I’ve borrowed the phrase, ‘addictive pattern’ after reading Russell Brand’s book, “Recovery,” in which he describes his struggles with a range of addictions. He started with food, and progressed later to alcohol, various drugs, sex, and porn. He switches from one to another when giving examples of a particular addictive behavior or experience.
And throughout, Brand uses the term ‘addictive pattern,’ which I liked, because I know how easy it is to switch addictions. Even so, I managed to avoid doing that, and instead, worked hard enough to become really proficient in my particular addiction — binge-eating and junk food consumption. Not that I wasn’t tempted to venture astray.
As a university freshman still in my teens, I had a chance to become an alcoholic. I attended a party, downed one lovely screwdriver (orange juice and vodka, for the uninitiated) and was told to make my own from then on. So I filled a large tumbler three-quarters full of vodka, topped it with juice and guzzled that quite quickly. I don’t recall much after that. A friend drove me home, and as I sat on my dorm room bed, I could feel the room spin. The next thing I knew, it was morning, and I felt great! No hangover, no problem. I realized then and there that my body had a tolerance for alcohol, and that I’d better stay away from it. My intuition told me I had enough trouble with food, stealing money to get it, obsessing over my ever-increasing weight and my absolute inability to stop binge-eating. l knew in my bones to keep away from alcohol, even in my extremely messed up and confused state.
The addictive pattern is to use any substance or behavior or combo thereof to help you avoid dealing with something in your life. You can stop drinking, overeating, gambling, etc., but unless you deal with what’s underneath, with what’s driving your particular train, then you are likely to start using something else. Perhaps work – one of the sanctioned and acceptable addictive patterns around.
The addictive pattern means you keep trying to use that particular substance or behavior or combination to satisfy something in you that actually cannot be satisfied by more of the substance, behavior, or combo. There wasn’t enough liquor in the universe to satisfy Brand’s needs. There weren’t enough drugs, or sexual encounters. And for me, there would never be enough sugar or junk food to do the trick. But Brand kept on trying. As did I.
And that is the definition of an addictive pattern. Do you have one?