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Views & Reviews

Addiction in America: in search of a fix

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39168.528021.59 (Published 29 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:697

Addiction: Imaginary Gains and Real Losses

Addiction is a bad bargain. The addict pursues imaginary gains, but suffers
real losses. The imaginary gain of addiction is euphoria, which is a false
heightened sense of well-being. The real loss of addiction is sickness.


Each addictive substance creates its own unique type of euphoria and
sickness. For each addictive substance, the unique type of euphoria and
sickness are polar opposites. For example:


1)  Alcohol creates the euphoria of confidence and relaxation, while at
the same time, alcohol creates the sickness of poor judgment and
anxiety.

2)  Tobacco creates the euphoria of easy breathing, while at the same
time, tobacco creates the sickness of suffocation.

3)  Coffee and tea create the euphoria of mental energy, while at the
same time, coffee and tea create the sickness of mental lethargy.

4)  Cola creates the euphoria of thirst-quenching, while at the same
time, cola creates the sickness of dehydration.

5)  Chocolate creates the euphoria of feeling loved, while at the same
time, chocolate creates the sickness of being love-starved.

6)  Honey and sugar create the euphoria of sweetness and peace, while
at the same time, honey and sugar create the sickness of bitterness and
anger.

7)  Marijuana creates the euphoria of wisdom, while at the same time,
marijuana creates the sickness of confusion.

8)  Methamphetamine creates the euphoria of energy and strength,
while at the same time, methamphetamine creates the sickness of exhaustion
and weakness.

9)  Pain medicine creates the euphoria of feeling healthy and pain-free,
while at the same time, pain medicine creates the sickness of being fragile
and hypersensitive to pain.


The imaginary gain (euphoria) and the real loss (sickness) of addiction
reinforce each other. Euphoria lures you into and blinds you to sickness. And
sickness increases your craving for euphoria. Ironically, addictive substances
cause and aggravate the very sickness they seem to cure. For example:


1)  The sickness created by alcohol (poor judgment and anxiety)
increases your craving for the euphoria created by alcohol (confidence and
relaxation).

2)  The sickness created by tobacco (suffocation) increases your craving
for the euphoria created by tobacco (easy breathing).

3)  The sickness created by coffee and tea (mental lethary) increases
your craving for the euphoria created by coffee and tea (mental energy).

4)  The sickness created by cola (dehydration) increases your craving
for the euphoria created by cola (thirst-quenching).

5)  The sickness created by chocolate (love-starvation) increases your
craving for the euphoria created by chocolate (feeling loved).

6)  The sickness created by honey and sugar (bitterness and anger)
increases your craving for the euphoria created by honey and sugar
(sweetness and peace).

7)  The sickness created by marijuana (confusion) increases your
craving for the euphoria created by marijuana (wisdom).

8)  The sickness created by methamphetamine (exhaustion and
weakness) increases your craving for the euphoria created by
methamphetamine (energy and strength).

9)  The sickness created by pain medicine (being fragile and
hypersensitive to pain) increases your craving for the euphoria created by
pain medicine (feeling healthy and pain-free).


The euphoria of addiction is a false heaven. The sickness of addiction is a real
hell. Addictive substances are a deadly paradox. The more you know them,
the more they fool you. The more you use them, the more they control you.
The more you enjoy them, the more they hurt you. Addiction is a funeral, not
fun.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

03 October 2007
Hugh Mann
Physician
Eagle Rock, MO 65641 USA