Love as hardest addiction to quit
Stanton Peele is a psychologist who has changed the addiction field. He has pioneered, among other things, the idea that addiction occurs with a range of experiences, and recognition of natural recovery from addiction.
From investigation, Stenton has listed seven hardest addictions to quit. And do you know something? Love is the worst! People I have shared the list with were like, ha, love? Then, in a quick rationalization, some asked, is it love for one’s kids?
But Stanton really meant love for a spouse. Joseph, my colleague in the office, affirms it is true. Married for decades, he said, “Yes, I am addicted to my wife.” I had long noticed that. Anytime his wife travels overseas on assignment, which she does often, he feels miserable and confesses he is missing his wife. Some other respondents cited the example of husbands and wives who die soon after their beloved spouses pass.
Love addiction is said to be a human behaviour in which people become addicted to the feeling of being in love. Love addicts can take on many different behaviours. Love addiction is common; however, most love addicts do not realize they are addicted to love. We will look at this in detail later; for now let’s look at Stenton’s list in reverse order of difficulty.
I have not forgotten that in the Nigerian setting we may have to add greed for money to the list. That should be next week.
Cocaine: Cocaine is associated with certain lifestyles – at one time (if not now) people in the financial industry and entertainment fields – and more often younger people. Studying long-term users of cocaine, Ronald Siegel found most moderated, controlled, or quit their use over time. Patricia Erickson and Bruce Alexander surveyed the research and found that fewer than 10 percent of cocaine addicts continued their addictions for substantial periods. After cocaine use peaked in the 1980s, most middle-class users quit (although use in inner cities continued some time longer).
Alcohol: Alcohol is the addiction most written about, both in scientific literature and as recounted in personal memoirs. Alcoholics treatment experts claim alcoholism is inescapable without treatment. But epidemiological research does not find this is true.
Valium: In general, drugs used for pacifying purposes (which are usually depressants), taken regularly over long periods of time, are hard to quit. This holds for sedatives, sleeping pills, barbiturates, and tranquilizers. Several best-sellers have been written about the difficulty in quitting Valium (benzodiazepine tranquilizers): Barbara Gordon’s I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can and Betty Ford’s The Times of My Life. A prominent New York City newscaster, Jim Jensen, recounted in People how he readily quit cocaine but couldn’t get off Valium: “Valium withdrawal soon plunged him into a massive depression that left him unable to eat or sleep. It took two more months in two hospitals for him to regain his mental and physical health.”
Heroin: Powerful analgesics, taken regularly, are difficult for many (but not most) people to quit. After all, most of us have had intravenous supplies of narcotics in the hospital, followed by prescriptions for powerful analgesics when we went home.
Cigarettes: In ratings by cocaine and alcohol addicts, smoking is regularly cited as the more difficult drug to quit, generally on par with or more difficult than heroin. Nonetheless, more than 40 million living Americans have quit smoking. While impressive, this still only represents about half of all of those ever addicted to cigarettes – although a higher percentage of those in higher socioeconomic groups have quit.
Fast Foods: Fattening or comfort foods, which deprive more Americans of life years than any other substance, are inextricably integrated with our own lives. Although overweight is disapproved and regularly lectured against, it still doesn’t have the stigma of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, so that hidden (and not so hidden) food addictions are more readily tolerated. That gastric bypass surgery is growing so rapidly shows that this is the substance addiction people find hardest to quit, even those for whom it causes serious, life-threatening health conditions. In fact, we will never resolve our massive food addictions in the United States, but we hope to come up with medical cures to prevent their negative effects, as if we would succeed by simply deciding to let smokers continue to smoke noncancerous cigarettes.
Love: Ah, love is the hardest addiction to quit. It certainly causes more murders and suicides than any other addiction. And if you think people miss smoking, consider what people are like when they break up with long-time lovers or get divorced – even when they hate their spouses! (See the response to this post, “My divorce has left me . . .”). On the other hand, we read frequently about people who totally sacrificed their lives to a lover who betrayed them or otherwise destroyed their psyches, yet who still didn’t quit the relationship – what is the answer, after all, when an abuse victim is asked why they simply don’t leave an abusive spouse? “Because I love him, and can’t live without him.” I regularly counsel spouses of substance abusers about this