Afternoon InquisitionSkepticism

AI: The Addiction Flaw?

Drug addicts and their non-addicted siblings share certain features in the brain, suggesting a susceptibility to addiction is inherited but is also a flaw that can be overcome, scientists said on Thursday.

“If we could get a handle on what makes unaffected relatives of addicts so resilient we might be able to prevent a lot of addiction from taking hold,” said Paul Keedwell a consultant psychiatrist at Britain’s Cardiff University.

So let’s get all up in your business . . .

Do you think you’re susceptible to addiction? Are any of your family members? What are you/could you be addicted to? If some people with the “addiction flaw” can overcome it (apparently relatively easily), should addiction be treated as a disease? Is that just a function of the language? Where did I leave my keys?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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43 Comments

  1. My dad, grandfather and brother were all alcoholics. My mother was a bingo (gambling) addict. Lots of smokers in the family. But my sister and I are not addicted to anything (as near as I can tell) except possibly caffeine, and that’s more her than me. I assumed it was because we each represented the necessary “stable” element in the family in our generation (my sister and I are 20 years in the difference). Could be a brain chemistry thing. I will say that I smoked a cigarette ONCE in my life and for six months after I got cravings.

  2. My family anecdotes are similar to others. I have many family members who are addicts (recovering and practicing). Most were drinkers. I was fortunate enough to see that potential in myself so I never tried smoking or drinking, but I know I’m a snack-food addict.

    I would say that addiction is inherited, but at a grander scale than the family. It is VERY easy for any animal (or plant?) to get addicted to almost any chemical substance. So we all have the potential, just some of us, and our families, fall on the “more susceptible” part of the bell curve.

  3. My family has a history of addiction, especially alcoholism. My mom actually almost died from a drug overdose (mostly pills) about 5 or 6 years ago. And my identical twin sister has had her own problems with meth.

    But me? Meh. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve done plenty of recreational drugs, including coke (twice, years ago, and it just made me sick), and even recently I did mushrooms. But over all, I just don’t like being fucked up over a long period of time. Moderation is key and I’m really, really good at knowing my limits (I haven’t been “too fucked up” in almost 8 years, and that was alcohol). Also, I refuse to even touch meth or heroin. Pot and good beer are my go-tos when I need to relax, and very rarely I’ll dabble in mushrooms, and even more rarely I’ve even done pure MDMA (I know a lot of geeks with some amazing connections). Yet I’ve never even gotten near to a problem with addiction, while both of my sisters can’t dabble in anything without latching on completely. My younger sister went to rehab for alcoholism when she was 19! I rarely drink more than a couple beers a week, and some weeks I don’t drink at all.

    I do smoke a lot of pot if I happen to have it around, but if I don’t it’s not big deal. It’s just one of those, “Oh! I have it! Cool!” But I’m poor now, so I don’t have any, lol.

    I am most certainly addicted to chapstick, however!

    1. Man I sound like a druggie, haha! Truly, I am sober 99 of my life, but occasional weekends I like to let lose and have a bit of fun, and I’ve gotten really good at understanding my body and its limits. I got way, way, way too drunk a few times in my very early 20s, and it was awful, so I really try to limit myself even when I do indulge in whatever it might be.

      1. //Pot and good beer are my go-tos when I need to relax//

        Hells ya! Spliff and an IPA goes down good. But as you say only at the right times – that way when you do it, it’s goooooooood.

        I agree also that it sucks to be fucked up all the time. I used to be a daily stoner, and I just got sick of living in a daze, so I cut it down to a few times a year.

        1. Oh I love a good IPA. :)

          I’d smoke nightly if I could afford it, because it’s one of the few things that helps me sleep without making me feel like shit. (I canNOT handle drowsy cold meds or OTC sleep meds and I haven’t even taken drowsy cold meds in something like 6 years because they cause atrocious night terrors.) Alas, I’m poor, so it’s insomnia for me. :P

  4. I’m addicted to food, but I don’t think it’s because of addictive tendencies but rather a result of my depression. That said, I’m wondering if depression produces the same brain features that make others susceptible to addiction.

  5. It is interesting that the first responders are non-addicts or addicted to food or emollients. Where are all the real addicts?

    My guess is that it is hard to admit to addiction in a comment here because we are a fairly small group. After reading and commenting for a couple of years, I feel like I know many of you guys. Many of us know each other in meatspace.

    But to answer the questions: yes, yes, alcohol, don’t know, good luck!

  6. My grandparents on both sides were alcoholics but my parents and siblings managed to avoid it. We thought for many years that there must be a family predisposition, so we all rarely drank, but when I went through college, I experimented and found basically no addictive tendencies to anything I consumed (which was a pretty wide variety of things, both legal and illicit).

    It was a puzzle for me for a long time. Then I ended up in the hospital a couple years back with anxiety disorder. The crisis counselor I spoke to immediately asked if there was a history of alcohol abuse in my family. He explained that in years past when we couldn’t medicate for anxiety and depression, people often self-medicated with a martini or 6. So I have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, which might have led to addiction in an earlier era.

    Maybe in another decade we’ll have effective long-term drugs or other treatments for addiction (or the cause of addictions), the same way we do now for anxiety and depression. If the aim is to treat, we should consider this a disease, just like we would any other mental disorder. I wouldn’t expect someone to “tough out” depression, why would that be different for addiction?

    1. Interesting point. I’ve often thought it’s very likely that my father suffered from depression. He was in the second world war at the age of 17, cut loose in hell with grog rations. With those kind of circumstances, yeah, alcoholism is kind of natural fallout.

  7. My mother (bless her demented socks) appears to be addicted to setting stuff on fire- plastic coverings for smokes. carpet, rubbish, dog poo, you name it, she’s set fire to it, I’m actually surprised she hasn’t burned the house down, but then I haven’t been on speaking terms with her for a number of years, so maybe she has? My little brother also had (has? again, not on speaking terms) a tendency toward addiction. Me? Not so much. I think the closest I’ve come is sometimes having an unhealthy relationship to food (I was vanity bulimic as a teen, and now I sometimes deliberately overeat/binge).

  8. I’m an alcoholic whose whole family has wrestled with drinking. Father, brothers, a grandfather, a great-grandfather and his sons…

    I’ve been dry for a while now, but it’s still hard; I wish there were a cure.

  9. 1 Probably
    2 Auntie a gambling addict
    3 Nicotine
    4 Yes
    5 No
    6 In the pocket of your other pair of jeans

    I thought I was an alcoholic until a few years back when some quack suggested I might have cirrhosis of the liver and I gave up the booze entirely for 6 months.

    Strangely, I didn’t miss alcohol at all. I drank bucketloads of Coke while the others drank beer and joined in the fun and high spirits with a glucose/caffeine high, and I went to the dunny just as often as the others.

    But NO HANGOVER!!! Yay!

    Since then have become a very moderate drinker. Don’t need it! Oh and nowhere near cirrhosis either.

    1. I think sometimes, with alcohol, it’s easy to get caught up, especially in the social aspect of it. More of a habit, or a thing you’re expected to do, rather than a true addiction. A lot of college-age kids go through this sort of thing, and grow out of it.

      1. You are dead right, Marilove.

        I was kind of hoping that telling that little story might give others a bit of hope.

        It’s a viscious cycle cos alcohol causes depression so:

        stress -> drinking -> less ability to cope -> more problems -> stress^^ + depression^^

        Not to minimise the problem of true addiction though.

        1. Because there’s the other side of it, where I -do- have an addiction to alcohol, and spent my twenties thinking I was normal and would “grow out of it”. I’m still at least in partial denial about the problem, because even when I was drinking (sober for 4 months now) I was usually holding down a job, paying rent, maintaining social relationships…but at the same time I was drinking every other day, mostly alone, lying about how much I drank to friends, and could not go longer than a couple of days before I craved a drink.

          I know that it is not YOUR fault, but I have a deep resentment for all the “normal” people who can just stop drinking, just like that. There’s a part of me that wants to be drunk All. The. Time.

          Like, if I had no responsibilities and infinite money, I would spend my days drinking until I pass out, only to wake up and drink again. There are times in my life where I have dreamed about living that “lifestyle”.

          1. Addiction is such a complicated issue. And alcohol is SO engrained in our society as something that people just do (and you’re considered weird if you don’t drink, even if you aren’t an alcoholic), and that just makes it even worse.

            A thousand hugs to you.

            The fact that you know you have a problem is a really, really, really amazing thing.

  10. I think I am extremely predisposed to NOT get addicted to substances. In college I would drink and occasionally get high, but it took suprisingly little substance to get me very sick. And once sick, I wouldn’t want to imbibe for weeks afterward. As a grown up I decided that pot only made me paranoid, and beer and wine only make my stomach feel like it wants to explode.

  11. My grandfather was an alcoholic. Both of my parents were heavy smokers until I was about 5 (though after I was around they no longer smoked inside). My father, like many people, is addicted to caffeine.

    I have been able to enjoy alcohol and smoking in moderation but have never become an addict. I can drink tons of coffee every day for weeks and then stop with no ill effects. (A fact I discovered while I was working in a coffee shop and had access to all the coffee and espresso I could possibly want for free.)

    I do, however, have problems with video games and internet time. I’m able to control it, for the most part, but it is a struggle to keep under control. Perhaps some of us are more easily addicted to some things and not others. Perhaps my brain has been wired just a little bit differently having grown up in this technological age so that technology is my comfort and not substance? I don’t know.

  12. Not much different from the others here.
    Yes I believe I am susceptible.
    Several uncles/aunts have gone to rehab. My godfather is currently killing himself with his drinking and my own father could best be described as a very high functioning alcoholic (I’m hoping watching what his brother is going through will make him think about himself some more). Grandmother was a heavy smoker and died of lung cancer, smoked until the day she passed and her husband (grandfather) still is smoking despite his wife’s death and multiple strokes of his own. My aunt who he lives with continues to smoke as well despite seeing what it did to her mother and father and knowing that it harms her children who have allergies/mild asthma. So yea family def has a problem.

    The trick in my family seems to be marrying into more diverse backgrounds (my cousins who’s parents share similar ethnic backgrounds struggled a lot more with drinking problems than my family who is a bit more ethnically diverse).

    It’s also in understanding moderation and finding alternative outlets for your emotions. The other big thing is understanding that enjoying yourself/pleasure doesn’t trump every other need. I know my dad’s generation was raised on the idea that life sucks and you labor really hard so you deserve to get wasted when you want to. I recently was told a story by my mom about a family wedding with great quantities of alcohol and coke where one friend died on the dance floor from a heart attack. They proceeded to lock themselves in the hall for the entire weekend and do more coke and drink to “celebrate” the guy’s death. F’d up.

    I was treated for mild depression and moderate anxiety two years ago and after the drugs and therapy I’ve found that I view my relationship to drinking differently now. I was never a heavy drinker but even with that my motivation to drink has really capped out at a glass or two at most.

    I think addiction is two fold and you can’t treat just the physical cause/symptoms of it. In order to really deal with it you need to also fix the social issues which are spawning and reinforcing it. Often if the mentality doesn’t change you’ll see things like relapse happen. However, if we can start identifying physical predilection then we can also start helping people build healthy mental states that prevent it from triggering the disease in the first place.

    I would also check your other pants or jacket.

  13. I have had to take quite a number of drugs that are potentially habit forming as part of treatments for one illness/disability or another. I am not “strong willed” in some areas of my life – I have severe depression & face the same “unable to get out of bed” days as some other people.

    but with drugs I can just stop taking them. Treatment done? I stop. That’s it. Sometimes I’ve even faced literally crippling physical dependence. I felt horribly ill & couldn’t get off the couch.

    I didn’t feel any desire for another pill. So I’ve always known that “just choose” not to take drugs was BS. I don’t have anything that I need my will to overcome. There’s no call to which I have to shut my ears. I’m just done. That’s it.

    I can’t “choose” not to be addicted because there’s nothing I can do that will make me addicted. And, frankly, I am amazingly glad about that b/c there’s been more than one tough spot in my life & if I was someone whose brain gets addicted, I’m sure I would have been. But it just never happened to me. I drank a ton for about 6 weeks in college…and then stopped. I had less freetime & didn’t particularly like the guy I was hanging out with (anymore, I mean) so I wasn’t going to the same parties (although I could have, just with other people, but no one there was compelling). And with no one handing me free alcohol or even asking me to chip in & then having an open bar, I just didn’t go out to get any alcohol on my own.

    I could have developed a pattern, but it just didn’t take hold. On the other hand, when depression hits, hiding under the bed, while it feels absolutely necessary, may actually make it more likely that the next day I hide under the bed the whole day as well. It’s also possible that both are just caused by the same thing, but really there are studies that breaking isolation helps end an episode, even if breaking isolation is incredibly tough.

    So I can be “addicted” to certain thoughts and patterns, but not at all to chemicals.

    And I’m damn lucky for it. Adding addiction to depression? I wouldn’t wanna go there.

  14. I think that there is an important distinction in the case of addiction that needs to be made: psychological vs. physical dependency. Physical dependency is often made out to be the greater of the two evils in discussions of substance misuse, but I’d argue that psychological dependency is much worse and comes at a higher social cost. After all, a diabetic is physically dependent on insulin, and many prescribed anti-depressents and anti-anxiety medications also cause physical dependence. To wit, a story:

    There is quite a lot of alcoholism on the paternal side of my family, and I’m convinced it stems from low levels of dopamine that are an unfortunate part of our genetic heritage. I will be honest here and say that I myself was in serious danger of becoming an alcoholic until I discovered opiates, which actually improved my quality of life a great deal and more or less killed my desire to drink.

    I won’t say it’s entirely without a downside (like, say, the physical dependency that results), but I do think that we have overly and unfairly demonized the medical and recreational use of opium and its derivatives in Western culture. It’s obviously not the solution for everyone, but there’s nothing that gets me more angry than cannabis activists who try to justify their cause in a politically expedient way by demonizing other drugs because they produce a physical dependency in a way that pot does not.

    I think, though, that my brain chemistry might be a bit unusual, since pot makes me gut-wrenchingly nauseous and I was able to smoke for several years without ever being addicted to nicotine.

    Tl;dr, discourse about addiction really can’t grasp the subtleties of individuals’ lives and their relationships to individual substances.

  15. My family is full of alcoholics and smokers. However, the majority of my family would count as “in poverty”, so I’ve always assumed that the correlation was socio-economic rather than genetic. I’ve been a smoker, and am not an alcoholic (yet). The only family member I know of that used ‘hard’ drugs was my father (now clean).

  16. Well I used to do some hard drugs in my youth (daily stoner, occasional coke, hallucinogens), but I never got addicted.

    Most of my family are upper middle class though, so perhaps it was simply a matter of socialization.

    Most people I did them with were poor and they didn’t see any life outside their hood, so I think getting high all the time and working shit jobs was just what they expected their lives to be. I viewed my hard-drug use as just kind of a phase that would end when I went to college, and indeed it did.

    In short, I think most theories of people having born predispositions for addiction are bullshit. Poverty & Hopelessness and/or the way someone is socialized has a lot more to do with addiction than anything else.

    1. I have been quite, quite hopeless. In fact, most of my childhood I felt hopeless. For years & years at a time I was sure that my life was a curse & I didn’t want to experience it. Some of that time I actively was trying to end it. A lot of that time I was just trying to avoid feeling/experiencing it b/c I couldn’t couldn’t couldn’t do actual violence like shoot a gun, even if it was only at myself, and the other methods I had tried took too long and ended up being interrupted. So I felt part of my curse was not just that life was hell but that I couldn’t escape that hell.

      And in the middle of that, I was offered drugs lots of times. I turned down most of them because I was afraid that they would just make things worse (I’d heard addiction was terrible)…but alcohol? Yeah. I tried alcohol. I even got drunk. I got drunk for the first time in middle school.

      And yet, I didn’t get to the point that I reached for another drink because i had an urge for a drink. Every time I had a drink, there was a reason other than just, “I want a drink.”

      I never – not once – just had an urge to take a drink. Then later with medicines, I’ve been physically dependent. I got trapped in an ice storm & my meds ran out & I didn’t have them replaced for 6 days. My body shook, I spent some time unable to sleep then long periods as tired as I’ve ever been in my life.

      At no time did I think, “Oh goddess! I want another pill!”

      For whatever reason, I thought, “Please don’t throw up again!” But note how that is completely disconnected from the medicine to which I was physically dependent.

      Yes: hopelessness is a psychological concept and plays a role in addiction. But concluding that since you didn’t become addicted and some people who were hopeless did that there is no such thing as a predisposition is an unwarranted conclusion from the data.

      Sorry. There are such predispositions. They also need access to something potentially addictive to activate. Hopelessness makes it less likely that the person will be able to fight the addiction effectively.

      But I bet that among those low SES people with whom you were interacting that there were a number that didn’t become addicted. You can say that your SES protected you and not anything in your brain chemistry.

      But how does your theory account for the fact that people in identical social and/or economic situations differ vastly in their susceptibility to drugs – even when hopelessness is also equally present/not present?

  17. My entire immediate family are alcoholics and/or addicts. Even my step dad and his children are all alcoholics as well.

    When I was a young teenager I suffered from depression and drank quite a lot and smoked a lot of pot, and took whatever pills I could find lying around; I ended up going to treatment for three months when I was 14. That is when I was introduced to 12 step programs ( AA, NA, MA, etc…) and I stopped using (because I was court ordered to, really)

    I started drinking heavily again my first year of college (as us humans tend to) – but my knowledge of my family’s alcoholism and knowing that I was susceptible to going to far made me extremely aware of my own consumption amounts and caused me to regulate myself.

    I’m not sure if I am an alcoholic like my family is, but I do know that the difference between me and them is that I make myself stop drinking even when I want to continue. Because I know that if I keep drinking I will get sick. I know that members of my family cannot make themselves stop, and that I have shared that flaw. My brother will buy a beer on the way home and drink it while driving because he can’t (or doesn’t want to) wait until he gets home. For them (my fams), it is very hard to control. For me, I have learned how to regulate myself cognitively.

    This has helped me dramatically, way more than a 12 step program ever could. Being aware of what alcohol is and what it does to me and what I am possible of makes me regulate myself.

  18. 1. Susceptible? Yes, but not highly.
    2. Grandfather was an alcoholic, no one else yet.
    3. Opiates, salt, fat, Dexter.
    4 & 5. I think addiction is multi factored, and there is no ONE cause or cure, but rather lots of risk factors (genetic and environment). Grouping it under one disease creates confusion. Person A might have a genetic disposition to alcoholism, person B might just be depressed and self medicating, they require completely different approaches. So eh sometimes.
    6. Have you looked on the kitchen table?

  19. I am an addict. I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol but that’s because I know I’m an addict. OK, so if I’ve never been an alcoholic or drug addict how can I know?

    When stressed I get a very strong craving for alcohol. It’s not a normal “boy I could use a drink” thing, it’s much, much stronger than that. After watching most of my dad’s side of the family die young from various addictions (alcohol, cigarettes, drugs) I decided I didn’t want to take that path. So I have rules.

    No drinking except in social situations and then no more than two drinks. No drugs at all. No cigarettes, ever. And if I’m in a stressful period of life (i.e. grad school) no alcohol in the house, no drinks at all.

    I’ve been “addicted” to exercise, carrots, caffeine and sugar. When I was in college I ate so many carrots my skin changed color.

    I do believe that addiction is related to characteristics in the brain. Why am I not addicted to drugs or alcohol? Because I stopped myself before I could go down that road. I have no doubt that if I started down that road I would need help to get off it.

    Keys? Did you check the couch cushions? Coat pocket?

    1. Same here. Everyone in my family, going back to my great-grandparents (which is as far as I’ve been able to go) has a drinking problem. When I 10, my older sister committed suicide as a result of her addictions (which had included hard drugs). So I decided at that point to just treat myself like a recovering addict.

      The only alcohol I drink is expensive fancy cocktails because I know that my cheapness will only let me have one. And even then, I drink them at a rate of about one every 2-3 years. For a long time, I had a “no alcohol in the house” policy, but since I’ve started a family, I’ve reached a place where I have too much to lose for alcohol to be tempting, so I do keep some wine and such for guests.

      My husband was a fairly heavy drinker when we met, but he was young and drinking just seems to be the go to way for kids to socialize these days. We married really young and so he was working for a living while his friends were all still in the party stage, so they eventually stopped calling. He’s replaced them with friends who have families too, and now he’ll buy himself a 6pack of beer maybe 2-3 times a year as a special treat and that’s it. So we’re a pretty dry household.

      For our kids, my plan is to talk to them about their family histories and how that might affect how easily social drinking might become addiction for them. They won’t have the salient experience of a sibling’s death, but I hope that they’ll be rational enough to understand the risks.

  20. Do you think you’re susceptible to addiction?
    Are any of your family members?
    What are you/could you be addicted to?
    If some people with the “addiction flaw” can overcome it (apparently relatively easily), should addiction be treated as a disease?
    Is that just a function of the language?
    Where did I leave my keys?

    Yes.
    Yes (gambling, alcohol, prescription drugs, tobacco).
    Tobacco, caffeine, alcohol on weekends.
    I don’t think addiction is a desease, but rather a personality disorder.
    Splitting hairs, perhaps, but there is no medication that I’m aware of that can cure a personality disorder on its own.
    Bedside table, next to the lava lamp. You’re welcome.

  21. I come from a long line of alcoholics (and wife-beaters). There’s also a couple of drug addicts. I’m extremely lucky in that I didn’t get the “addiction gene”. I have some bad habits (I have problems with eating), but I’m not an -addict-, in the sense that there’s nothing I can’t live a day without (except maybe kitties).
    I can see this having a genetic componant as I can track alcoholism back many generations. I think if you’re born with the trait and then exposed to addiction (especially from a parent who is supposed teach you) you’re more likely to copy the parent.
    I have a family member who is abusing prescription drugs, he is not only taking other people’s pills, but learning what combinations he can take for a high or distilling the drugs down to a more intense form. I am very worried about him, but I don’t know how to talk to him about it in a way that he’ll listen to (he KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING despite the fact that he’s already overdosed 4 or 5 times).

  22. Addiction isn’t -simply- the predisposition. Once the actual addictive behaviour begins, it reshapes the brain, creating neurological structures that reinforce the behaviour (which in turn continues to reinforce those neurological structures). Reward systems become centered around the pursuit of singular substances or behaviours, executive functions become compromised, dopamine or endorphin deficiencies are reinforced, etc.

    The fact that not EVERYONE with an additive predisposition develops an actual addiction (or what we call may classify as addiction… addiction can develop around behaviours as well as substances: gambling, eating, sex, video games, the internet, etc.) does not in any way diminish the actual medical reality and pathology of addiction. Treating it as a disease is the ONLY sensible approach. Treating it as a moral failing or whatever reflects an incredibly simplistic understanding of what addiction is and how it operates (as well as a overly simplistic understanding of human choice itself).

    I had a heroin addiction, and I still have a methadone dependence. I also still have a nicotine addiction. I talk about it a bit here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/01/25/secular-addiction-recovery-part-one-just-a-little-endorphin-deficiency/

  23. Yes, gambling. Just after grad school, I went to the track with a few friends and my apartment mate’s father. I made minimum bets and was $23 positive for the day.

    We got the racing form and being from MIT, it was easy to look at all the pages and pages of data and imagine that you could integrate it and understand it. It was really quite a thrill, looking at the data, figuring out the “answer”, making the bet and then “winning”.

    I have never bet on anything since.

    I think that everyone is susceptible to addiction. In the right (wrong) circumstances anyone and everyone could get addicted. If you haven’t gotten addicted to something, it is just luck that you were not in circumstances where you would get addicted.

  24. I have been assuming that the sort of addiction I have to alcohol, and what Daedalus is talking about, is qualitatively different to the “true” type of addiction that Quietmarc and Natalie have experienced.

    Perhaps I am wrong?

    I think here is a third type also, namely when somebody has a fair dinkum death wish and it is a slow form of suicide.

  25. I used to think I was extremely addiction resistant. I’ve had the chance to become addicted to many things over the years. I’ve had a ton of dental work done, and have had many prescriptions for Vicodin, but for some reason, it simply never took hold. It was just another pill Same for Codeine, which I used to take on occasion for severe migraines. I can’t stand alcohol at all; I am amazed that people can enjoy, let alone become addicted to such a thing. Even nicotine can’t get a hold on me. I smoke regularly, but I can (and have) easily quit for weeks or even months at a time, with no physical and minimal psychological withdrawal

    Then, I found Tramadol. I took it for the first time around the end of April 2009, and I could tell, vaguely, through the haze of happy, hyperactive energy I was feeling, that something sinister was going on in my brain. Perhaps it is the strong selectivity of that particular opioid, or perhaps the combination of an opioid and an SNRI created just the right chemical effect for my brain, but I’ve never found anything, ever, that gives me a more intense or pleasurable high, while simultaneously getting rid of my muscle pain, my chronic fatigue, AND my depression, all in one go! Even better, it isn’t at all disorienting or tiring, so driving and going out to socialize is A-OK. It was an absolute wonder drug. Until it wasn’t. I eventually became physically dependent on it, and in time lost interest in most of the activities I used to love, instead opting to sit alone while being high. In time it severely destabilized my moods and also my, er, digestive function. I had several false starts trying to get off of it, and the withdrawal syndrome has to be one of the worst for any drug, period. It is said that tramadol is a non-addictive drug that is safe to use, but I am inclined to disagree, as are a multitude of other people, as I have found during my searches on the internet. Some people end up taking as many as 20 pills a day after a while. Tramadol is no joke and to this day I still crave the feeling I had while on it, and have to talk myself down from ordering more online (it isn’t a scheduled substance, somehow).

  26. I enjoy alcohol and I really think cannabis should be legal. I’ve never tried the vast majority or addicting drugs and chemicals that are around but if my experience with Oxycontin when I had my tonsils out ten years ago is any indication I’d probably really enjoy abusing opiates. When it comes to alcohol I seem to have a pretty good off switch. I don’t enjoy getting drunk and two beers and I’m full. I like scotch and gin and it I get tippy it’ll involve one of those. My family is full of people who enjoy their booze but not many heavy drinkers or alcoholics. ADD runs in the family and there are times when the impulsiveness and the dis-regulation associated with that disorder may have contributed to some excessive drinking. All in all I feel fairly fortunate that substances have never negatively impacted my life except for a few hangovers many years ago or ZZZ’s when my SO was anticipating OOO’s. I’ve worked with families for 25 years that have been torn apart or destroyed by drugs and alcohol; so if there are some better and more effective treatments on the horizon that would be great!

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