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Is there such a thing as ‘normal’ or are we all addicts to a certain extent?

Addicts have addictive personalities and are therefore more prone to developing an addiction, whether that be with alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or a combination of vices. Right? Well, perhaps not. What if we’re all addicts in some form or another. What if there is no ‘normal’ and as humans we are simply wired for addiction?

We read a fascinating article in Forbes recently entitled ‘The Truth About Addiction: We’re All Junkies Now.’ The basic premise was that not only are we all addicts but we are all addicts all of the time and that the idea of ‘normal,’ that we have become accustomed to, could be a complete falsehood.

Is there such a thing as normal or are we all addicts to a certain extent

We filter a huge volume of information on any given day and, in which case, our notion of reality is extremely subjective – it’s our interpretation of the ‘real world.’ Furthermore, in the realms of addiction, ‘normal’ means to be off drugs and therefore without any chemical alterations. But our chemical balance is constantly in a state of flux. We live our lives in a chemically altered state.

According to Steven Kotler, the Forbes Contributor who authored the article: “Food alters our neurochemistry. Powerful emotions alter our neurochemistry. The chemicals in the air we breath (and the quality and style of our breathing) alters our neurochemistry. From a biological perspective, there is no such thing as not chemically altered. There is no baseline. There is no normal.”

And not only is there no such thing as normal, the flipside of this coin is the fact that there’s no such thing as an un-addicted person. There are no non-addicts in the world for the simple reason that the brain functions by addiction, he added.

‘Sleepwalking towards an epidemic of addiction’

It is an interesting argument. One that appears stronger still when put in the context of habits. Because the brain’s reward drug, dopamine, is the glue that reinforces a habit. “But dopamine is the same neurochemical that makes amphetamines, morphine, nicotine, cocaine, shopping, porn, sex, gambling, eating, internet use, video games, falling in love and a host of other “addictions” addictive,” added Kotler.

“And this brings us to an important downstream corollary of the truth: Since addiction is unavoidable, what we need to do is start teaching people – and arguably this should start in school, with our children – how to manage their addictions.”

Interestingly, the statistics reinforce that notion. Because according to a recent article in the Mirror the way that teenagers compulsively interact with their phones, social media and other technology, could be fuelling an addiction problem later in life.

According to the report, more than 80 per cent of teenagers said they would struggle to give up texting the most, followed by social networking, junk food and booze. Apparently, the average teen sends 17 text messages a day and checks in with social media 11 times daily.

Worryingly, it is precisely this type of compulsive behavior that bears all the traits of potential addiction in later life, according to John Dicey, of Allen Carr Addiction Clinics. He told the Mirror: “These habits, the social media and technology, are getting young people to display the hallmarks of addictions at a young age.
Unless we educate them as to the dangers of constant stimulation and consumption, we are sleepwalking towards an epidemic of addiction in the future, he added.

Port of Call conclusion

So, what is ‘normal’? Normal is a setting on a dishwasher perhaps but it doesn’t adequately describe the human condition. If we are all indeed hard-wired to give in to our physical compulsions and mental obsessions then it stands to reason that some of us will, at some point, require some form of treatment or support for addiction, possibly through treatment programme at an alcohol rehab centre. If you are concerned about your relationship with alcohol, drugs, or any other addictive behaviours, please consider speaking to Port of Call today.

Call our free phone line on 08000029010 to speak to one of specialist advisers today.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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