Understanding How Addiction Hijacks Rationality
Addiction Hijacks our “semi-rational” thoughts to justify ego desires.
The simplest way to put this is to tell a story.
Dealing with Cravings
I remember working with a client. He was about a week sober, had gotten out of detox from opioids. He was a week sober and still somewhat obsessed about using heroin.
He very earnestly approached me as a counselor at the time. He said, “Can I talk to you for a little bit?” I said, “Sure.”
We went back in my office, and he said, “I’m craving. I really want to use heroin, you know, will you help me?”
I said, “Well, tell me what your plan is. How are you– let’s lay it out. How are you going to go use heroin?”
Semi-Rational Plan to Use
He said, “Well, I go to Inglewood. I’m going to get some heroin.”
I said, “Slow down. Do you have any money on you right now?”
He said, “Yeah, I got 10 bucks.”
“Well, first of all, give me that 10 bucks.” I took that 10 bucks. Then I said, “So, how are you going to get ahold of your dealer?”
And he said, “I’m going to call him.” I said, “Do you have a cell phone?” He said, “No. You like picked up on my game, right?” And I said, “Okay, well now, if you don’t have a cell phone, how are you going to call the dealer?”
He said, “We go to the gas station, and I’m going to call him.” I said, “But you don’t have any money.” He said, “Well, I’ll panhandle and then I’ll call my drug dealer.”
I said, “Okay. So, we’re going to walk to the gas station on the corner over there. You’re going to call your drug dealer. He’s going to come drop it off.”
He said, “No. My dealer doesn’t deliver. I got to go to Inglewood. I got to get there. So, I’m going to take the bus.”
I said, “Okay. So, you’re going to take the bus to Inglewood and you’re going to meet your dealer. Where?” “There’s Burger King in Inglewood.”
I said, “Okay. And then what?”
“So, I’m going to use.”
“So, where are young going to use?”
He said, “I’m going to use in the Burger King bathroom.”
I said, “With what?”
He said, “With foil and a straw.”
I said, “Okay. So, using in a Burger King bathroom. And then what are you going to do?”
He said, “I’m going to be high.”
I said, “Okay. And then what?”
And then he said, “I’m going to come home.”
I said, “Yeah. You’re going to go back to your mom and dad’s?”
And he said, “No. They kicked me out. I’m going to come back here.”
“Okay, so you’re going to go use at the Burger King. You’re going to get high in the bathroom. You are going to catch the bus back after you’re high. You’re going to come back to this treatment program. And then what are you going to do?”
He said, “Then I’m going to get sober.”
Addiction Hijacks the Mind’s Rational Thought
And I, of course, you know, I said, “But you’re sober now. You’re already there. You don’t have to do the loop de loop.”
And he looked at me, and he said, “Yeah, but when I’m high, I really want to be sober.”
And I said, “Okay, so what I hear you saying is that in order for you to get and stay sober, you have to get high again.”
He said, “Yeah.”
Semi Rational Reasoning
The ego self had basically taken the rational ability and created a little narrative and story that makes semi-sense.
But obviously, if you use that rationale in your life, you’d never get sober, right? Because every time I try to get sober, I have to get high and be motivated to get sober again. You just do that rinse and repeat, over and over. It’s actually what a lot of people do.
The Ego and Justifications
The ego self can hijack the rationale to create justifications.
It’s a reality. And with this particular person, he actually did it. He didn’t do it that night. But a couple of days later, he left, and incredibly he was right. He got high at Burger King.
We ended up referring him to a program out of town. And he’s, I think, sober eight, nine years now. So, he happened to be right. But it’s not a good equation as to how to get clean. As an example of how the ego self can hijack the rationale in order to create justifications to continue to enable addiction.