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How to Spot the Signs of Addiction and Then Ignore Them

The mind is an incredible thing when used correctly, but it’s even more impressive when used incorrectly.

Concerned coworkers and people who rely on a higher power to help them pick out their morning breakfast cereal will try to propagandize your brain with the idea that admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it. However, admitting you have a problem, even to yourself, makes you a tattletale, and everyone knows that the only thing worse than a bottom-barrel drunkard is an adult tattletale.

When caught in the throes of alcohol and substance misuse, the brain can create entire systems that not only rationalize but reward potentially lethal behavior, which is pretty badass no matter how quickly it ushers you into an early grave. I’ve been blaming my bloodshot Monday-morning bender eyes on bee pollen and cat dander for so long that even I’m starting to believe it myself.

It’s important to remember that perspective is everything. A gambling problem is only a problem until you hit the jackpot, and then it’s a gambling solution. Similarly, waking up multiple times a week with a debilitating hangover might signify a drinking problem to some, but to others, never waking up with a hangover might indicate that you’re a nerd with a completely atrophied social life.

Denial is just as strong a tool as self-awareness, but no one wants to talk about that. As the old philosophical thought experiment goes, “If a tree falls in the forest and you’re too ripped on vodka red bulls and MDMA to notice, did it even happen?” If most of your post-party problems can be solved with a valium, visine, and a couple of half-hearted apology texts, is it even a problem worth fixing? Answers may vary depending on who you ask.

To get me to clean up my life, a boring but well-meaning friend told me, “Nothing changes if nothing changes,” and steered me in the direction of some local AA chapters, but soon after, a funnier, more morally ambiguous friend told me you could cure a hangover with a mixture of zinc, magnesium and a saline enema. I’m still not sure which route to go, but that’s something I can decide once I remove this nozzle from my ass.