Mental Obsession

     Mental Obsession: Recurring thoughts or ideas that do not respond to ration or reason.

     Besides the physical allergy and the underlying spiritual illness, the other component of addiction is the presence of a mental obsession – a very unique form of insanity, and one that can manifest quite randomly and for no apparent reason. It is also otherwise non-existent except when it rears its demonic head.

     According to the Big Book, the mental obsession can manifest itself in two ways: randomly or deliberately. When we deliberately succumb to the obsession to drink or get high, we are justifying it. We suddenly believe that we have the right to get plastered because nobody feels the way we do, because our job is stressful or our boss is an asshole, because we feel anxiety or because our best friend backstabbed us, because we lost a parent prematurely or because the town we live in sucks. Whatever the case, we are convinced that we have the right to stick a needle in our arm because our lives are so much tougher than everybody else’s. We believe this even if we have a long history of using abnormally, and worse yet, even if it comes at the expense of hurting others.

     When the mental obsession hits us randomly, that is the very crux of our problem. Spontaneously going insane for no reason at all is why addicts and alcoholics cannot stay sober. This is also why you meet so many addicts and alcoholics who say they are “recovering” as opposed to “recovered.” Trust me, there is most certainly a difference. To be recovering implies that we are still struggling and are therefore subject to relapse. To be recovered implies that we no longer suffer from the mental obsession, and therefore we are sane again, and therefore we are not subject to relapse. If an addict is sane, he or she is not “in recovery.” Hell, we could go work in a bar or a meth lab, because alcohol and meth have no power over us. There are no triggers for a recovered person. They are free. Yes, it is possible to be free and to go anywhere in the world safely.

     So the random obsession occurs, yup, you got it, randomly. We are going along, it’s a perfectly beautiful day, there is nothing wrong, feelin’ fine, perhaps we’re even happy (imagine that). Then…. suddenly the thought pops into our heads that it would be a great day to crush up an OxyContin and sniff it in the bathroom. I mean why not? What’s wrong with that? These random thoughts can occur weeks, months, or even years after achieving physical sobriety. And when they do, a switch goes off. From that point on, there is no way we will NOT use. A decision has been made. Once the thought enters our head, we obsess about it and continue to obsess until we finally drink or use. And there is no getting rid of the thought. This is the insanity of it.

     The insanity is also characterized by another strange occurrence. When these random thoughts hit us, we seem to suddenly forget everything we know about our history with addiction – the fact that we cannot use normally, all the people we will hurt or lose, all the trouble we will get into, and so on. All of it just disappears. Irrational thoughts suddenly seem rational. Even though we’ve been a chronic drug addict for 15 years, arrested, committed, totalled cars, burned bridges, lost money, respect, friends and family… it suddenly seems normal and of little concern to go get high. We suddenly believe we can handle it this time. Hunh?

     So yes, the addict is nuts.

God, please remove my obsession to drink alcohol and use drugs…