Treatment and recovery professionals have spread the view that heavy substance use is pathological, that is that it must be explained as a disorder, disease, the outgrowth of some complex and twisted set of causes; or a compulsion meant to "self-medicate" underlying psychological issues. They claim that substance use becomes involuntary for those they deem to be addicts. This has injected much confusion into the topic of heavy substance use, and the confusion hurts the people seeking help. While some people that come to us for help have some clarity about why they prefer to use substances, an increasing majority are completely confused about this matter. They say "I don't know why I do this; I don't even like it." They've come to view their desire for substances as a mysterious and foreign drive.
Below is a listing of tangible, common sense reasons why people prefer heavy substance use, even when it comes at a high cost. We're going to discuss them here, and invite you to set aside all those other complicated explanations you may believe about addiction for a little while as you read through this chapter. We would like you to consider the simplest explanation first.
The goal of this chapter is for you to become conscious of the factors that may be painfully obvious, yet are rarely considered. We want you to see the common sense explanation of what lies behind a strong desire for intoxication.