Once An Addict Always An Addict?

drug addict
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I’m sure you heard the saying “once an addict always an addict”. Is it true? Is addiction recovery permanent? Do you do it once and move on? Or is recovery ongoing?

When talking about addiction there are several factors:

  • The type of addiction
  • The severity of the addiction
  • How long someone has dealt with the addiction
  • How harmful of an impact the addiction has on the subject’s life

Labeling someone an addict carries a negative meaning. It carries judgement. An addict is thought of as a degenerate of some sort. An addiction is really just an obsession. However it’s thought of as a harmful or dangerous obsession.

Some addictions are more socially acceptable. The majority of Americans are overweight. Someone can argue that many of them are addicted to junk food. However, it’s so common that it’s not really thought of as an addiction. Unless a person takes it to an extreme to where they’re morbidly obese.

Another issue in America is excessive alcohol consumption. Yet in America drinking alcohol is socially acceptable in many social settings. At those events it’s very common to see people who’ve had too much to drink. Those same people might repeat this behavior every weekend. But they aren’t labeled alcoholics in America. Yet in many other countries they would be labeled addicts or degenerates.

When it comes to recovery I think an addict should do whatever it takes to recover. If they find a permanent solution then that’s great. However this isn’t usually the case. After recovering form an addiction it’s common for the addict to pick up a new addiction.

An addiction is often a symptom of a deeper psychological or emotional issue. Addressing psychological and emotional issues isn’t easy. There isn’t a quick fix. For many people it requires years of support group meetings or seeing a therapist. For those people recovery becomes an ongoing process. They have to “stay in recovery” otherwise they go back to bad habits or pick up new addictions.

I’m one of those people. I was a fat kid growing up. As an adult I had issues with overeating and emotional eating. You can read more about that here. I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight over the last several years. However I still struggle with junk food cravings from time to time. And I do occasionally overeat every once in a while. It’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.

I try to regularly meditate to manage my obsessive thinking. I try to address emotional issues as soon as they come up otherwise they turn into junk food cravings. I try to surround myself with positive people. I try to regularly consume positive/motivating content (books, videos, blogs). I try to maintain a routine so I don’t slip into a negative mental space. I’ve been doing this for years. I say “I try” because I’m not perfect. I do the best I can and so far it seems to be working. However to keep it working I have to keep trying/doing.

Have you dealt with any bad habits or addictions? Have you had any experience with recovery? Do you think once an addict always an addict? Let me know in the comments.