Drug addicts (who for reasons use the term “alcoholic” primarily/interchangeably) are usually defined as people who can’t control their drug use. “They start out to have a good time and then it’s a shit show.”

The words “to have a good time” are doing a lot of work here.

This is the trope: The alcoholic’s great obsession is that he will one day be able to control and enjoy some nice, fun drinks and drugs.

This is basically a lie because the word “enjoy” is poorly defined.

I don’t talk about it a lot, but one important part of my story (and identity) is that I’ve been sober for 18+ years. Addicts aren’t a monolith but we sure do have opinions about addicts. This one is mine.

We’ll get back to this concept of “enjoyment” in a moment.

Now, many of my fellow addicts will stop me here to say something like “I never wanted to drink/drug in moderation, I always wanted to get drunk.” Okay, sure, fine, that’s one reason why this trope is wrong, but I think there’s a reason that gets closer to the source.

To a person, addicts’ stories of falling in love with booze and drugs (we all fell in love) includes this honeymoon period, however brief, where these substances made them feel “good.” Made them feel “okay… finally.”

They describe this experience in many different ways.

Let me sum up the collective stories: “Alcohol/drugs took everything in my life, feelings, fears, worries, doubts, inadequacies, relationships, and my whole world… It took everything that was BAD, and it made it GOOD.”

I guess you could call that “enjoyment”? “A good time”?

This is the thing about addicts: We’re asking a lot of the drug, because it worked once. It really worked. It took everything that was bad in the universe, and it made it good. And then it stopped doing that.

Drugs weren’t fun once and then they stopped being fun… Drugs were the mystical elixir of the gods once and at some point they stopped washing away all the evils of the world in a single flurry of magic.

The great obsession of the alcoholic isn’t that some day he will be able to “enjoy” drinking. The great obsession is that there exists a magical thing that can take all this pain and longing and unworthiness and make it all go away in an instant.

We’ve seen it. We just had it.