Love and Addiction
Love and Addiction By Stanton Peele.
I have wanted to read this book for some time but it has been out of print for some times and was often only available at ridiculously high prices, but now it is out on Kindle so I downloaded it. This was first published in the 1970’s but has been updated with some extra comments before each chapter. I have read many of Stanton’s books about addiction, including Recover and the Diseasing of America which really helped me see that I had made the correct decision to leave AA. I was still surprised by Love and Addiction, but in a really good way. It is certainly thought-provoking!
It has really made me think a lot about my own and my family’s values, as well as those of society in general, and what went wrong in my life. It really is thought-provoking and is certainly not like a lot of lightweight self-help books that are around today. It looks at all forms of addictions from alcohol and drugs, to TV and also at the relationships we have with each other. Stanton does not view addictions simply as medical problems, but as “problems of life” that most people overcome. This is a somewhat controversial point of view, but it made sense to me when I followed the ideas in the book which are presented in different scenarios. He more or less points out that addictions are negative patterns of behavior that result from an over-attachment people form, to experiences generated from a range of activities we are involved in, and that nearly all of us have some form of addiction in life at some time, but often evolve out of it.
I like the way that addiction is not viewed as a chronic disease, but rather something that is a learnt behaviour which can be changed. He points out that many recover on their own, without the help of certain groups, which is often overlooked. The examples of lifestyles were very realistic and I could certainly see some of my past behaviour in them, which was an eye-opener. I could also see things that could have been written about people I used to hang out with and I gained a deeper insight into their behaviour, which was not all good. The further I move away from addiction, the less these types of problems affect me, and I also tend to mix with much more healthy rounded people (another reason I keep away from 12 step groups, where a lot of people seem to have swapped a drink addiction for an AA addiction and are still pretty dysfunctional). Towards the end he talks about positive lifestyles including running, and this is something that has become important to me, and I must remember to keep challenging myself further with this. I also liked the analogies with playing Jazz, as that is something I do, and the problems that some Jazz musicians face were rather accurate!
This is not an easy read, but for somebody who really wishes to look at all aspects of their life, after ceasing an addiction, it is very worthwhile. It is easy to transfer from one addiction to another, in the search for instant gratification, and that is something that many do. (I stopped drugs quite young and moved to alcohol) . Some people even get addicted to therapy and this is covered as well. Comparing the addiction to alcohol to the idea of relationship addiction is actually rather uncomfortable if you have been there, as it really shows the truth behind dysfunctional lifestyles, but it really makes sense. I know I had one really unhealthy relationship, which could have been viewed as addictive and it was at a time when my drinking was getting out of control.
I would certainly recommend this, along with any of Stanton’s books for people who are interested in changing their life after addiction. The book Recover is the latest and uses techniques such as mindfulness which have certainly helped me over the years.