FLIGHT: AN AERIAL VIEW OF ADDICTION
I’ve seen her so many times, the obese woman with an aura of nicotine who stages into my allergist’s office, gasping, her pudgy hand at her throat. “I have to see the doctor right away,” she rasps. I can’t breathe.”
She wants to breathe, she wants to live, but she won’t or can’t stop smoking and overeating. I always feel magnanimous toward her until the allergist lets her in before me, even though I’ve been waiting a half hour.
I thought about her today when I left Flight, the movie where Denzel Washington plays a gifted pilot who miraculously brings a rattletrap plane through vicious weather conditions and lands it safely in a field even though the plane is falling apart, but is enraged when it comes out that he was drunk on vodka and high on cocaine when he managed to pull this off. He thinks it’s his choice to drink, no matter that it’s ruined his marriage, his relationship with his son, and leaves its grime on everyone he gets close to, such as the lyrically melancholic Kelly Reilly who wants him to sober up, think about his future, their future.
Abraham Twersky, M.D. in his book, Addictive Thinking: Understanding self-deception (a Hazeldon Book), says (p. 21) that addicts do think of the future, but in moments, not years. The addict” thinks the consequences of his addiction is a glow, a detachment from the world, and perhaps sleep. This will happen within a few minutes of the addicts using, and these few minutes make up the addict’s future. Cirrhosis of the liver, brain damage, loss of family and job do not happen within minutes, so they do not exist in the addict’s thoughts.”
So when the obese woman marinated in cigarette smoke usurps my next allergist’s appointment, I have to remember that she isn’t thinking past her next Marlboro, past the sprinkles and chocolate icing on her next donut. This is not personal. Not. But if you’re involved in any way with an addict, even peripherally, watch out!
November 25, 2012 @ 9:43 pm
November 25, 2012 @ 11:20 pm
I really enjoyed the movie as it seemed to be a realistic view in the life of a “professional” addict.
No matter what addiction we have…… alcohol, street drugs, prescribed drugs, food, work, etc….we all want to be free of the negative feelings about the life we are involved in.
The brain is such a complicated organ. Thank goodness more and more is being written about how it works.
November 26, 2012 @ 12:08 am
Great point! There can never be enough written because everyone is effected. What I see psychically is that an addictive person has a postivie experience with, say, eating frozen yogurt. The image and the accompanying satisfaction replays in the person’s mind, getting bright each day and before you kow it, the person is running to a yogurt store everyday, and always rooting around for one. We can become addicted to anything. (Me with playing solitaire on my Droid or staying up way too late. Better tuck myself in now. (LOL) Best, Rochelle
November 26, 2012 @ 9:08 am
A very interesting blog, and the comment, “The brain is such a complicated organ. Thank goodness more and more is being written about how it works,” is so true. I think many things believed now willl be disproved, and so many things not known about the brian will be discovered in the future. I wish I could be around to see what happens; so many will be owed apologies for how they’ve been treated by society.
November 26, 2012 @ 11:00 am
You’re right. Addiction takes place in the same part of the brain as the psychic faculty–the amygdala. (Spelling?) What a fascinating comment, Marilyn. In anonymous groups, an addict is supposed to apologize for everything that he’s done to others. With your revelation, maybe others will someday apologize to them as well. Best, Rochelle