I’m thinking of picking up an addiction. Anything will do; drugs, sex, cigarettes, alcohol, porn. Yes, addiction by its very nature is bad; something that makes one forget oneself and do all sorts of crazy and nasty things, so why is it that I want an addiction? Well, in this day and age where there’s an addiction that can be used to explain away almost anything, I can say that I have never truly been addicted to anything which in turn means that I cannot comment on it with any sort of authority. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke or get high and unless I go home tonight to find Johnny Depp in my bed, it’s unlikely I will develop an addiction to sex.
So why is it that I feel the need to comment on addiction with some authority? Well, in my book, Life, Love and Assimilation, I discuss drug addiction and how I refuse to believe that it’s some kind of malaise of the mind; how it can be explained away with the words “disease” or “mental illness.” I have always believed that the inability to give up an addiction is the result of a weak will and a weak mind. Now I’m wondering if this is because I have never had any personal experience with it. I mean, sure, I love chocolate and in my book, a person can usually get away with murder as long as they leave a box of Milk Tray afterward or maybe even just an Aero but chocolate, whilst wonderful and amazing and all things good, doesn’t have an active addictive ingredient so can’t even come close to what is experienced by “real” addicts. And whilst I usually say with 100% utter conviction that placing addiction under the label of “disease” is wrong, that it undermines the laws of accountability and that addicts should just “pull themselves together”, I do wonder if I’m wrong and of course, the only way to really know is to go through it myself. After all, I am a great advocate of “…a thousand miles in his moccasins …”
So, what should my poison be? Ok, let’s get serious. No, I’m not seriously going to go and start smoking or drinking or sleeping around. Some say that these things add to your life experience. “How can you say you’ve lived when you’ve never smoked a joint, never got high and never got drunk?” To me, that’s not experience. Watching a sun set on the most beautiful beach in
is experience. Living with dirt-poor people in one of the poorest countries in the world is experience. Having a conversation with a monk in Thailand or having enjoyed the view from the twin towers before 9/11 or attending the last concert put on at Wembley Stadium or simply enjoying a good meal with good friends, falling in (and out of?) love, or revelling in that note in your favourite song is experience. I don’t need to get high and drunk to have good experiences in life. I have them anyway. So what’s the point of everything I said in my first two paragraphs? I guess I’m trying to say that I want to be more open-minded, that maybe addiction is not just a simple matter of, “Ok, I’m going to stop,” and Voila! Addiction be damned! But I’m such a goddamn stubborn person that unless I go through the extremity of an addiction, I simply can’t fathom how it can be so all-consuming, how it can sap one’s good sense and self-worth, how it can make one value the subject of their addiction above all else including life itself. So I guess for now I’ll stick to what I know and continue to spurn all the “weak-willed” addicts in the world and if one day, I fall into the hands of this dark thing called addiction, I’ll understand why I have people’s pity but not their sympathy. I’ll understand why I don’t have their respect, only their scorn. I’ll understand why they refuse to excuse addiction as a disease. Barbados
I’ll also understand that they are wrong.