Addiction – What it means to me (part 2)

In my last post I started writing about my own addiction and what personality traits I felt had contributed towards my becoming an addict. I wrote about greed, avoidance of problems, instant gratification and laziness. I’ve been thinking about this and there are a few more which seem relevant:

  • Self obsession – this manifested in a number of ways of which extreme self-consciousness is the most obvious. I was always hyper-aware of what people thought of me and how people saw me – my ears stuck out, my hair was too fine – and, as a result of this, I developed a real phobia about people watching me doing things, particularly things involving using my hands. It started when I was about 16 and working in Heysham Village Co-op (long gone) at a time when, after serving a customer, you had to write out a little slip of paper showing what they had spent which they saved up to earn dividend (at that time 9d – about 4p in the pound). One day I became very self-conscious about a customer watching me do this and my hands began to shake. I made an excuse and went in the back of the shop to write the slip. This led to a long period where I tried to avoid situations where someone could watch me doing something with my hands – eating and drinking in cafes, writing etc. It was then that I discovered that drinking alcohol would reduce these difficulties. A couple of years later I was on the dole and had to sign on regularly at Morecambe unemployment office where, of course, I had to sign my name. Somehow I realised that if I bought a quarter bottle of vodka (and some mints) before signing on and drank it in one of the shelters on Morecambe prom, I could then go and sign on without any problem. Of course this is also an example of finding ways to avoid dealing with a problem, something which, in the end, leads to more and more problems.

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Addiction – What it means to me (part 1)

My name is Kevin and I am an addict. There! It’s said.

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Alright, it’s not the most up to date photo. But it is me. The interesting question is, was I an addict even then, before I had even heard of alcohol and drugs, never mind tried them? And am I an addict now, even though it is over 30 years since I had a drink of alcohol or chewed up a few valium (I used to chew them because I thought they might work faster)?

Are addicts born? Or made? Once an addict always an addict? Does addiction even exist, or is it just the excuse people make when they continue to take too much?

For the last 15 or so years (I’m retired now) I was a drug and alcohol trainer with the NHS, training nurses, doctors, teachers and others about drugs and alcohol – what they are, what they do, their relative harmfulness, how to tell if someone is using drugs, how to assess drug and alcohol use and what to do with people who have problems with them. I still do some work in this area but, as I am now in my late sixties, this has reduced over the last couple of years. But I still don’t have definitive answers to those questions. Does anybody? Continue reading

Enthusiasm(s)

I was thinking about what I do with my life and realised that it goes in phases, phases of enthusiasm for one thing and another.

At the moment it’s e-books. I love reading (a continuing enthusiasm which has never left me) and when I discovered e-readers it was like the answer to a prayer. Instead of carting around a book, usually in a coat pocket or a shoulder bag, I could take all the books I needed, or thought I needed, in a nice, neat little package, always ready to open at the page I was on. I won’t tell you how many e-books I have (it’s a lot!) and my enthusiasm at the moment is having all the ones I want to read on my Kobo Aura (love it!) and have them sorted into categories – fiction, non-fiction, science, sf, fantasy, music, films, literature etc. I use Calibre, a free ebook catalogue programme where I can sort them, categorise, download covers and lots of other nifty things. It’s my favourite computer programme (not an app, apps are for mobile phones) and an example to a lot of commercial software companies of how to write a programme that is elegant, useful and, all in all, a pleasure to use.

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Calibre – my favourite programme

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