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Drug users need more choices at addiction treatment facilities

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1520 (Published 22 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1520

Re: Drug users need more choices at addiction treatment facilities

Addiction is a bad bargain with imaginary gains (euphoria) and real losses (sickness). Euphoria is a false, fleeting sense of well-being that makes addicts feel “high” and masks the sustained sickness of addiction. Even worse, the euphoria and sickness of addiction are polar opposites that reinforce each other and trap addicts in a vicious cycle that is unique to each and every addiction. For example:
1. Sugar creates the euphoria of feeling sweet, but the sickness of being bitter.
2. Chocolate creates the euphoria of feeling love, but the sickness of being love-starved.
3. Vanilla creates the euphoria of feeling happy, but the sickness of being sad.
4. Cola creates the euphoria of feeling hydrated, but the sickness of being dehydrated.
5. Caffeine creates the euphoria of feeling energetic, but the sickness of being lethargic.
6. Alcohol creates the euphoria of feeling relaxed, but the sickness of being uptight.
7. Tobacco creates the euphoria of feeling aerated, but the sickness of being suffocated.
8. Analgesics create the euphoria of feeling pain-free, but the sickness of being hypersensitive to pain.
9. Hallucinogens create the euphoria of feeling wise, but the sickness of being confused.
10. Gambling creates the euphoria of feeling lucky, but the sickness of being unlucky.

The euphoria of addiction is a false heaven, but the sickness of addiction is a real hell. As a result, addiction is a deadly paradox. The more you know it, the more it fools you; the more you use it, the more it controls you; and the more you enjoy it, the more it hurts you.

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 March 2013
Hugh Mann
Physician
Retired
Eagle Rock, MO, USA