Ends Up We're In The Same Boat - Lessons In Judging A Heroin Addict…

The crinkle of the brown paper bag makes just enough noise for “that person” to look down in shame as you inwardly think to yourself, “why is he wasting his life away drinking?”

The newspaper crashes down on the coffee table as your voice hurls insults to “those people” who have slipped into becoming heroin addicts.

You crush the spirit of empathy like a smashed pill towards those who have silently slipped into any form of substance abuse.

Those people that are drunk, high and choosing ruin their life.

That lady on the street, that guy who ended up in the hospital...

And you think “They have so much going for them.  Why don’t they see they’re wasting their life away?  Why can’t they just get it together?”  

Newsflash: Even you have had moments of wasting your life–moments of not “getting it together” like you think someone else should.

Moments of mindlessness like…

Reaching for a cigarette

Ordering dessert even though they’re feeling full

Picking up a six-pack at the drive thru instead of going to their AA meeting

Calling QVC even though you’re short on the bills this month

Answering your dealer’s phone call and being sucked in from there

Digging the needle out of the trash

Digging the leftover cheesecake out of the trash

Drunk dialing a certain friend with benefits

Filling up that 36 ounce fountain diet soda

Going all or nothing on horse #3 with the last $20 in your pocket

Picking a pill out of your kid’s ADHD supply

Starting with the “Mommy needs a glass of wine” too early in the day  


You see, I see addiction quite differently than I used to.  

We could debate the various definitions and models of addiction–behavioural, disease-based, societal/cultural, moral.  

We could also debate psychological addiction vs. physical addiction and if one is “worse” than another or harder to get over than another.  Some would even debate if one is more “real” or even excusable.

I will stay away from most of that, but would it surprise you that studies show that sugar is more addictive than cocaine?  They both affect the same reward/addiction center of the brain on a biochemical level.  That blurs the lines a little doesn’t it?  

To be on the same page, let’s define addiction as “continued use of a substance or participation in an activity despite negative consequences.

It’s a very functional definition, separate from the biochemical activity in addiction, but boy does it blow up the applications.  

The substance or activity could be anything, really.  

The negative consequences are quite varied–finances, pain or other health risks, relationships, productivity, self-esteem, energy--I could go on.

Have you ever continued to use a substance or participate in an activity despite negative consequences?

Do you drink coffee even though it gives your heartburn?

Do you buy that new purse even though you’re trying to save money?

Do you supersize that combo meal even though you’re 30 pounds overweight?

Do you skip the gym even though you have high blood pressure that needs better control?

Do you cheat on your spouse even though you feel guilty?

Do you smoke even though you have to use an inhaler to breathe properly?

Do you lose money at the casino and then feel like a failure?

Do you stay late at work or check work email all the time to avoid tasks or people?

Do you have a few drinks after work even though it makes you tired and bloated?


So I challenge you…

Understand that addiction comes in many forms–and “his” heroin addiction is just as hard to overcome as your dependency on diet coke (or fill in the blank with your “thing”).

I invite you to not bring judgement so quickly towards those who are addicted, because in many ways we all are.

It’s insight we need–not insults.

Isn’t it time to set judgment aside and realize we’re all in this together?

Cheers To Your Day!
-Dr. Paige