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Living With an 'Addict’s Brain'


I want to know why some of us have brains that know how to stop and others of us do not. I want to know why some of us are “all or nothing,” black and white thinkers, while others of us do not take things to such extremes.

I want to know why I have the mind of an addict. I want to know why alcohol (and granted, other behaviors such as anorexia-related ones) draws me in as much as it does. Maybe it’s time to stop asking why and to start taking action. I’ve started going to AA meetings. I go in phases when I’m able to not drink, but then, I always fall back to it. This time I’m determined not to.

It’s hard dealing with this, no matter where you are in life. In college, I find I’m surrounded by many people who may not realize what’s happening with me is beyond the “normal.” My close friends do, and the silly thing is I still find myself trying to deceive them. I drink when they aren’t looking and ignore their well-intentioned advice.

My alcohol use certainly isn’t helping my bipolar disorder. In fact, part of the reason I drink is because I like the intense manic high it gives me, but I always try to make myself forget about the severe depressive crash. That is, until I’m forced to face it head on.

I feel like without alcohol, without an eating disorder and without self-harming, I’m empty. Even though I ultimately feel better without those things in my life, I think it’s that inherent emptiness that indicates I have the addict’s brain.

I’m doing my best to fight it. I’m starting with finding a community of people who understand me. I’m doing it by telling more people I’m sober so that I can be held accountable. It’s not that I ever drank around the clock, but I know with me, one drink just isn’t possible. It’s always a binge, and it always results in an intense, rapid manic-depressive episode.

This is why I’m, once again, trying for sobriety. In the end, life is better without my addictions.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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