidote to attachment and all other negative emotions is the realisation of emptiness.

Hmm.

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a new take on addiction and treatment.

“Addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.”

The above quote and the below passages are from The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think by Johann Hari, author of ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.’ Read the whole article, it’s worth it.

“This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find – the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding’. A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else…

…But still – surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns out there is an experiment which gives us the answer to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre’s book ‘The Cult of Pharmacology.’

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive processes around. The chemical hooks in tobacco come a drug inside it called nicotine. So when nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge surge of optimism – cigarette smokers could get all of their chemical hooks, without the other filthy (and deadly) effects of cigarette smoking. They would be freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That’s not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that’s still millions of life ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has huge implications for the one hundred year old war on drugs. This massive war – which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool – is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction – if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction – then this makes no sense.”

You can buy the book here.

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