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What can an apple teach us about addictions?

Let’s suppose you are hungry and I happen to have some great looking, great tasting apples. So, I offer you one. You thank me and agree - it is a great tasting apple with the right taste, texture, and aroma you like in an apple.

You finish the apple and I offer you another. You finish the second apple.

I offer you a third apple but you say “No thanks - I’ve had enough”.

Now let’s suppose that instead of apples, I have a case of beer. (Or several “rocks” or an eighth of cocaine powder - you get the idea.)

I offer you some cocaine and you accept. It goes real quickly.

I offer you more and again you accept. You finish quickly the second time.

I offer you some for a third time. Do you easily say, “No thanks - I’ve had enough cocaine”?

If the “no” response to that final offer was casual and automatic, we aren’t talking about an addiction.

But if you had to think about it before you said “no”, there is a problem. And this is why thinking about the answer “no” is a problem.

When you said “no” to the apple, it was automatic because your appetite for apples was satisfied. It no longer appealed to you. You weren’t worried about consequences if you ate a third apple. You didn’t consider that the third could lead to a forth and then a fifth. You didn’t need to think of an excuse to explain why you were out so long eating apples. You didn’t wonder if you were going to wake up in the morning with a stomach ache from too many apples. You said “no” because your appetite switch had turned “off”.

If you had to think about that third beer, or third line, or third rock, your appetite switch is broken. It doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t make any difference why it’s broken, broken is broken. If you know that you wouldn’t say “no” to a third offer, then the switch has been broken and you have been trying to live with a problem. The question now is - what do you do about a broken switch.

Do you try to work around something that’s broken? Do you try making up explanations, excuses, or staying out of sight? If you do - you are trying to distort reality. It really is broken even if it causes problems only 1/3 of the time.

Or, you can start to learn about addictions and how bad the problems can get. You can learn what to do to prevent your broken appetite switch from causing problems.

And you can keep this in mind every time you see an apple.

Copyright  © Stephen Buchness 2006