What is addiction?
Addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity. Addiction can be applied to practically anything whether it's a drug, alcohol, gambling, love, sex, coffee, cigarettes, exercise, porn, food, music, movies, material things or even money.
According to the medical world, it is a chronic medical disease that is treatable and it involves complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. It is the use substances or engagement in behaviors that become compulsive and repetitious despite the harmful consequences in which one becomes an addict and has an addiction.
I admit it. I have an addiction. I believe its in my DNA. I've been addicted to several things and I have a tendency to not have any control over them. I have several addictions to say the least. I am addicted to cigarettes, women, love & sex and money. I never knew I was an addict until I looked into the mirror and realized I was one. Although my addictions have pushed me to the limits of mental & financial stress, I still continue to be an addict.
I trace my past history to try to determine when and how I became an addict and to understand how I got here.
I believe my first addiction started when I was around 5 years old. I was addicted to chewing gum. When I started chewing gum (Chiclets), I loved the sweet taste of sugar on my tongue and as I chewed the gum it’s flavor would mix with my saliva and it would have this sweet taste that was unforgettable. I would chew the gum until the flavor disappeared, swallow it or throw it away and then I would grab a new piece of gum and repeat the process. I would chew any brand of gum besides Chiclets. There were other brands I would chew over the years such as Wrigley’s Spearmint, Juicy Fruit, Big Red, Bazooka Joe, Bubble Yum, Fruit Stripe. This addiction of wanting to chew gum to experience that sweet taste continued through my teen years. By that time my addiction had faded and I was moving into another addiction.
It was 1983 and I was 13 years old, I remember going to the movies to watch the film - Risky Business. I was fascinated with story of the main character high schooler Joel (Tom Cruise) and his ambitions, whether it was making money and learning on how be an entrepreneur or finding a way to get laid. The part of making money captured my attention but as for the latter storyline part of the movie - that will come later in this article. I started delivering a local community newspaper and I would start saving my earnings which consisted of tips. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and make money just like what I saw in the movie. I continued to work odd jobs and tasks just to earn some money. I would try to find coins around the house and place them in a jar or piggy bank just to feel how heavy it was and see how much it would increase in size. I bought a financial budgeting program for my computer so I could easily track the budgeting and cash flow of my money. I even started to follow the stock market, pick random stocks out the newspaper and try to predict what the price would be. By the time I started working in a part time job in the retail industry, this idea of having money in my pocket became my vice.
While I was in college, I started to make more money thru a part time internship that later became a full-time job. And that was when I discovered - credit cards. This idea of ‘buy now - pay later’ was intriguing to me. I became addicted to having this 'invisible' money that only existed on paper . I would start to open up new credit cards just so I could purchase whatever I wanted at the time, whether it was shoes, clothes, electronics, music etc. My assumption was that I thought of it as 'free' money. My addiction continued and grew as I started earning a salary and working in a professional field full-time. At that time, I was making more money than I ever dreamed of and so I started putting some of it into a 401k account. But, my addiction of money had a consequence - I was spending money I did not have and I became obligated to the growing credit card debt with high interest. By the time, I was married, my wife at the time was fiscally responsible when it came to money. She knew about my situation and helped me control my spending habits. Soon after my divorce, the cycle started again after my divorce, I had spent my entire retirement savings worth $70,0000. I had spent it all - it was gone. I was broke. I was unemployed for a few months and then I had found my dream job and I had to start saving in my 401k all over again. I had cleared all my previous credit card debt of $52,000. To this day my addiction of money still exists, I am back in debt and scraping by month to month. This never ending cycle of credit card debt and the addiction to money has caught up to me once again.
I remember when I was around 10 years, every once and awhile I would be at my best friend’s house and I would always see his dad smoking cigarettes and sometimes a pipe. The smoke never bothered me. I always remembered the strong smell of the burning tobacco. Years later by the time I was 18th, my brother as well as my sister would smoke cigarettes and their friends. During that time I started to smoke as well. When I was working part time at a catalog showroom retail store, we would be smoking while working in the warehouse. The older I became, the more I smoked. I didn’t know exactly why but it felt normal to me. I remember listening my favorite band The Smiths and I heard the song, ‘What She Said’. I remember hearing the lyric, “What she said :"I smoke 'cause I'm hoping for an early death and I need to cling to something!”. For some reason I could relate to the line - ‘and I need to cling to something’. For me the cigarette was that something I needed to cling onto. It was my comfort vice. I was an addicted smoker as I would spend money on a new pack of cigarettes whenever I was down to my last cigarette. Years later it continues to this day.
I’ve always had an addiction to women since I was young, I noticed that I always loved woman who were beautiful in my eyes. I was intrigued to see the naked form of a woman’s body and it always turned me on. During my teen years thru my early 20’s - I never had actual sex with a woman. I reached to 2nd or 3rd base on some occasion(s) but I never went around all the bases - if you know what I mean. I was always considered to be the nice guy. A shy and nerdy guy when it came to the opposite sex. Girls whom I was attracted to never saw me as a candidate in any way. I was always the nice guy. The nice guy who finished last.
By the time I was in my mid 20’s to early 30’s, I started venturing out to the local strip clubs. The strip club was my entertainment of choice. I suddenly became an addict and it became an addiction. My high school friends and I would go out to the strip club at least 3 to 4x a week. We would drink, watch strippers and get table or lap dances. I was able to let go of all my shy inhibitions. Whenever I went to a club, I had this alter ego as this cool, slick good looking nerdy guy with a sense of bad boy style. It became easy for me to talk to the strippers. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was the thrill of carrying a bunch of singles in my wallet because I was already addicted to money or the ideal fantasy of having a lap dance from a beautiful girl. I even wrote a novel called ‘Warm, Beautiful Woman’, which ended up being a semi-autobiographical concept novel about a character searching for that warm, beautiful woman whether she existed in his head or in his life. My addiction to women continues to this day as I communicated with beautiful women on Onlyfans or online.
As a young teenager growing up, I would always find myself in a position where I would see always see friends of mine being in some form of a relationship. I became jealous as they would be able to celebrate Valentine’s Day or any other occasion in which giving gifts to their girlfriends was a common gesture. I, on the other hand would always be singled out. Girls liked me as a friend but never as a boyfriend. It was a self-confidence issue. I never had a serious relationship, although at age 13 I had experienced going out with a girl I knew. But that only lasted two weeks. She ended up breaking up with me.
After that experience I was addicted to love. I guess it was that feeling of being loved and wanted that encapsulated me. I wanted to have the girlfriend experience that my friends had and were experiencing. As my twenties arrived I had several dates with other women. Most of those experiences ended where they would only like me as a friend. By the end of my late twenties, I actually had met someone when I attended a friend’s wedding overseas. This girl I had met had quickly fallen in love with me. I was overwhelmed as I had never experienced this kind of love before. We spent a few days together and we ended up having a long distance relationship.
As time moved on, I ended the relationship. It wasn’t until a few years later in which I ended up another long distance relationship. This time around I stuck with it and I ended up getting engaged a year later and then getting married. We were married for 9 years and then she ended it. I was devastated and I was broken. I needed time to heal so I saw a therapist to help get thru this divorce. When I saw my therapist, she told me to read the book, “Addiction To Love” by Susan Peabody. After reading it, I realized I was addicted to love and that I couldn’t overcome my self realization of being dependent on her (my ex-wife). I wasn’t giving her any space and my whole life ended up revolving around her. It opened my eyes. After my divorce, I ended up meeting other women in which I had short relations with them. I wasn’t addicted to love anymore.
Today, I find myself involved with a woman, in which the connection between us is more of being non-committal and undefined. We love and care for each other but we don’t define what we have. That’s the beauty of it as I have no longer have an addiction to love and being dependent on her. I just became addicted to her.
The first time I had sex with a woman was with my ex-wife. Our relationship started as a long distance relationship so we had to find ways using technology to experience our desire for one another. By the time we were physically together as a married couple, we had a very good sex life early on. When we had our only child, our sex life had changed a little but it was still considered healthy. By the time our marriage was in trouble and was near it's end, our sex life had decreased. I ended up back at the strip club to fill my desire. The combination of having an addiction to money and women only made it worse. I couldn’t control myself as I have seemed to spend thousand of dollars on different women just to fulfill my sexual desire. My desire for sex still continues to this day whether its’ virtual or physical and as a result I am still addicted to sex in some sort of way.
When you become an addict, you lose control of your life. You have no sense of reality. It’s very hard to break the cycle of addiction. I have many and it’s complicated. I just have learn how to deal with my addictions and overcome them. I am still an addict to this day whether it’s cigarettes, women, love or sex. Honestly, my addictions are real.