"Addict": Commonly used, Rarely defined
I was about to respond to a post about addiction when I had to stop an think what the word really means? I thought of many different definitions (sadly I fit into all of them) but thought that it was a very vague term, despite this - it is commonly used. So I thought I would look into it more (these are just my thoughts not saying this is my answer). I began by looking up the word "Addict"/"To be addicted" in the dictionary, as follows:
Definition number 4 still has some problems/vagueness, three in particular: 'need', 'harmful' and 'regular'. So I sought further clarity on these terms by once again, checking the dictionary.
- "To be dependent on a substance": For this I had to look up 'dependent' and the particular dictionary said: "to rely on X for something" so dependent on a substance for what? Life? I am dependent on oxygen for life - am I addicted to oxygen?
- "To be unable to stop doing or using something": Unable to? Well, I am unable to stop myself from sneezing, this doesn't mean I'm a sneeze-addict
- "To be enthusiastically devoted to a specified thing or activity": Yes, this one is true. I am enthusiastically devoted to Meth. Wait, I feel the same way about watching "Ru Paul's Drag Race"? Actually, I am not enthusiastic about my meth addiction, in fact I hate it.
- "To need to take something harmful regularly without being able to stop": This one is better but has some vagueness, but I give up with the ‘word ‘addict’/‘addiction’.
Before I look it up I can predict one problem with defining this in relation to addiction will be that for the addict quite often the 'need' isn't a need in the sense of survival, even physical withdrawals that can kill without tapering can use substitute substances in place of the drug of choice so the need for the DOC is not definite. What do the dictionaries say? Well, this:
Need: To feel that you have to have something
- "To have need of": Wow, a monkey could write a dictionary this useless.
- "To strongly want": Okay...how strongly? I really, really want someone to put new IKEA furniture together, do I need them to? No (although if anyone is offering...)
- “To require (something) because it is essential or very important rather than just desirable”: Well, yes. Certainly the drug seems more than just desirable (sometimes seems like more than essential). Defining need is difficult because you need to know what you need X for. To live? To have a good quality of life? To make sure you can afford your Netflix account? I think this depends on the type of addiction, which I wrote about but it was too long so will make it a separate post.
- “To have to have something in order to have a satisfactory life”: This one incorporates the idea that it’s not just about being alive but being alive and being able to engage with life in some basic way. Lying in bed for five days unable to eat or move or see another human is not really living in any meaningful way. But satisfactory is nebulous so I’m tempted to use my own definition:
Definitions found included:
Harmful: Tending to cause injury
- “Likely to cause harm”: Duh. Again, you cannot use the word to define the word.
- “Of a kind likely to cause damage”: Ok, there’s a sense of probability involved. ‘Likely’ doesn’t mean for certain. Well, if you immersed your entire body in the strongest super acid we know of, Fluoroantimonic acid (which is 10 quadrillion times more acidic than sulphuric acid) then you will certainly damage yourself. Well if the damage is certain not likely...it can’t be considered harmful right? (I'm being a pedant)
- “Capable of causing injury”: Well almost anything is capable of causing injury. A kitten could accidentally start a fire – not harmful. You could choke on a grape – doesn’t mean that grapes are harmful.
- “Tending to cause injury”: Acceptable.
Final one, this is (apparently) defined as:
Regular: Customarily, usually, normally
- "at the same time each day/week/month": Well, no that's not true at all - time has no meaning for my dosing, certainly. In fact the exact opposite, it's scattered all over the place and entirely emotion/need driven.
- “when the length of interval between two things is the same”: With the time dilation effects of most drugs, time hardly even exists! I suppose this might be applied to taking GBL since it’s specifically required to wait an hour before “Ding! It’s G-‘o’-Clock!” but this is not normally how dosing works in my experience.
- “Very often”: Okay but how do we quantify very often?
- “Often”: Ah, so this time it's just 'often' same problem, make up your mind dictionaries, is it 'often' or 'very often'?
- “According to plan or a fixed schedule”: Worst definition yet, the exact opposite for me and my usage. I haven’t ever planned, (except maybe Ketamine). I do it on a whim. Perhaps I should have a little diary to write things like: “16:05 - Reload Bowl”, “16:08 - Take puff”, “23: 39 - Clean out pipe” and "23:40 - 5mg Valium".
- “Non-varying, constant”: Woah! It’s not that bad, thankfully.
- “Customarily, usually, normally”: Ok, this one I like – we could ask what’s normal but part of the point of the word regular is that is nebulous in some regard.
Ok so let’s mash the three preferred (more like tolerable) terms into our original starting definitiion which was, “To need to take something harmful regularly without being able to stop”.
Addict: Someone who feels that they have to take something, which tends to cause injury, on a customary, usual or normal basis without being able to stop.
Hmmm…I’m still not happy with it to be honest. Perhaps now I've over-defined it? Or maybe I am missing some component or twisting some of the meanings? Any ideas?
What do you mean when you say addict?