Self Forced by Addiction

My conversations with Imee, 35, as well as her parents kept coming back to one idea:  Imee was addicted and driven by a force she could not control.

Her parents couldn't understand. Their daughter knew too well that her addictions to alcohol, nicotine, casual sex, and excessive gambling are destroying her life,

"Why couldn't she stop? Nobody willingly does what he or she knows is irrational and self-destructive," they insisted.

How I wish it could be that simple.

Plato would say that there are kinds of desires that couldn't be "reasoned away."

He said it's like looking at the ocean. You're severely thirsty and you want to drink its water.

You know damn well that if you drink ocean water, you could get sick or die. But the craving or desire won't go away.

You still do it ... untamed by reason.

I've worked with lots of chronically depressive individuals. That inner "coercive force" seems to explain too how depression takes hold. It's also how suicide thoughts take hold.

It's not enough to say, "I'm going to stop now." You've to work at it. Until you get strong enough to master your irrational, self destructive thoughts.

In psychotherapy, the mind is retrained to overcome that "coercive force." Often, it's an act of the will.

But addictions usually involve a "disabled will," among other hidden factors.

So it's essential that the "roots" (not just the symptoms) of the disability are accurately located first.

After that is done, only then can one start pulling himself or herself together.

Most of the steps leading up to addiction recovery deal with your mind.

"The answer lies in the brain," as Science writer Knvul Sheikh put it. Then, "it's up to the legs."