When the recent T2 Trainspotting movie was released, the big shock for the die-hard fans of the gritty, drug-infested, bleak landscape of Glasgow was the switch to the Euro-focused, clean and shiny Edinburgh of the second movie.
We watch a man who had been skeletal, bed-ridden and cruel turn into the broad shouldered Ewan McGregor we’re familiar with.
It might not have been the film its fans were expecting, but it showed another facet of the world of drugs. It was no longer heroin in shacks, but cocaine and pretty dresses, ecstasy in brightly lit clubs, fountains of alcohol. It was addiction with another face, recreational drugs with the young and bright and wild.
Addiction – even in glamorous surroundings – is still addiction
This is the world of addiction, but infinitely harder to pin down as addiction. It doesn’t feel like addiction if the MDMA is only on Fridays, if the cocaine is only on a bad day, if the drinks are never alone. “I don’t need it, I want it”, is the most common refrain.
But what happens when you want it all the time? Where is the line between choice or desire, and addiction? The reality is that for most of us, we won’t ever know. For a country like the UK, statistics like nine million people drinking more than the recommended daily limits, or 8,697 alcohol related deaths in 2014, don’t surprise us. Nor do they stop us.
Alcohol is the most pervasive source of addiction, probably because it is so socially acceptable. The NHS estimates that 9% of adult men and 4% of adult women show signs of alcohol dependency, but even this statistic is hard to swallow, given how many people I know who have never honestly reported the amount of alcohol they drink to their doctors.
The difficulty of long-term addiction management
The hardest part is accepting the difference between that choice, dependence and addiction. It is easier to admit that we choose our vices than that we are dependent on them, or that we are dependent on substances rather than addicted to them. The road is famously slippery and the lines notoriously blurred.
During that Trainspotting sequel, Renton turns to Spud on the peaks of Scotland and explains how he overcame his addiction. It was a long road, a road that doubtless required self-analysis, hard choices, determination and desperation. It is a road that he clearly never finishes walking; a life transformation that is never complete and only continues through difficult choices made every day. By rechannelling his energy, the drive to obsess, into other pursuits he could overcome his deep-seated needs.
“You’re an addict, so be addicted. Just be addicted to something else”.
Learn more about how a psychotherapist in Harley Street from Portland Practice could help to ease your concerns about addiction by contacting our small, intimate team today.