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Thread: Addiction Isn't Selfish: Interesting article about addiction in light of PSH's death

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    #1

    Addiction Isn't Selfish: Interesting article about addiction in light of PSH's death

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    A friend from HS (acquaintance, really) posted this article. I thought I would share it here. I put it in debates because I understand this topic can get heated.

    http://www.electricfeast.com/a-note-...s-not-selfish/
    Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s death is the worst. Seriously. In much the same way that Chris Kelly‘s was. Or Cory Monteith‘s. And if you’re now looking at me like I’m crazy for even using Hoffman and Monteith in the same article, hear me out: It’s not because they were equal talents. Your opinion on that probably depends on whether you’re fifteen or thirty-five. This is not about losing one of the greatest talents of our time. Their deaths are horrific because they died alone, victims of an incredibly lonely disease. And what’s worse, they didn’t have to be alone. Loving significant others, loving children, admiration from everyone around them — if they could, I’m sure they would have chosen those things.

    My dad was my biggest fan. He was the biggest fan of all of his kids. I was probably the only one who realized it, and I understand why. But when he died, wasted away and a shell of his former self after a lethal fall, the only possessions he had were photos of us and letters we’d written him decades ago. He would have liked to have been at our sporting events and our graduations, but instead he was drinking himself to death in a second-floor apartment in my hometown, bipolar disorder only adding immediacy to the fatal inevitabilities of his alcoholism. Anyone who thinks dying from an overdose is selfish has a weird idea of what an addict wants out of life. There comes a point at which drinking, drug use, all that — they’re not fun anymore. Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t out partying. He was alone in his bathroom, compelled. Cory Monteith in his hotel room. Chris Kelly in his living room. All the money in the world, all the adoring fans in the world, and, to see the comments people make on their deaths, they were selfish assholes who chose drugs over the people who loved them.

    I guarantee that every time Hoffman put that needle in his arm, he felt guilty. He felt conflicted. He craved that high that would take the pain away, but knew the pain he caused himself and those around him every time he took a hit. We all have destructive habits. If we’re lucky, it’s watching too much TV when it’s inhibiting our productivity, or looking at porn when we think it’s a sin, or lying, cheating, overeating. If we’re lucky, our addictions won’t kill us. The majority of us can go through a partying phase and then grow up, settle down, and put down the sauce. But for an unfortunate group, the need to keep going becomes as pervasive as the need to eat or sleep. And we call them selfish, as if they would prefer to be a slave to the thing that’s ruining everything good in their lives.

    When tragedies like these deaths happen to celebrities, they should be a wake-up call for the rest of us. If someone who has everything going for them can be so horribly enslaved to what they know could kill them, imagine what it’s like for the average addict. Addiction is bigger than class, race, religion, or any other factor that one might hope would reduce its captive hold. Succumbing to it isn’t selfish. It’s horribly sad and extremely difficult to prevent, even though it is, in theory, preventable. The way we talk about a celebrity who ODs says a lot about the way we think about people who are struggling around us. It’s time we tried to understand struggles we don’t endure ourselves. It’s called empathy, and we could all use a lot more of it.



    I thought it offered an interesting perspective. As someone who grew up with an alcoholic mother --currently a 'dry' alcoholic-- I've spent YEARS in a very bitter state towards those who've let substances rule their realities. As a result, in some ways one could argue that they ruled mine. Recently, mostly due to work, I've had to work very VERY hard to do my own healing around substance abuse so I could effectively be present for my clients who also wrestle with this issue among others. While I doubt I'll ever be cut out for or have the desire to get my LCDC (Licensed Chem. Dependency Counselor), it's also an area of competency that is essential given our culture.

    Do I think that substance abuse is selfish? My knee-jerk reaction is to say yes. Sorry, don't hate me. I'm being honest, and I hope you can appreciate that. I know that "knee-jerk" yes is coming from my past experiences with a mother who at times couldn't take care of herself, nor me. It's the part of me that has grown to know trust as a luxury--something to be given only when it doesn't really matter either way because you've got all your bases covered even if she fucks up again.

    But on further reflection, I feel like "selfish" isn't the right word. Self-defeating... Self-sabotaging... Self-loathing... Self-losing seem more appropriate. To me, selfish means acting soley with your own interests at heart. Is abusing a substance really in the interests of the addict? I've never been one, so I'll never know. I know what it looks like from the outside, but from the inside? How can I really say?

    Your thoughts?

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    It's an interesting perspective for sure and this is a topic that truly hits home with me. I had an amphetamine issues a long time ago. I have been clean now for 3 years 1 month and 21 days. I feel like personally yes it is selfish. I knew what I was doing and did not care because I could not handle with the reality of my personal situation. Instead of choosing to face life its like a get away running as high up as you can go. It is a difficult thing to kick, but you can not force some one to stop. They have to want to themselves. No matter how much you pay for a facility or anything it does not matter unless they want to change.

    Til i got a wake up call got myself cleaned up and really see the damage of my actions. I think that in this situation where they die they do not get to see the consequences of their addiction. Sometimes seeing the consequences of your addiction can help. It helped me at least. But none the less I feel like addiction is a selfish thing whether people realize it or not. I think people ought to be held responsible for those actions because coddling someone is not going to help them, please do not mistake that for saying well just be rude. But do not sugar coat it for them either.

    Yes you lose yourself in an addiction. For example my family has a history of struggling with addictions of all sort. They call it addictive personalities. But I feel like that is saying well I was raised to be ignorant therefore I am. You can always choose to be different. Life is nothing but a series of choices. Sometimes we chose wrong but NO ONE makes you choose that. You always make your own choice except for a few horrifying examples of human nature where those are taken away.
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    I read this earlier this afternoon and found myself thinking about it for most of the day. My knee jerk reaction has always been that substance abuse is selfish, that individuals who (to me) carelessly cut their lives short is selfish. But after reading this, I began to feel like perhaps it isn't as simple as that. E, your input sums up perfectly how I feel.
    Thanks for sharing this!
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    I believe addiction to be inherently selfish. Engaging in addict behavior is self serving, even if the behavior is inevitably self destructive. The behavior serves a purpose, or it would never be utilized in the first place. Even self-deprivation can be inherently selfish. For me, abstaining from food can be a means to reduce anxiety, but I am miserable for my loved ones to be around (and overall suck as a person) when I'm fasting.

    The main component of my success in recovery is accountability, which involves me coming to the conclusion that engaging in my addictive behaviors is immoral and unacceptable. To do so is to take lightly all the damage I did to others with my addiction.
    The best, most valuable assistance I have received came from MH professionals who weren't afraid to give me some tough love. In my own experience, addiction treatment involved a lot of diverting blame and shirking responsibility. "The addiction made me..." "Ed/Ana/Mia did this to my parents...." I was sick for years while I played the blame game.

    As far as the article goes, I agree with the author that watching too much tv can be a destructive habit. But it is a stretch to compare them in the same breath to a heroin addiction. There is so much more destruction caused by heroin than television viewing. To attribute it to "luck" that some of us watch t.v. rather than shoot up is a bit off. We make choices as to what coping mechanisms we use to deal with daily stressors. Every day, I choose less destructive options than the one I used in my past. There isn't luck involved for me.

    (This post is super disorganized and I'm way to tired to fix it. Please ignore me if I make no sense or am totally off topic)
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    #5
    Im like most of y'all that i feel like it is selfish. Like the OP I see it from an outside perspective so I'm not really sure what goes on totally in ones head who is currently using or drinking.
    My brother who abused substance said it was selfish, he was trying to run away from his problems, than face him. He tried to run so fast and so hard but in the end it came back in a circle and caught up with him, his problems then did not become only his problems, it became multiple peoples problems.

    So my though and still thought about is that it is selfish.
    My best friend is battling the same thing with her brother and we have the same views.
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    #6
    Addiction is absolutely selfish, it's just not purposefully selfish. No one thinks "I want to keep using because I don't care about other people." You keep using because in your panic it feels like self sustaining

    To call someone selfish because of an addiction is super low though, IMO. Trust me, they can recognize it. They don't need you to say it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by #luci View Post
    I read this earlier this afternoon and found myself thinking about it for most of the day. My knee jerk reaction has always been that substance abuse is selfish, that individuals who (to me) carelessly cut their lives short is selfish. But after reading this, I began to feel like perhaps it isn't as simple as that. E, your input sums up perfectly how I feel.
    Thanks for sharing this!
    I keep thinking and thinking about it. I still can't really settle on a perspective that seems like a good fit yet.

    Text me or something so we can go have coffee soon!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by lorem_ipsum View Post
    Addiction is absolutely selfish, it's just not purposefully selfish. No one thinks "I want to keep using because I don't care about other people." You keep using because in your panic it feels like self sustaining

    To call someone selfish because of an addiction is super low though, IMO. Trust me, they can recognize it. They don't need you to say it.
    Now that I can understand-- as I've dealt with panic disorder for much of my older teen/adult life. I don't think I ever though of "using" as something that would be self-soothing in the moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katyp View Post
    I believe addiction to be inherently selfish. Engaging in addict behavior is self serving, even if the behavior is inevitably self destructive. The behavior serves a purpose, or it would never be utilized in the first place. Even self-deprivation can be inherently selfish. For me, abstaining from food can be a means to reduce anxiety, but I am miserable for my loved ones to be around (and overall suck as a person) when I'm fasting.

    The main component of my success in recovery is accountability, which involves me coming to the conclusion that engaging in my addictive behaviors is immoral and unacceptable. To do so is to take lightly all the damage I did to others with my addiction.
    The best, most valuable assistance I have received came from MH professionals who weren't afraid to give me some tough love. In my own experience, addiction treatment involved a lot of diverting blame and shirking responsibility. "The addiction made me..." "Ed/Ana/Mia did this to my parents...." I was sick for years while I played the blame game.

    As far as the article goes, I agree with the author that watching too much tv can be a destructive habit. But it is a stretch to compare them in the same breath to a heroin addiction. There is so much more destruction caused by heroin than television viewing. To attribute it to "luck" that some of us watch t.v. rather than shoot up is a bit off. We make choices as to what coping mechanisms we use to deal with daily stressors. Every day, I choose less destructive options than the one I used in my past. There isn't luck involved for me.

    (This post is super disorganized and I'm way to tired to fix it. Please ignore me if I make no sense or am totally off topic)
    And here's where I finally feel brave enough to say that when I had to go to an AA meeting for a class one time, I left so angry I could barely breathe for that very same reason. Truth be told, after processing that whole experience, I do realize that it was the LAST sort of meeting I should've gone to. You might as well have sent an SA survivor in to a group for sex offenders. I know that sounds like a big leap, but the trauma surrounded my mother's addiction runs deep.

    I did find the AA setup to be missing a lot of personal responsibility. Maybe that's good in the beginning-- how can you accept responsibility for something when you are spinning out of control? But I think at some point it might be good to add the responsibility piece back in. I much prefer this "version" of a Step Addiction Treatment program: 16 Steps of Discovery and Empowerment

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    With the exception of alcohol with is legal and accepted and prevalent, or drugs that start out prescribed, I feel like the decision to use a drug for the first time is ridiculously selfish. At some point, it becomes an addition, and then the "selfish" line blurs for me. But no one is addicted to heroin before they use it the first time. And using it even once s beyond selfish. Even if no addiction results, it's expensive and dangerous.

    So I always struggle with the "not really selfish because it's a disease" thing. Because at one point, it wasn't a disease. It was just someone who didn't give a shit enough about the people who care for him that he decided to try heroin because it sounded interesting or his friends were doing it or he was trying to medicate his pain.

    And when a famous person dies, I can't help but think that unlike most addicts, they at least had the ability to access the very best treatments possible. For PSH, not treatment program or option was out of reach. I know it's not as simple as that. And my understanding is that he did stay clean for year. But the junkie living on the streets can't go to a fancy clinic in Malibu, or to s deserted island where there is no pressure and no drugs. So, fair or not, that makes me a bit less sympathetic to rich addicts.
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    I didn't read everyone else's response, so my apologies if I repeat what someone else has posted. Moving on.. lol

    about the article:
    I wouldn't go so far as to "guarantee that every time Hoffman put that needle in his arm, he felt guilty. He felt conflicted. He craved that high that would take the pain away, but knew the pain he caused himself and those around him every time he took a hit." Nor that, " if they could, I’m sure they would have chosen those things" (the significant others, family, friends, etc.) but I get the author and understand where they are coming from.

    Just as there are some addicts that are in denial they have a serious problem, some addicts are very much aware of their addiction and the consequences it brings, but still continue their habit as if those consequences didn't matter or existed. Hence, the "selfishness". In my opinion, what we need to understand before we call any addict selfish, is that an addiction is something that is psychological and physiological. In other words, when an addict becomes addicted it isn't in their power to chose anymore. It is a dependency that controls their entire actions, behaviors, and views on life. I do believe that an addiction starts off as selfish due to the fact that they are only doing it out of self pleasure with no one else's interests in mind, but soon as they continue those behaviors, it becomes an addiction and then it's not so selfish.

    I most agree we should empathize and even sympathize, when we can, by providing comfort and assurance to those who are going through an addiction, and do this first before we think about passing any judgment of any sort. Just like with anything or anyone in life. So, we should be more empathetic that an individual, who is worthy of love and compassion just like the rest of us, has unfortunately come to a point in their life where they cannot truly enjoy the freedom of choice and all the other beautiful and wonderful things that exist outside of their world which is their addiction. How, why, or when they became addicts, well, there are many possible reasons. The only thing to feel sad about is that unfortunately at some point in their life they came at a crossroad and made a decision that hindered and essentially destroyed their life.

    Yes, to some degree we are all addicted: Some of us are such enthusiasts of certain hobbies, or things, or activities in our lives that we cannot see ourselves without them. But drug addiction in and of itself is a totally different category in my opinion. I say this because I believe it's the most common addiction (drug or alcohol) and I dare say, probably the first to be recognized as an addiction to. Not only that, I also dare say (and no, I don't have statistics or hard solid facts to prove this, so if you find any solid facts please feel free to correct my assumptions) that drug and alcohol addiction is at the very top of the list if not #1 addiction to affect families and friends the most.

    I would love to keep going, but don't want to make this any longer. This is only my opinion to a very interesting topic, and I don't mean to offend anyone in any way from what I have stated. I truly have an interest for these kind of topics and love to discuss them, since it is a topic that very well has an impact on life and family. So, just my two cents =)
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    Quote Originally Posted by kay_kay View Post
    I didn't read everyone else's response, so my apologies if I repeat what someone else has posted. Moving on.. lol

    about the article:
    I wouldn't go so far as to "guarantee that every time Hoffman put that needle in his arm, he felt guilty. He felt conflicted. He craved that high that would take the pain away, but knew the pain he caused himself and those around him every time he took a hit." Nor that, " if they could, I’m sure they would have chosen those things" (the significant others, family, friends, etc.) but I get the author and understand where they are coming from.

    Just as there are some addicts that are in denial they have a serious problem, some addicts are very much aware of their addiction and the consequences it brings, but still continue their habit as if those consequences didn't matter or existed. Hence, the "selfishness". In my opinion, what we need to understand before we call any addict selfish, is that an addiction is something that is psychological and physiological. In other words, when an addict becomes addicted it isn't in their power to chose anymore. It is a dependency that controls their entire actions, behaviors, and views on life. I do believe that an addiction starts off as selfish due to the fact that they are only doing it out of self pleasure with no one else's interests in mind, but soon as they continue those behaviors, it becomes an addiction and then it's not so selfish.

    I most agree we should empathize and even sympathize, when we can, by providing comfort and assurance to those who are going through an addiction, and do this first before we think about passing any judgment of any sort. Just like with anything or anyone in life. So, we should be more empathetic that an individual, who is worthy of love and compassion just like the rest of us, has unfortunately come to a point in their life where they cannot truly enjoy the freedom of choice and all the other beautiful and wonderful things that exist outside of their world which is their addiction. How, why, or when they became addicts, well, there are many possible reasons. The only thing to feel sad about is that unfortunately at some point in their life they came at a crossroad and made a decision that hindered and essentially destroyed their life.

    Yes, to some degree we are all addicted: Some of us are such enthusiasts of certain hobbies, or things, or activities in our lives that we cannot see ourselves without them. But drug addiction in and of itself is a totally different category in my opinion. I say this because I believe it's the most common addiction (drug or alcohol) and I dare say, probably the first to be recognized as an addiction to. Not only that, I also dare say (and no, I don't have statistics or hard solid facts to prove this, so if you find any solid facts please feel free to correct my assumptions) that drug and alcohol addiction is at the very top of the list if not #1 addiction to affect families and friends the most.

    I would love to keep going, but don't want to make this any longer. This is only my opinion to a very interesting topic, and I don't mean to offend anyone in any way from what I have stated. I truly have an interest for these kind of topics and love to discuss them, since it is a topic that very well has an impact on life and family. So, just my two cents =)
    That's just not true. At all. Liking cars or scrapbooking is far from addiction. Addiction is a very specific word and has a very specific meaning, and most people don't have additions of any kind. By comparing them when they are not at all the same, you both minimize and unhealthily normalize true addition.

    Also, this is a very weird first post. You should pop over to the newbies section and intro yourself.
    Science always wins over bullshit. ~Dick Rutkowski
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