Recently I realized that not only am I addicted to drugs and alcohol, but I’m also addicted to my smartphone and the game apps I cycle through weekly with it. Now let’s get something clear to start, the latter 2 addictions (iPhone and apps) are far less serious than drugs/alcohol. But let’s look not forget about the thousands of deaths each year caused by texting or fiddling with one’s phone while driving. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there either, I’m also addicted to junk food, sex and perhaps a plethora of other material or non-material things in my day to day life. Today we’re going to look at the correlation of it all, why am I addicted to everything in my life?
When I was 21 I discovered, or maybe I should say I accepted, that I was addicted to drugs and alcohol. The scary part is that that didn’t stop me from later on that year insisting on going out for some more research. Luckily I made it back. Sometimes we have to go try some “controlled drinking and drugging” to really see if we can stop on the drop of a dime or if we are the type that in fact doesn’t drink like his/her fellows. Either way, I found out that year that I was indeed an alcoholic and drug addict. It wasn’t until a few years later I discovered that gambling was potentially a bit more tantalizing to me that it was to others. Luckily I was able to spot it and distance myself from it, besides a few spontaneous road trips to Las Vegas here or there with my sober running buddies. But hey I didn’t get sober to sit around and wait to die. That being said though, I have thus far been able to distance myself far enough away from gambling to consider myself currently having a problem with it. The same can not be said for my iPhone in 2017. I know I’m not alone when I say that I am thoroughly addicted to the rush of checking my phone. Almost in the same way, I would hide behind a drink at a social gathering until the edge was small enough for me to feel “normal” and “a part of.” Or I could hide behind that cup until people left and I was all alone or in the sole company of my lower companions where I could “be myself.” I exhibit the same behavior with my phone, any social setting where I find myself feeling alien, separate or different is nothing I can’t believe behind the cover of my “smart phone.” As if I disappear when face engulfed, I hide and self-medicate until I feel a part of or they all just go away.
Maybe it’s not all bad, according to Beth Mole of arstechnica.com, video games, including Tetris (one of my personal favorite apps), may actually “protect mental health and avert trauma and addiction.” In her article, she goes on to describe how games such as Tetris can help “diminish the intensity of hankerings” and help fight off real-life cravings. Reminds me of this phrase I’ve heard on and off throughout my time in recovery, “replacement therapy.” Is that what’s happening when I replace one addiction with another? It’s hard to say for sure, it’s also hard to say if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. The last thing I would want to do is neglect my recovery by being obsessed with games and phones. Also, it would be extremely generous for me to compare my iPhone fiddling with the Tetris game therapy described by the writer above.
Another point I want to touch on is the importance of choosing wisely what I wish to use as a distraction or replacement if I choose to do so. Hobbies are great but there’s a thin line between friend and fodder. Hobbies will only go so far, it’s thought that a devotion to helping other alcoholics and addicts is where the real recipe lies. Can I somehow develop a semi-healthy obsession with recovery and the help of others?! Is that okay? I’m not sure if there’s a definite answer to that question. I think I can safely say though that it’s better than a gambling or sex addiction. It’s also safe to assume a campaign of service is likely more util than a 4-hour binge on Angry Birds. I guess it’s something that needs to be figured out for one’s self. I know one thing though, the most pleasure I’ve felt in recovery has come from the moments and times I’ve “reached through” that 3rd dimension of space and time and connected with another human genuinely in selfless help and service. Never do I sleep better than those times but what do I know. Another thing I can say for sure is that if there’s something one needs to latch onto temporarily to make it through that next hour or day clean then who am I to say that’s wrong or right. I can safely say that many a chocolate peanut butter milkshakes have met my sorrows on down days on my journey through recovery thus far and I can’t say for sure that I would have used without that temporary vice, but I do know that it helped me through that “moment.” I guess there’s a reason some suggest, “all things in moderation.”