Addiction can be compared to a smartphone app.
Like most Americans nowadays, I have a smartphone that I rely on to get through the technical aspects of my day. My calendar keeps track of my appointments and reminds me of them; my contacts keep track of phone numbers and addresses, and I even log my food into a daily meal tracker to make sure I’m staying on target with nutritional goals. New apps to help us meditate, write stories, and do our math homework are rolled out seemingly every week. We download apps that might assist us in our everyday lives, and we delete apps that have been pushed to the back page when they are no longer relevant or when we find a newer app that works better for the task at hand. Occasionally, I will delete an app and find I miss it. I once deleted my hotel finder app because we hadn’t taken a trip in months, only to find myself on the road and needing to find a safe place to stay quickly. In the app store, my account remembered that I once had this app and I was able to tap just one button to restore it to my phone, quickly enabling me to weed out the questionable chains and find one that (I hope!) was bed bug-free.
Let’s think about addiction using this smartphone metaphor.
I’ve yet to encounter any person who woke up one morning from a healthy life and said, “I think I will start a heroin addiction today,” and then followed a plan to get there. Instead, people usually encounter things or situations that they are unsure of how to handle without some form of outside help. Whether the need is to find a safe hotel, escape the stress or agony of a current situation, combat loneliness or depression, the process is the same.
People search their mental “app store” for something that looks like a solution. Maybe someone they know suggests a “solution” in the form of alcohol or a pill. One quick suggestion or “double-tap” and the proposed “solution” is uploaded to the brain, where it is tried out in whatever real-life scenario they need. You may find the suggested app is buggy and makes you feel worse; it’s quickly deleted and never tried again whereas for others, it is the exact right thing that works for them and their operating system, it is a 5-star rated application that will often be visited. The idea is the same either way— popping a pill, snorting a line, taking a drink or “shooting” something is seen as a cure rather than the creation of a problem. The app is accessed and the issue “out there” or inside us seems to be temporarily relieved. This solution is the best some can find with the understanding they have at the time, so naturally, the “using” app gets opened or stays open often.
Just as an app is not part of our smartphone’s operating system, neither is the app or the “solution” a part of our operating system that is hardwired into us at birth. Sure, the “using” application is more compatible with some people’s “operating system” than others, mostly depending on biological components and how they view their life and themselves. Healthy babies are not born with the “Addiction” app pre-loaded, just waiting for the day it can be accessed and start a downward spiral, never to be overcome.
What one of the biggest points the disease model advocates say is that even when made aware that the once perceived “solution,” drugs and/or alcohol, is now the problem, “addicts” continue to use, and that “recovered” addicts can relapse at any time. The issue here again can be explained with the smartphone analogy. Once a person has downloaded the app, even if it is deleted, there is still a file in the memory bank that says, “This app was useful once.” The “using” app can stay there, forever untouched, as long as it is never considered a viable option that may be needed again, not even for a split second. Just like the idea that an individual would never think to download MySpace again now that the system has been updated with Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.
Without the attention or awareness that it could once again be a solution, the “using” app will never spontaneously just upload itself to one’s brain in the same way that Flappy Birds will never re-upload itself to a phone…with time, using drugs and alcohol itself becomes something that no longer makes sense and is simply no longer a part of someone’s life. Would someone continually use apps that didn’t work for them or try to play a game in version 1.0 when version 27.5 is already out? Of course not! As people update their “operating system” with the awareness of who they really are and what they really need in life, old apps or habits no longer get the job done and fall away. Awareness shifts to the fact that one’s mind, body, and spirit is perfectly designed to work in harmony with one another for the best experience of human life possible. No longer are update warnings ignored when someone’s body is telling them to slow down, sleep, or let go of that part of their ego that is harmful. Awareness shifts to and exclusively accesses the things that make a person stronger, happier, and healthier. And all one has left to do is live a great life and find a good hotel for the night to rest after a fantastic day.
Gulf Breeze Recovery knows that people are not smartphones, and wants to remind its readers that this is a simple metaphor for a seemingly complex problem. Find out why Gulf Breeze Recovery is a leader in addiction recovery and how they can help you, or your loved one delete the apps that are no longer working and find new ones that can lead you to a richer more fulfilled life.
We don’t want you to have just a great recovery. We want you to have a great life!
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