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Addiction & Treatment

The Myths Surrounding Cravings

Next, is the symptom of "craving." According to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language "crave" means "have an eager or intense desire.&fquot; According to McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine, craving is "A strong desire to consume a particular substance—e.g. of abuse, or food; craving is a major factor in relapse and/or continued use after withdrawal from a substance of abuse and is both imprecisely defined and difficult to measure. " This is the general definition reported in many medical dictionaries.

However, both cited dictionaries agree that to crave is to have an eager, intense, or strong desire. Since the 1600s that is what the word "crave" means, except for an older use of the word meaning to beg. McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine definition creates a new definition by claiming that "craving" specifically has to do with consuming "a particular substance — e.g. of abuse, or food; craving is a major factor..." Such a definition is bogus on its face because the word "craving" is virtually limitless. That is to say people can (and do) crave anything that comes into their minds, e.g. spelunking, sex, sweets, hand-gliding, gambling, pizza, and so on. Specifically, "craving" is not limited to "substance use" or abuse. "Craving" is a normal human thought. An interesting observation about cravings is that no one ever has strong desires (cravings) about things that have no potential to create happiness within. So, the observation that substance use may result in craving substances is accurate, but so is craving pizza. "Cravings," then, as a diagnostic indicator for substance use is at best a complete misunderstanding of the word "craving," or worse, an outright fabrication by the drug and alcohol treatment industry. If drug use and/or alcohol use is thought by the user to offer some form of happiness, even if the happiness is fleeting, then the thought of using such substances are likely to result in cravings.

Just suppose at 11:15am a worker starts thinking about lunch. The worker is fond of pizza and begins craving pizza for lunch, which the worker has for lunch. Later that afternoon the worker is suffering with heartburn. A few days later the worker does the same thing with the same consequence of experiencing heartburn. So is the worker’s pizza craving a characteristic of "addiction," or can it be that the worker simply likes pizza; eating pizza makes the worker happy for a while. Craving only means to have a strong or intense desire. Cravings are universal, and therefore normal.

ASAM claims that people with the disease of addiction experience "diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships…" Claiming that people with "addiction" experience "diminished recognition of significant problems…" is a manipulative trap to coerce people that use drugs and/or alcohol into believing that they, the users, are oblivious of their own behaviors. Everyone who has problems because of drug and/or alcohol use, knows that they have problems because of drug and/or alcohol use. BRI researchers interviewed hundreds of drug and/or alcohol users asking if they, the users, knew that they were having problems because of their drug and/or alcohol use; 100% reported that they knew that they were experiencing problems because of their using. That being true, why do users say, when asked by professionals, friends or family members, that they do not have behaviors and interpersonal relationships problems? Again, the answer is obvious; if users admitted to someone else that their drug and/or alcohol use is creating behavior and interpersonal relationship problems, then, the most guarded secret of the user’s mind may have to be revealed. The most guarded secret in drug and/or alcohol users’ minds is that most users do not want to stop using, regardless of their circumstances (problems). There is no "diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships;" the users themselves know exactly what they are doing, and, until they are self-motivated to stop using drugs, they won’t. Then again, when users do become self-motivated to stop altogether or moderate use, they do spontaneously stop or moderate. Others simply outgrow their interest in drugs. Either way some become moderate users, while the vast majority remains abstinent.

According to ASAM, "dysfunctional emotional responses" are symptoms of "addiction. " Some research papers list such things as worry, addiction, anxiety and depression as examples of dysfunctional emotional responses. BRI researchers have an aggregate of 60 years observing thousands of people. Some were drug users; some were not; some were alcohol users; some were not; some were children; some were not; some were PhD’s; some were not; some were wealthy and some were not. Thousands of people from all walks of life have been known to the researchers and all have worried about one thing or another, had anxiety about something and experienced some depression. The question, then, is this: If everybody has it, how can it be dysfunctional? Worry, anxiety and depression are functional emotional responses. Then there is the dysfunctional emotional response "addiction," which is then used to diagnose addiction. If it strikes you as a circular argument to use "addiction" to diagnose "addiction," you would be right.
Clearly BRI researchers do not agree with ASAM’s attempt to use perfectly normal human conditions as indications of a fictitious disease. The etymology of the word "addiction" reveals its true meaning which came about in the early 1600s meaning a tendency, habit or pursuit. The earliest meanings were even broader, meaning inclination or penchant. By the early 1900s the word "addiction" was changed to mean something more judgmental when it was used to describe heroin use. How does the Merriam-Webster Dictionary define addiction today? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary addiction is a "strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble). " A secondary meaning is "an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something. " Further, the same dictionary offers as a synonym the word "habit," and defines the word "synonym" as "one of two or more words or expressions of the same language that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses. " Yet, the definition by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of the word "habit" does not have the "same or nearly the same meaning" as addiction, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary "habit" means "a usual way of behaving: something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way: a strong need to use a drug, to smoke cigarettes, etc. : a piece of clothing worn by members of a religious group."

So you tell us, does a "strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug)…" mean the same as "...a strong need to use a drug..."? The BRI researchers take issue with the word "harmful" in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of the word "addiction. " The word "harmful" is definitely negative. The word "habit" is defined with neutrality, i.e. not negative or positive.

Taking a closer look at these synonyms, BRI researchers asked hundreds of alcohol and drug users if their use of alcohol and/or drugs, at the time of their using, made them unhappy. All of the subjects polled responded with a resounding, "No! If it made me unhappy when I was doing it, I wouldn’t have done it. " Thus, BRI researchers know from polling users that using drugs and alcohol, at the time of using, created an expectation of happiness. How, then, does that square with persons who have a "strong … need to regularly have something (such as a drug)."

As an example, let's consider the drug Metformin. Metformin is a drug that is regularly taken one, two or three times a day, every day, to help control blood sugar level. Controlling blood sugar level creates an expectation of happiness in people who are experiencing insulin resistivity. In the case of heroin users, they too have an expectation of happiness because of the effect of heroin.

Heroin makes people happy and Metformin makes people happy. If one uses too much heroin the user may get sick or die. If one uses too much Metformin the user may get sick or die. But the very idea that someone may be addicted to Metformin is an absurdity among medical professionals. So what’s the difference? Some medical professionals and the drug and alcohol treatment industry claim that heroin and other drugs affect the workings of the brain’s pleasure center. Still other medical professionals and others in the drug and alcohol treatment industry ascribe to the notion that heroin and other drug use is the product of human genes, and, others claim that drug and alcohol use is a conditioned response to life’s stressors, depression and anxiety. Then there are fringe elements that contend drug and alcohol users are possessed by evil or have an imbalance in their blood humors which cause all sorts of inexplicable problems and behaviors. These fringe ideas are really of no consequence, but one can’t help wondering why the brain’s pleasure center, genetic make-up and/or stressors, depression and anxiety are not elements of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of the word "addiction. " The answer to this query is quite simple; drug and alcohol use has nothing whatever to do with the malfunction of the brain’s pleasure center other than the normal response that everyone experiences when doing things that make them happy. And, after decades of research by thousands of researchers there is no genetic marker that predicts excessive drug or alcohol use. As for stressors, depression and anxiety causing drug and alcohol use, please consider that everybody in the world experiences these conditions (stress, depression and anxiety) and only a few excessively use drugs and alcohol.

That said the BRI researchers concluded in the mid-1990s that the word addiction did not mean, and never did mean, the definition set forth by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. It seems ASAM simply developed a clever idea to string together a group of perfectly normal thoughts and behaviors and labeled these thoughts and behaviors as pathological. It cannot be ignored that there exists no scientific evidence that ASAM’s definition of "addiction" is credible. And, the BRI researchers most certainly disagree with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s first definition of addiction as being a "strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble). " There is no history of the word "addiction" that means or implies "harmful." Far more people have a "strong … need to regularly have something (such as a drug, including alcohol) or do something (such as gamble or run)" and experience no harmful effects. In fact, most do not experience harmful effects, but actually experience harmless and happy experiences. It seems that the creators of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, when it came to defining "addiction," must have been drinking the Kool-Aid given to them by the drug and alcohol treatment industry.

Today, BRI researchers agree that there is a real condition defined as addiction. BRI researchers disagree that the word addiction carries with it any negative connotations or implied pathology. It simply means "habit. "

But what about those that assert alcoholism and addiction are diseases just like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Are they?