How and why do people get addicted?
I don’t cook much. Luckily, I’ve got a spouse who loves the kitchen, and lots of food apps and local restaurants to choose from, so I don’t starve. That said, there is one recipe that I know very well, and I know it from start to finish. I can also assure you that it works every time, in every kitchen. It’s my infallible, no-fail recipe for creating an addict.
Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is a digital-age intimacy and relationships expert specializing in infidelity and addictions—in particular sex, porn, and love addiction. An internationally acknowledged clinician, he has served as a subject expert for multiple media outlets including The Oprah Winfrey Network, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, and CNN, among others.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
You see, addicts are not “born that way,” they’ve created. They’re mixed up and baked like a cake. And for anyone out there who would like to create (or to avoid creating) a future addict, or, possibly, to better understand how their own addiction came about, I have provided my time-tested recipe below. And no, this is not something I’ve invented. It’s an old family recipe, passed down through the generations. I don’t mind sharing it, though, because most families already have their own version of it.
- One small human, preferably an infant or a toddler, either gender
- One or more unavailable, unstable, and/or inconsistent caretakers
- Neglect (emotional and/or physical)
- Abuse (emotional, physical, and/or sexual)
- Consistent and profound stress within the home (financial woes, fighting, moving around a lot, chronic and/or serious physical ailments, infidelity, etc.)
- One very large helping of “don’t talk about it and pretend our life is peachy”
- Iffy genetics (most likely evidenced by a family history of addiction and/or mental illness)
- One package yeast
- Mix ingredients in a very large bowl (or a confusing and tension filled household) and set aside until the small human expands (this is what the yeast is for) into a disconnected, unhappy child with low self-esteem.
- Push the disconnected, unhappy child with low self-esteem into a greased, floured, and highly dysfunctional social and school environment.
- Heat in life’s pressure cooker until the child starts to compulsively drink, get high, look at porn, or engage in other addictive behaviors.
- Do not supervise or provide guidance about handling life’s difficulties.
- Allow the unhappy child to assume that everything is his/her fault.
- Do not engage in open dialogue or offer insight into problems that the child or the family might be having.
- Season to taste with generous helpings of “ignore it and maybe it will go away,” “enabling,” “covering up,” “letting the addict run roughshod over the family,” “pushing the blame onto any person who dares point out the problem,” and any other form of dysfunction in your cupboard.
- Open the front door and unleash this unprepared, troubled, insecure person on the world. If the neighbors are watching, act as if everything is perfectly okay, thank you very much for asking, now please go away and leave us alone.
In case you’re wondering, this recipe for addiction, though I’ve presented it in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, is scientifically verified. In fact, huge amounts of research confirm that problematic genetics combined with a dysfunctional upbringing and various forms of early-life trauma significantly increase the risk for addiction. For instance, a combination of genetic predisposition, alcoholic parents, childhood trauma, and early exposure to an addictive substance or behavior occurs relatively often, nearly always creating a witch’s brew of ongoing life problems, including addictions and numerous other emotional and psychological issues.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from an addiction, be it alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, or any other problematic compulsive behavior, inpatient and outpatient help is readily available. You might also look into 12-step recovery groups and various other addiction-focused support groups.