What makes a person addicted?

Just a predisposition to sensitivity. The sensitivity means that there will be discomfort because you can see everybody else has a contented life. You can spot people who are contented because we’re ultra-sensitive. So I can see everybody else, why don’t I feel like this? Ah, I know, if I have a gin and tonic, by the second gin and tonic, I’ll be so relaxed, it’s not true. There’s a lovely phrase that goes, “I was born to drink short.” Which fits the bill. But the problem is the two drinks short became 10 drinks too short and onward. You see the process is, I’m trying to make myself feel okay. As I make myself feel okay, there’s a tolerance buildup by using whatever I use. Now, whether that’s drugs or alcohol or sex or whatever, there’s a tolerance buildup.

As the tolerance increases, you need more to get that effect. And at some point in time, you cross where this is drunk, but this is where I feel okay. So you end up elevating the point where actually you never really feel okay, but you are drunk, and that’s where chaos ensues. That’s when people wake up feeling awful. That’s when people can’t function properly, when they get all sorts of illnesses. Some people will have multiple addictions. I believe anybody that’s an addict has the predisposition to all of them. You have to deal with the whole thing.

Some people may feel or know deep down that they have an addiction, but they’re lying to themselves and just getting on with life.

I can remember coming out of the pub again and again and again, I’d get home. I’d feel exhausted. This is before I went into a pub that, I’d get home and I’d go down the pub and have two or three pints of beer, and I’d always have a bottle of Jack Daniels at home for later. But I’d come out of that pub thinking, “If I carry on doing this, I’m going to end up in a psychiatric hospital.” And of course, I did, but it didn’t stop me. The knowledge that this was not a good idea, it didn’t touch the sides, it had no effect whatsoever. I was truly addicted. In other words, I didn’t have a choice.

So what would your advice be for somebody who knows, maybe, deep down that they are already addicted to whatever it may be.

Get help, because I don’t believe that the average addict is capable, and this is just my experience, of actually getting well on their own. They need other people to help them. I needed other people to help me. I still do. I still attend fellowship meetings, 26 years down the line. And it’s not something I think that people can do on their own because we need identification, we need affirmation that we’re okay as people. And the best people to do that are other people with the same illness.

Would you not say that after 26 years you’re not an alcoholic anymore?

No, I’ll always be an alcoholic. I’ve seen too much evidence of people who have gone back out after 10, 20, 30, 40 years, they’re dead very quickly. The descent into the pit takes about 24 hours. I’ve seen people sober for 10 years, take a drink, and within two days, drinking two bottles of Jack Daniels or two bottles of vodka. It’s very, very scary. I hope that I never ever go back to that again. Actually, I’m not afraid of dying. What I am afraid of is actually feeling the way I felt before I stopped, which was awful, it was a complete nightmare.

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