John Fanning: America the addicted |

John Fanning: America the addicted

by John Fanning

A University of Michigan researcher has discovered that a person can actually become addicted to cookies. Believe it!

Let’s be completely honest with one another, at least during the reading of this commentary, and especially as the New Year approaches. Have you ever stocked up just a bit more of the sweet things for those so called unexpected visitors? Of course, somebody has to “finish them up.” Have you ever awakened at night, crawled quietly out of bed, and tip-toed to the kitchen in search of something sweet? I have. How many of you have bought a bag of pretzels, potato chips, or Fritos and promised yourself you would only eat three, and end up eating the whole bag? I have. After this, did you feel rotten about yourself the next day? I have. How many of you do not keep certain items in your home because you will eat it until it is gone? You know, like ice cream. I have.

How many of you who smoked swore off cigarettes only to return within minutes, hours or days? I did, many, many times. How about alcohol? Have you tried to quit? I tried many times before I did. I actually had no choice. I had to. My choices were very limited – jail, insane asylum or death.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you one of the latest studies done on a number of drugs, and more specifically alcohol.

A recent study paid for by Britain’s Center for Crime and Justice concluded that alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine. The substances studied, which also included ecstasy and marijuana was based on how destructive the drugs are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole. Experts said alcohol scored so high because it is so widely used and has such devastating consequences on those who consume as well as those around the drinker.

Back to the calories and addiction:

Studies have been conducted showing when the brain gets a calorie rush there is a physical craving for a fat/sugar mixture similar to an opiate drug addition. Some studies suggest an additive personality and have profiled aspects of a psychological make-up contributing to addiction. More later!

Eat an apple, eat a banana, the experts tell us. Eat some celery sticks, carrot sticks or cucumber slices. But, we don’t want these things. We want our potato chips, pretzels, cookies, Zingers and cupcakes. Be honest, have you ever stopped at a donut shop, bought a dozen donuts, eaten three on the way home, felt so guilty and scared, and threw six in the trash? I haven’t, but I know someone who has.

Those of us who are addictive have suffered all the classic symptoms. We become filled with remorse. We vow to change our ways. We make pledges to have a sweet-free, fat-free day, usually a Monday. But unfortunately we ultimately binge.

Remember Nancy Reagan and her “just say no” campaign? It turned out those who said “no” were not addicts. I was more likely to say, “don’t mind if I do, or I’ll have another.” Or, “do you have a match?” Also, in my particular case, “what are we drinking?” Unfortunately it is only the non-addicted who are able to just say NO.

We seem addicted to all sorts of things: drugs, alcohol, shoplifting, sex, gambling, video games, pornography, prescription drugs, chocolate, spending, and even entitlements. I know I have an addictive personality. Today, I am one inhale away from a carton, and one drink away from a drunk.

Our government has tried unsuccessfully to control our addiction. One only has to look at the failure of prohibition, the war on drugs, and the continuous war on sugar and fatty foods to realize we are a nation of addicts and know very little about substance abuse.

The addictive personality – the question becomes, what aspects of the psychological make-up contribute to addiction? A major misconception involving addiction, according to researchers, is the idea that certain substances are, all by themselves, addictive. Are there common threads that weave through all addictions, from hard drugs to cigarettes, from alcohol to overeating, from gambling to junk food?

Several noted behavior specialists report significant personality factors contributing to addiction. Remember, these factors are the extremes. Some of these are all too familiar to me. How about you?

>Impulse behaviour, difficulty in delaying gratification, an anti-social personality.

>A high value of non-conformity.

>A sense of heightened stress.

>A sense of social alienation.

>Insecurity, depression.

I am open to the idea if we can better identify the personality factors, they can help us devise better treatment, and can open up new strategies to intervene and break the patterns of addiction.

Cookies anyone? Happy New Year!

John Fanning live in Dillon and Arizona. Reach him at

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