A Parade of Everyday Addicts
- Monday, August 11, 2008
I did it to myself. It wasn’t society…it wasn’t a pusher, it wasn’t being blind or being black or being poor. It was all my doing.
I’m an addict. Most of us are.
There, I’ve said it. Wanting to write about addictions for a long time, I finally received the green light from my publisher.
My publishing team sat around the conference table sipping Cokes, lattes, and bottled water, listening to my sales pitch. Finally, Elisa, one of the editors, asked quizzically, “Can a book about addictions really sell?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied, glancing around the room at the concerned faces. “But I do know this: We’re a nation of addicts, and it seems like we ought to be talking about it. We pretend that addictions only happen to other people. That’s not true.”
“There’s an image out there,” Elisa said, “that if you admit to having problems with an addiction, people will think you’re like drug addicts. The kind who steal to support their habit and have lost their teeth, their health, their kids, and their home. They’re in such denial about the whole issue that they wouldn’t want help if you offered it.”
Several team members nodded in agreement.
Kirk, from sales, got up and poured himself another cup of coffee.
“We’ve drawn this imaginary line,” I added. “It’s them, the addicts, and us, the normal ones.”
“So,” Donna from acquisitions said, “is something wrong with that kind of thinking?” Just then her cell phone rang. “I’m sorry,” she said, taking a moment to check the caller before turning her phone off. “I thought I turned this thing off.”
“There’s a lot wrong with that kind of thinking,” I continued. “I want to talk about everyday addictions. The kind that affect each of us. I’m not pointing any fingers, but I like my lattes every day. I like to tell myself coffee’s just a passion. But to be honest, I’d have a hard time living without it.”
“Sounds familiar,” Kirk added, smiling.
“I’ve also struggled with work addiction, but I like to tell myself I’m just a hard worker. I still carry my Palm with me wherever I go, and my laptop is always within reach.
”Donna smiled anxiously. “You’re hitting close to home,” she said.
“There are the addicts that sit next to us in church or work in the cubicle next to ours. They live next door, and their kids play with our kids. We’re afraid to talk about these addictions because we fear being seen as stereotypical drug addicts.”
“I’m still not sure I’m getting it,” Kirk said impatiently, glancing down at his watch. “Either you’re an addict or you’re not, and if you are, your life is probably out of control. I’m still not sure about the market for this kind of book.”
“It’s not a black-or-white problem,” I said. “These are everyday addicts, people who still function and work and shop where we work and shop. People like you and me.”
“I’m surprised we’re struggling so much with this concept,” said Donna. “Of course there are everyday addictions. I’ll admit that I’m an Internet junkie, and my husband would be smiling if he were here listening to this conversation. It’s not a joke, though I’ve got to admit I’ve never thought of it as an addiction.”
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