Addicted to …

No, Ark, not Robert Palmer, addicted to love.

But rather, drugs, alcohol, gambling, and perhaps one can add, shopping and work.

I’ll leave it to scientists to continue arguing about what causes addiction, instead I’d like to consider our reactions to people who have an addiction to … whatever.

Gambling

I’ve met very few gamblers. But sadly, one of them was a boy from prep school, in my class from Kindergarten, aged 4. His birthday was two days after mine, and we caught the bus home together. I got off the bus before him, and frequently left my regulation school beret behind. Next morning, he would return it, having safely retrieved it and taken it home with him.

Fast forward a lot of years, and we’re both visiting a local pub. It was one of our locals, although obviously not his. But it was rather trendy. And very twee, in an old beamed, low ceiling, tiny windows sort of way.

Whether I accompanied my parents or not, he always acknowledged them, and was respectful. His father owned some type of business dealing in leather coats, as far as I recall. My good kind schoolpal worked for his dad, and stole the coats to sell them to fund his gambling at the casino in Leeds. I was gutted when I heard this. Truly utterly gutted. The info was from a reliable source: his sister.

Why, would a young man, who came from an affluent family (lived in one of the two best streets in town), had a good private education, turn to gambling, and steal from his family to do that? Maybe because he didn’t cut it academically, when siblings did? I don’t know.

But moving onto a different type of gambling, Australia’s famous pokies.

World’s biggest gamblers

Armed robbery to fund pokies

We knew someone in Sydney who was banned by his wife from using the pokies. Nice guy. He still did it though.

It’s here in Gib too. We know people who will put in more than £100 and then go and get money from the cash machine to put in even more. Where is the sense in that?

Partner chucked in a fiver once to a group play, and someone won £200. Shared out, that was £40 each, less £5 = £35 profit.

The rest of them put the money back in, but Partner hung onto his £35.

Gib, has a gambling culture.

Drugs

Friends at school starting smoking dope. I was banned from a planned Saturday night at a trendy club because my mate’s parents had heard about Evil! Drugs! at Chiaroscuro. I was devastated. So the place to go. Never did get there.

For those who hadn’t done soft drugs at school, there was always university. Or travelling round the world. But I went better than Bill Clinton, I never touched it at all. Maybe comes of being a non-smoker.

What I did enjoy were legal medicinal drugs in hospital. Oh yes. Morphine? A dream. In fact it felt like a dream as I drifted out of body and looked down on myself, as I floated happily betwixt body and ceiling.

The next day, I asked for more nice painkillers (this was the first ankle op, nearly 40 years ago). Sadly, nurses were clearly wised up to potential young druggies and I got something utterly boring. I didn’t ask for it after that.

Readers of roughseas will have read about attempts to force feed me paracetamol when I was in hospital last year and didn’t even have any pain.

But post-op, the spliced ankle had the odd twinge or two. Or more. Nurses explained to me that I could ask for pain med. There were some analgesics but if it was bad, there was … morphine. Or if the analgesics didn’t work, there was … morphine. Mmmmm. I took the analgesics and left Class One alone. They worked anyway. Tempted? Very.

As I lay in my bed, I listened to the muffled conversation in the bed next door. The woman, who’d had breast surgery, sounded in agony. A helpful relative pointed out that she didn’t want to take morphine, it was addictive. Yeah, well, if I’d had my breast lopped off and it hurt, I’d go for morphine. Every. Single. Time.

But, my mediocre broken ankle wasn’t that painful. Did I want morphine? Yes? Did I need it? No. So … dear reader, that was why I refused the delicious morphine.

And also, why I haven’t done drugs. My head is whacky enough. I don’t need it skewed any more than it is. I can totally see how people get addicted to drugs. That out-of-this-world experience is amazing.

I’ll briefly touch on addiction to shopping and work. I loathe shopping. I do not understand this one. ‘Tis like gambling. Just throwing money away. For what?

Work? Yeah, along with a lot of colleagues I worked 12 hour days and longer. Addicted to work? Doubt it. Just wanted the money, and that meant doing whatever was needed.

Finally, the curse of the working classes. Drink. Or, as darling Oscar said: Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

Alcohol

I grew up with parents who drank every day. Sunday lunch involved white wine for starter, sherry for soup, white wine for fish course, red wine, usually, for main. My father had a classy wine cellar. It wasn’t a cellar but it was still classy. We had Lafite, Latour, Mouton Rothschild. We had Dom Perignon and Diament Bleu. We had white burgundies coming out of our ears. These weren’t bottles. These were all cases.

When my father died, I told my mother it was time for us to open their last bottle of champagne. Or nearly last, or something. Because that was their hedonistic life. And that was how to best remember him.

But, while good/fine wine with a meal is nice, I loathe the drinking culture. The lads at football matches. Men in the pub together. Just. No. Men coming home for meals late. Pissed. Abusing women. The chat with the male mates over ‘a few beers’ beats spending time with a wife? Don’t get married.

Some years ago, I heard of the term functioning alcoholic. In a derogatory sense, of course.

While I don’t think drinking endless vodka, smoking cigarettes and dope and eating little food is a bright idea, if people function like that, who am I to say?

I’ve met more than one person who’s done that.

Recently, a friend was having problems. Strange outbreaks of what looked like acid burns on his legs. The doctor said he must have fallen into something, because our friend was living on a boat.

Partner went down to visit him. ‘Fuck off!’ He said. So Partner did.

He was later admitted into hospital and put on kidney dialysis. There is only one machine in Gib, or so we have been told. So every time someone else needed it, he was taken off. His kidneys didn’t recover.

In fact, not just his kidneys were shot, his liver wasn’t too healthy either.

He was a nice bloke. He never said a bad word about anyone nor did he harm anyone. His funeral service was packed.

But, some people criticised and judged him. He drank too much. Well yes, he did drink half a bottle of vodka a day. Who are we to judge?

On the back of his neck was tattooed, che sera sera.

And, whatever, happened. He enjoyed his life and it was, what it was. No judgement.

And this is my point. He lived his life as he chose. Don’t judge.

The same for people who choose drugs, or gambling, or, shopping, or work, or just anything.

Don’t judge when you haven’t been there.

Don’t judge. At all.

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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48 Responses to Addicted to …

  1. So long as their addiction (including religion/gods) isn’t harming others.

    Like

    • I didn’t mention religion. Although I thought about it. Addictions do harm others, without a doubt. My point here was more about, please just don’t judge, condemn, whatever. Otherwise, do something …

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      • Indeed. Sometimes people can’t do anything other than educate themselves on the causes of addictive behavior.

        “If you understand addiction in the broader sense we see that nothing in itself is addictive. No substance, no drug is by itself addictive and no behavior is by itself addictive. Many people can go shopping without becoming shopaholics. Not everyone becomes a food addict. Not everyone who drinks a glass of wine becomes an alcoholic. So the real issue is: what makes people susceptible? Because it’s the combination of a susceptible individual and the potentially addictive substance or behavior that makes for the full flowering of addiction. In short, it’s not the drug that’s addictive, it’s the question of the susceptibility of the individual to being addicted to a particular substance or behavior.”

        Gabor Maté, a Canadian physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction

        Liked by 1 person

  2. @RSitM

    ” instead I’d like to consider our reactions to people who have an addiction to … whatever.”

    It is so easy to make the wrong assumptions when you interact with addicted people. Our societies tend to hold a rather antediluvian set of prescriptions when it comes to people who have addictions, much to their and society’s detriment.

    Your post dovetails with some interesting literature about addiction by Gabor Maté. I excerpted some interesting bits on my blog.

    John Hari on Addiction – Isolating Addicts isn’t the Answer.
    Trauma, Stress, Addiction – Gabor Maté

    Liked by 1 person

      • Arb, we were on the same wavelength. I didn’t see your comment until after I posted mine. I look forward to reading your post.

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      • I could not reply on your post as the option wasn’t available. I wanted to say that I haven’t read Mate’s book that you quoted from, but I have read a good bit of his research while on my quest to gain greater knowledge about human behavior other than the uneducated, inhumane pat answers of mainstream religion which have impacted societies views on addictive behavior.

        Like

    • Thanks for the links to your posts Arb. I obviously missed those earlier this year, or, I’ve forgotten them (!) – but I suspect I was offline. I can see the isolation theory being valid (qv the rats) but as Ruth said on one post, not all the time, and not in all cases. It’s very complex, and I have no insight apart from watching others. Victoria’s comment regarding religion was a good one, again religion escapes from being categorised as an addiction, yet what do people do? Spend time and money on it – to what purpose? Just a different feel-good factor. And, again considering the social aspect, it can stop an isolated person feeling alone and bring a rat pack cohesion. Trouble is, in this case, to maintain pack identity, one needs to maintain the addiction. Very clever …

      Liked by 1 person

  3. EllaDee says:

    Our worlds aren’t far removed in many ways. I can cite similar examples. Interesting you mention Australia and gambling. On Saturday we were at the local shops and encountered a Reclaim the Streets demonstration. One of the issues was Star City [aka Shitty] Casino. In Australia the government makes a tidy sum from the misery that is caused to people’s lives by gambling. Shame. Truly blood money I think.
    And your last point really resonates. We had a close friend at TA, who sadly isn’t there to greet us when we move, and he was so looking forward to it. But his photo is in a frame on the wall of the G.O.’s shed next to the last bottle of beer he left in our fridge for when he called by. Some people seem to enjoy judging him, but not us. He was our mate.

    Like

  4. Ruth says:

    Unfortunately too many people do judge and assume that quitting such a thing is a matter of will power. Once addicted it isn’t. Of course a person has to want to give it up but many do want to and seem to have no control over it. Judging them and condemning them only makes matters worse as guilt is already a significant factor. Banning someone from any of it doesn’t work, either, as you’ve already mentioned. I’d say the only reasons to intervene in such a situation is if there is harm caused and out of genuine concern and love.

    Like

    • I admire people who do quit … anything. But I think we should all acknowledge it isn’t easy. One thing I have learned is how difficult it is to chuck religion. I still can’t comprehend it, but I at least better appreciate how hard it is. Add smoking, drinking, drugs, whatever to the list, and people deserve support and sympathy not flipping criticism.

      It reminds me of giving to homeless people. Some say ‘they’ll only spend it on cigarettes and alcohol’. Mine not to determine what they spend my donation on. It’s their life and their choice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ruth says:

        Empathy and support go much farther in helping a person than does criticism. Most people who are addicted already deal with shame(i.e. they are ashamed of their addiction). It’s a vicious cycle. They feel shame and depression so they do whatever their addiction is to feel better. When they do whatever their addiction is to feel better, once they’ve sobered up they are ashamed all over again. Wash, rinse, repeat. So giving someone a much needed shot in the arm of positivity actually goes a really long way.

        Yes, I agree about giving to homeless people. I’ve never lived on the streets. Hell, I might need a drink, too! Who am I to judge what they use it for? I’ll see if I can find it, but I read an article not too long ago that said that most homeless people buy relatively little alcohol with the money they’re given, but that many of them will buy a cheap beer and sip on it because it is an appetite suppressant and keeps them from being so hungry. Beer is cheaper than food. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree. The worst thing to do us a direct attack on whatever is the ‘addiction’. When our friend worked for my partner we hoped the wages would go towards his marina fees for the boat. They didn’t. But, his choice. And, quite frankly, if he enjoyed his last few months, who cares?

          My thoughts when I see homeless people, are, that could so easily be me, or any of us, depending what life throws at us. As for relative cheapness, guess that depends where you are. Beer IS NOT cheaper than food in Gib. Spirits are cheap. In Spain beer is cheaper. Did you read my post about the guy who died in a rubbish bin? Can’t remember. If not, I’ll link. But I think homeless people are undeservingly treated like scum.

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          • Ruth says:

            No, don’t think I read that one.

            In the U.S. beer is relatively cheap. Some spirits are cheap, too, but by quantity still more expensive than beer.

            One pastor I had, years ago, said that as part of their seminary training they had to spend an entire week living on the streets in Memphis, Tennessee in the dead of winter. After that exercise he said he always gave without judgment. His thoughts were that if he had to live on the streets without any ending timeframe he’d likely be an alcoholic. If that’s what it took for the homeless to make it through the night, to keep warm, to forget how bad it was, so be it.

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          • Link: https://cloudsmovingin.wordpress.com/2008/03/05/lifes-rubbish/

            One of our reporters on a newspaper spent a night on the street. I think he chickened out at 3am and went home to a nice warm bed.

            Like

  5. pinkagendist says:

    I find the current use of the word addiction fairly annoying. Especially the term “functioning alcoholic”. I just don’t see how something can be (logically) classified as an addiction for someone who consumes a particular substance and functions just fine. If I’m functioning well, do my work, have a relationship, have friends, and don’t endanger the lives of others, the word addiction is simply not appropriate. Are there risks involved with consuming certain substances? Absolutely. Not just alcohol, but aspirin, gmo crops, red meat- and there are also risks in sunbathing, driving a car, being a scuba diver.
    Singling out drinking is purely the result of puritan moralism. Patriarchal drinking culture is bad, but drinking can exist without it.
    I also hate those people who go around saying they can have as much fun as people who drink. No. No they cannot. Not ever. I’d rather die at 60 having wrung every last bit of juice (spirits?) I can wring out of life than living like those people with their ugly tennis shoes and stupid jogging.

    Liked by 3 people

    • violetwisp says:

      “I also hate those people who go around saying they can have as much fun as people who drink.”

      This is hilarious Pink, the comment about ‘stupid jogging’. I think I know where you’re coming from. I used to have a theory about drinking. People who have never been drunk, or who don’t regularly get drunk, have a tendency to take themselves so seriously, even when they’re being ‘funny’. I felt like alcohol (bearing in mind I didn’t start drinking till I left home at 18, being a good Christian) changed my life, my outlook. Lots of silliness, but it took me down a self-righteous peg or two, and I learned to properly laugh at myself.

      Anyway, my casual observation method of research continues to back this up. There’s a ‘stick up their arse’ attitude to all people who don’t drink. And I’m now one of them. I haven’t drunk more than one or two carefully chosen clear spirits in an evening (and those occasions very spread out) in about five years. Two reasons – I can get incredibly argumentative when I’m drunk so I don’t even enjoy it most of the time, but most importantly, I get atrocious hangovers that can wipe me out for a weekend or more if drink any more than that, and I’m not going there with two young kids to look after.

      Long comment. But my point is, I agree with you in this – you can’t have the same type of fun when you’re not drinking. But oddly enough, I find life in general more fun and I’m generally happier now that I don’t drink. And my casual observation method of research tells me that many of the people I know who regularly drink a lot are drinking to numb the parts of their life that make them scared or miserable. Not that I’m judging, because I agree with Roughseas’ conclusion. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ruth says:

        I was going to say pretty much the same thing, Violet. I think that, while I’m not a tee-totaler – I don’t get drunk, that pink and I have a different idea of what’s fun. To each his own. I don’t appreciate being judged by my ugly tennis shoes and stupid jogging. 😉

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      • Thanks Violet. Don’t tell me we agree on something?!
        Drinking and not drinking is very different. Unlike you, I don’t get argumentative, I just want to go to sleep, so a drinking roughseas is fairly peaceable. I think having children changes a lot of priorities for people, and neither Pink nor I have them, although we are responsible for dogs. Not good wandering out rat-arsed with a powerful dog on a lead.
        What gripes me about non-drinkers, especially former drinkers, is the holier than thou attitude. A bit like former smokers.
        I think I need a gin and tonic!

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      • pinkagendist says:

        Now you need to get a tent, wellies, and go to the Edinburgh festival and try ecstasy with people you’ve just met! LIFE CHANGING!!!! 😀 Just do it once!

        Like

    • Ruth says:

      Either one. I thought the first one disappeared. Sorry.

      Like

    • I read something years ago about a guy in Nepal who said if he was ill, he’d rather drink a bottle of whisky a day, living his own life, than end up in some soul-dead hospital. Alcohol has pros and cons.
      I think addiction depends on whether or not you can cope without something, surely? So, in hospital last year, there was no alcohol 😦 But, I didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms, merely an increased desire to go to the toilet every two hours at night because I was drinking so much water, which I found a gross inconvenience.
      I agree we have a puritanical society regarding alcohol. A mellow gathering with lots of bonhomie is hugely helped by alcohol as people relax and become less frigid.
      But then we have your ugly drunken rapist scenario. Was that the fault of the alcohol however, or just his feeble excuse? Who knows. But one can’t blame the alcohol for that. Merely the detritus that called himself a man.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hariod Brawn says:

      Even J.C himself got pissed Mr. M:

      “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners’. But wisdom is justified of her children(i.e. by her deeds).”

      – King James Bible

      Liked by 1 person

  6. makagutu says:

    this reads like a tribute to a friend or as others would call it a eulogy befitting a fine bloke.

    Like

  7. A good post Clouds. 🙂

    Like

  8. Sonel says:

    I agree with Victoria. As long as their addiction doesn’t harm or cause problems for others, but unfortunately most of it does. But it is as you say, it’s not for any of us to judge. It could have been anyone of us and it could have been worse. No one is perfect. 😀

    Like

    • I think it depends on the person – and the type of addiction. If it doesn’t harm others, break the law etc, then it shouldn’t be an issue. But if you look at religion, again V’s suggestion, then it does cause harm to others, see my latest post on the coathanger abortion 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sonel says:

        I agree. When it comes to heavy drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, it will harm others in the end.

        I don’t know if you can call religion and addiction, but addiction or not, religion can cause harm.

        Saw the post and I have mixed feelings about it and nothing worth mentioning.

        Liked by 1 person

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