The first thing that comes to mind when I think about explaining my addiction to a normie is the movie, Memento. If you haven’t seen it, I’ll just tell you this (no spoilers): it’s about a guy (played by actor Guy Pearce) who sustains a brain injury when intruders break into his home one night and pistol whip him, leaving him unconscious while they ransack his house and murder his wife. OK, just follow me a moment. That’s not the part that describes my experience of addiction, although, I guess it could be a metaphor of how crazy and miserable my years spent in active addiction were.
But I digress. Pearce’s brain injury results in a condition that leaves him unable to form new memories and so he must take copious notes about his daily goings-on because he simply can’t remember anything. One of his famous lines in the movie is, “I have this condition, you see…”
This leads me to why I even brought up this movie. When trying to explain what addiction is to people who do not have the disease, I think about Pearce’s character and his oft-spoken line about his “condition.”
“I have this condition, you see, that renders me unable to drink or take anything mood or mind altering.” That’s one way to put it.
The Memento reference is two-fold for me; I actually do struggle with some memory deficits as a result of PAWS. And, just like the protagonist, I have to make notes, usually in my smart phone calendar – what a great tool! – so that I don’t double-book commitments and such. My calendar, however, does not save me from the embarrassing social faux pas of forgetting having met someone and not just once but, twice before. It’s times like these that I have to try to explain my addiction to a normie so that they don’t feel hurt or slighted by the fact that I don’t remember them. I usually try to reassure them by intentionally using that cliché, “it’s not you, it’s me” followed up by, “I have this condition, you see.”
Back to the topic of how to explain your addiction to a normie. You can say several other things. You can simply say “I’m in recovery from substance abuse.”
You can tell them that you are in recovery from drug addiction and then go on to explain what the disease of addiction is. And that’s a whole other can of worms. There are several working definitions of the term addiction.
One is that it’s a “physical allergy, a mental obsession, and a spiritual malady.”
Addiction is also a “chronic, relapsing, progressive disorder.”
Another is that it’s a “disease of perception.”
And yet another is to say that addiction is an obsession (thoughts) and compulsion to act on those thoughts to the point that the behavior – drug use, internet use, gaming, gambling, sex – negatively impacts your life to an extreme point, costing you to lose relationships, jobs, money, and even your freedom.
All of these are ways on how to explain your addiction to a normie. Ultimately, though, it comes down to how you perceive your addiction as well as to whom you are explaining it. And, it’s your choice whether you even want to try to explain anything to anyone.
I may have a sense of humor about my experiences post-addiction but substance abuse and drug addiction are truly no laughing matter. If you are struggling with one or both of these medical conditions or if you suspect that someone you love is suffering, please call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135. We have Addiction Specialists available around the clock to field your questions as well as share helpful resources regarding treatment for substance abuse and addiction. You are not alone. Addiction affects as many as 1 in 3 people.