Ending Addiction: Beginning of the Addiction Exchange

Welcome to our first blog on ending addiction. When I say “our” blog, I mean a blog that belongs to both the readers and creators of the blog. I am glad to be here (subject of our next blog) and I hope you are glad to be here as well.

I view addiction as what we value most that has gone awry.  No matter what we do to change it into the good thing that it use to be, the object of our addiction continues to be a bad thing in our life and we are not treating our addiction as the bad thing that it has become.

Addiction became my passion incrementally. It started when I returned from my clinical internship and Peter Ossorio, my mentor, asked me to choose an easy topic for my Ph.D. thesis at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Since I had successfully treated people with serious problems over the years, I believed that it would be easy to help smokers  stop smoking.  I discovered that treating smoking addiction or any addiction was anything but easy; I was intrigued by the challenge.  I completed my thesis on Smoking Addiction: A Descriptive Psychology Conceptualization and Test, nine years later just hours before the university deadline, i.e., if I had not handed my thesis in that Friday afternoon by four PM, I would not be a psychologist today.

In the beginning, I attempted to exorcise  addiction from people by convincing them that it was in their best interest to do so. I later attempted to change their motivation in favor of doing what was good for them rather than continue to do what was bad for them. This approach only worked at any given time when their motivational balance for not smoking was greater than their motivation to smoke.

Finally, I realized that if a person changed his or her identity from addict to non-addict, e.g., from a smoker to a nonsmoker, his or her addiction would end. The addiction would only resume if the person became reinfected with another addiction.  It is similar to getting over a cold, the next time we catch a cold, we treat the current cold as being different from the last cold.   I view nonsmokers as  a people  for whom the consumption of  nicotine has no personal value for them. Once people really achieve the status of nonaddicts, it would take something extraordinary for them to become addicts again.  This is in contrast to people  who stops using,  who still values the object of their addiction, and who  continue to have problems not indulging themselves in  the object of their addiction, e.g., a “dry drunks”.

The people that I worked with began to achieve breakthroughs in identity transformation and ending their addictions when they were able to give mastering their addiction high priority. It continued to be a struggle for them and to achieve this status, however, once they achieved being a nonaddict and they no longer desired to engage in addictive behavior, they had little or problems in maintaining their nonaddictive behavior.

Peter Ossorio reminded me at the time that people don’t choose less behavior potential (behavior possibilities) over more behavior potential.   Finally,  I discovered that if people really exchanged their addiction (less behavior potential) for the life they always wanted to live (more behavior potential) most of them signed and sealed the bargain as one made in “heaven” and they experienced substantially less struggle in ending their addiction.

This is how the Addiction Exchange came to be.

If you have taken a stand for ending addiction, let us know how your stand came to be.

Hope this post helps.

May 2010