Don’t believe that addiction to drugs and alcohol is a myth? Well, just listen to the addicts themselves. Here’s an entertaining and inspiring speech by radio/tv personality and comedian, and addict, Danny Bonaduce. He spent 17 years on drugs and alcohol, and was in and out of rehab 28 times. He’s speaking at an East Las Vegas Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Download the mp3:
(He’s speaking under the pseudonym “Adam T”.)
In his speech he explains that the addict goes from drug to drug (alcohol, cocaine, vicodin), and then to other non-drugs such as over-eating and compulsive shopping. The person does the drug not because the drug is addictive, but because they are driven to addictive behavior in itself. He calls it ‘musical poisons’.
“The addict is driven by resentment and selfishness, and this drives them to obsession.” In his case, he describes how he is vulnerable when he feels unappreciated and ‘no one likes me’. Engaging in the addiction allows him to feel in control, like his life is manageable. It doesn’t matter if the stimulus is a drug or behavior, it serves the same purpose. It’s a desire to keep going back to some self-destructive behavior. Like many drug addicts, he is a contrarian, and does the opposite of what people tell him to. “Tell me to go right and I’ll swerve left.”
He’s been homeless, on skid row, in jail, probation, has had needle track marks from his wrist to his neck. He’s lost his wife and family. He is the epitome of a drug addict, and yet he denies there even is such a thing!
To be fair, he does believe that addiction is a disease. However, it could be an obsession with anything, such as gambling, sex, or hoarding. It is not limited to drugs. He explains that this is why treatment programs that address only drug use are doomed to fail: because they fail to understand that addiction itself is the disease. Having spent a half million dollars on rehab, he would know something about this.
He also addresses the role of the enabler with these memorable bromides:
- If you baby the addict, you’ll bury him.
- What’s the difference between a codependent and a toilet seat? The toilet seat don’t follow you around after you shit all over it.
Fortunately there is a cure to addiction, and that is: Narcotics Anonymous. If you follow the 12 steps obsessively, then you will find a cure. It works precisely because it is simply a new addiction to replace the others. In this sense the addict can never be cured, but at least he can replace the addiction with a more positive obsession, in Bonaduce’s case a belief in god. Among other NA mantras: ‘keep coming back’ and ‘the program works if you work it’. Bonaduce stresses the importance of daily observance and practice in the life of the recovering addict. He adds, “The disease of addiction is the only disease when treated that leaves the sufferer in a better position than if they never had the disease. And the only way to know that is to have the psychic change and live these 12 steps.”
If addiction really is a disease, it is also the only disease that cures itself.