The 1982 memoir, I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can by Barbara Gordon, was a ground-breaking revelation. The public learned that well-meaning people and their perfectly decent doctors can unintentionally nurture an addiction. The backdrop to how the memoir’s high-stakes career woman became accidentally addicted to tranquilizers is quickly summarized in her client’s joke about a woman amusing a man “only here for the weekend.” The character in the joke responds “Well I’m dancing as fast as I can.”
The pun illustrates poorly made choices and underscores the memoirist’s unwise reliance upon pills prescribed to ease the physical plus emotional aches of her ruinous, fast-paced life. She has failed to deal with her abusive boyfriend, her crushing work schedule and the need to stand out in a highly competitive career. The doctor prescribing the author’s sedatives had no idea of his patient’s destructive values. He did not foresee addictive behavior shaping up within her. Readers can identify with the author as they consider how they became addicted to anything from the Internet to pornography, drugs to shopping, and any behavior they find hard to quit after doing what they could to escape a sense of pressure.
Accidental addictions to medications can also happen when doctors prescribe something for legitimate, sensible reasons but the patient fails to do necessary tasks to minimize or to end the problem they have. It can also happen when patients rationalize to themselves that conning a doctor to give them medications as a vacation from unhappiness is only a temporary way to deal with some sort of stress. If such patients fail to take actions or to use thinking patterns that end their stressful problem(s), then they might end up taking the drugs for long periods of time. America’s opioid and benzodiazepine addiction crises illustrate the problem. Johns Hopkins University Hospitals noted it in a Long-Term Opioid Prescription Use Jumps Threefold Over 16-Year Period, Large-Scale Study Suggests study announced last year.
People with the courage to master their emotions and to lower the stress in their lives, however, don’t become addicted to anything. They simply feel pride in their accomplishments, a rewarding sensation that’s safe. Why, then, do some people avoid that behavior and sense of responsibility? There are numerous excuses for the failure.
Other articles at the e-counseling site have presented information about addiction problems. Many of the articles have one thing in common: The addicts failed to deal with life in a mature, problem-solving way. They masked and hid from their unhappiness, their lack of energy and their absence of resolve to overcome specific problems. They indulged in drugs or other addictive substances instead, failing to behave as responsible, goal-oriented adults.
The way to prevent that living hell is to decide that you will deal with problems one by one, that you will not take the easy way out, that you will tell the truth to yourself and to the people in your life, and that you will seek advice when necessary. You choose to endure the pain of facing life’s complications, the loss of some troubling acquaintances, and perhaps some income and conveniences, so that you can live without a sense of guilt or shame. That is the path of mature behavior, the path to self-respect.
None of us are born knowing what to do about every sort of problem. What we are born to do is to realize that we need to consult experts when we need to benefit from their insights and competence. When you have a problem that overwhelms you, ask trusted friends and colleagues for ideas about what to do. If necessary, ask a therapist or coach, or an expert in some line of work related to your problem. When you feel relief that you’re being understood and respected for seeking solutions rather than letting problems continue, it’s less likely that you’ll indulge in addicting behaviors. The joy of being a functional adult is a deeply satisfying reward.