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The fatalism of addiction and love

Aktualizováno: 11. 5. 2023

„Am I addicted?“

„Is he an addict?“

„Is this already an addiction?“

I guess I am not the only psychologist specalized on addictions who often gets these kinds of questions that are, in a sense, paradoxical. Why?

It is a bit funny. The central concept of addiction as a disease is the loss of control which states that you are not able to simply just stop consuming your drug (or activity) of choice. So, if you „just say no“, or if you change your life in a way that you no longer are addicted, then through the lenses of this addiciton discourse you had not really been addicted at first place.

In other words, the only „real addicts“ are those people who die and use until the last day of their lives. Of course, then there are also the „addicts“ who „abstain“. And abstinence is a nice trick for the concept. Hey, I am the real addict, I will always be the addict, nothing changed. I am just not using so I don´t need to control the consumption. But trust me, as soon as I get a bit of alcohol (or opiate or meth or whatever), I will be back in the uncontrollable state.

I think that this fatalism is something quite important in love afffairs, too. Love, as well as addiction, has something fatal in itself. I will love you always. Forever and ever. I will never leave you. There is nothing that can split us apart. I guess everyone knows this, at least from billions of songs.

But then, when one of the lovers say „I am leaving“ or „I don´t want to be with you any longer“ or „I don´t love you anymore“ and he or she really leaves (and does not seem to come back), there is the sudden conspicion that this was not the real love at the first place.

So you apparently never loved me. I was only one of many. So go and get your real love! Good luck, you lier!

The same as with addiction. Only those who really ARE NOT able to kick the habit, to say goodbye to a bottle or a joint or a pornhub or an overeating are REALLY addicted.

(Interesting question would be: If medicine offers the institute of „treatment“ for addiction, what would be such an institute for love?)

For me, there is something beautiful and important in fatalism and it has to do with the power of both addiction and love. Fatalism builds the strenght of the relationship. It is the concrete pillar that fortify the relationship. There are many symbols that try to underlie this. The tatooed names of the loved ones. The lockers on bridges in many cities. The staues and so on. The ideal of love strong and solid as a stone that cannot be neither broken, nor changed.

In my current job, I work with people who struggle with both love and addiction. We visit families where someone is, was, or looks like addicted and in our dialogue with them, love can more easily come into life again. In other words, we want to use the power of addiction and redirect it into the power of love.

So when I hear the questions above, my "inner translator“ offers me different possibilities of translation, like this:

„Am I addicted?“ as „Who am I?“

„Is he an addict?“ as „How can I love him?“

„Do I already have an addiction?“ as „How do I relate to myself?“

I don´t offer these questions to my clients, I keep them for myself. They lead my curiosity and help to build compassionate relationships with my clients.

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