Addiction Is A Game

By Jack Kelly, CAP, NLP, LHMP

Addiction Is A Game

Contrary to popular opinion, we’re not losing the war on drugs.

Our children are.

They are playing an old game, Russian roulette, with new weapons. The guns have been replaced with pills, alcohol, and illegal drugs.

There is no lack of information on the number of famous people who lost the game, such as: Amy Winehouse, (alcohol) Michael Jackson, (prescription drugs), and Whitney Houston, (cocaine). You may have children, friends, or relatives who also lost the game.

According to a report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), drug overdoses killed 37,792 people in 2010, one every 19 minutes. That makes drug overdose the second leading cause of accidental death. The first is motor vehicle accidents (43,667). Deaths from overdoses were also higher than shooting deaths, which were 30,694. Putting this in perspective; imagine a major airline stating that they could accurately predict that two of their one hundred 757’s would crash each week, killing all 720 passengers on board. Would you book a flight on that airline? Not if you were sane. Yet every time an alcoholic or drug addict decides to play Russian roulette with their drug of choice, they are booking a seat on one of those planes. Like the 37,792 people who died from drug overdoses, they are willing to take the risk that their plane will be one of those that makes it to its destination. Is it really worth the risk?

Deaths from prescription drug overdoses have been called the “silent epidemic.” It’s being described as the biggest man-made epidemic in the United States.

So if you, your loved ones, or your clients want to become addiction survivors, there are two things that are important to remember:

ONE: Addiction, left untreated, is a terminal disease.

TWO: There is no future in addiction; only a regrettable past that keeps repeating itself, over and over again.

Addiction is a very seductive game. In order to understand the game, you first have to understand the disease of chemical dependency.

Imagine you’re a car battery. For years, you function just the way a car battery is supposed to function. Then one day, you just can’t get going, and you get to experience your first jump start. When that “juice” starts to flow, you yell, very, very loudly, something like, “Oh my God! Oh my God! I’ve never felt so good. Where has the cable man been all my life?”

From that day forward, you want a jump start, every day. And you do this for years. Then one day, the cable man doesn’t show up, and you learn something new about yourself.

You no longer want a jump start. You need a jump start. Without that jump start you don’t feel “normal.” You have lost the ability to feel good on your own.

You are now dependent on the cable man to make you feel good, and one jump start just doesn’t do it anymore. You need a dozen jump starts – just to make it through the day.

What started out as a “love affair” giving you great highs, turned into an abusive relationship where your desire for pleasure was replaced by the need to avoid the pain of withdrawal. And there was only one person who could help you get rid of that pain. The cable man! Can you relate?

What do many of us do, to relieve the stress of everyday living, to feel good? We reach out for food, a pill, a drink, or illegal drugs.

There are more than 150 Twelve Step Programs. Just one word separates them from each other: We admitted we were powerless over ______.

But, no matter what the drug of choice, if you are a member of a Twelve Step program,
everyone has the same “primary” addiction.

When we experience dis-ease: anxiety, fear, stress, guilt, resentment, anger, boredom, despair, depression, loneliness, shame, etc., what’s the first thing we want to do? Get rid of our dis-ease by creating a mood altering experience.


For some of us, it’s very basic, food, Overeaters Anonymous. For the more adventurous, it may be gambling on line or at the Casino, Gamblers Anonymous. For others, it can be promiscuous sex, Sex Addicts Anonymous. If we want to feed our addictive appetites twenty-four hours a day, we can of course go on line and spend the day visiting thousands of porno web sites, Cyber Sex Anonymous.

But for most of us, it’s pretty simple. We simply pick up the food, pill, drink, or illegal drug to get rid of our dis-ease.

There are so many people want to stop playing the game, but don’t know how. They get stuck on the Relapse Roller Coaster Ride. If your experience is like mine, getting someone on the recovery path is much easier than keeping them there. What I have learned in 37 years of sobriety, plus 10 years of conducting group and individual counseling sessions, may help you, your loved ones or clients, stay on the path.

Over the last five years, I have seen more and more people who, shortly after completing treatment, relapse. Many of them come back to treatment, two and three times – in the same year. And then, there are those who don’t make it back. They die.

Is there a solution?

There is, but depending on how it’s presented, it can be a major obstacle for some people. Almost every A.A. or N.A. meeting ends with the Serenity Prayer or the Our Father.

Many newcomers have a problem with “God,” and upon hearing these prayers, they assume that the Twelve Steps are some kind of religious program, and they don’t’ want to be part of any religion.

To overcome this obstacle, they need a clear explanation on the difference between spirituality and religion.

The following metaphors may help explain the difference.


The hole in the center of a wheel is what makes the wheel useful. The wheel has many spokes joining together in the central hub, but none of the spokes is as important as the emptiness in the middle. The spokes represent the many different religions. The hole in the center represents, spirituality, spiritual principles. One has to do with form, structure, content, and beliefs. The other is based on an experience which results in a “knowing” rather than a believing.

The original members of A.A. understood the difference between the two. Instead of focusing their attention on what they could do to “avoid” picking up a pill, drink or drug, they tell us, “We have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience.” (A.A. Page 79)


Another metaphor which can be used to explain the difference between spirituality and religion is a banana. Imagine peeling a banana where the skin of the banana separates into four separate pieces. Let’s say that each piece represents one of the world religions, for example:
In Northern Ireland, we have the Catholics and Protestants. In Pakistan, we have Hindus and Muslims. In Croatia, we have the Catholics and Muslims. For thousands of years, they have been killing each other over the differences in their peels; completely ignoring the beauty and power of the banana, spirituality.

The Twelve Steps don’t focus on the skins, they focus on the banana. It’s the banana, not the skins, that provides access to the Power that transforms cravings for pills, alcohol, or illegal drugs into cravings for courage, honesty, integrity, peace, and humility.


The emptiness in a cup is what makes it useful for drinking.

In our attempt to grow spiritually, we don’t begin by “adding” new ideas and information.

We begin by “emptying” our cup of all the preconceived ideas we have about spirituality and religion.

Being open minded is a crucial first step for exploring spirituality.

Reading the chapter, WE AGNOSTICS, in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, is a good place to start the emptying process. Letting go of our old beliefs, habits, and ideas requires resolve and courage. It is a great challenge, to unlearn, in order to create new space within.

In an attempt to keep more alcoholics and addicts from relapsing, coming back to treatment, and dying, I have done three things:

ONE: Written a book. RADICAL RECOVERY: Twelve Recovery Myths – The Addiction Survivor’s Guide to the Twelve Steps. If someone buys into the myths, and the high relapse rate suggests that most do, there’s a good chance they may never get off the Relapse Roller Coaster Ride.

TWO: Created a brand of holistic therapy that enables alcoholics and drug addicts to create a mood altering experience – without using pills, alcohol, or drugs. This brand of therapy is called M.I.N.E. The goal is to Motivate, Inspire, Nurture, and Empower members of all Twelve Step programs to become addiction survivors. To accomplish this goal, the therapy integrates sound, music, motivational, and vibroacoustic therapy. It’s currently being used by treatment centers in the U.S. and England. In addition to helping with addiction, the therapy has been very effective in relieving chronic pain, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress, and depression – major triggers for relapse.

THREE: Reinforcement is the mother of success. Wasn’t that how you learned your times table? I send out a daily email to treatment centers, guidance counselors, and members of Twelve Step programs. Every day, MR. SEE is there to remind us about what we need to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

M – Meditate: For ten to twenty minutes.
R – Read: The inspirational thought for the day.
S – Serve: Be part of the solution; not the problem. Alleviate the suffering of others.
E – Exercise: Commit 5 to 30 minutes – stretch, walk, run, do pushups or sit-ups.
E – Eat Healthy. Food is a drug. It can nurture or destroy our bodies. Choose wisely.

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Jack Kelly, CAP, NLP, LHMP is the founder of The Lazarus House, in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds certifications in the following areas: Addiction, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Trauma, and Hypnosis Therapy. He is also a Licensed HeartMath provider. He provides training for M.I.N,E., and conducts educational programs for schools, parent teacher organizations, treatment centers and prisons. He covers the myths presented in his book: RADICAL RECOVERY: Twelve Recovery Myths – The Addiction Survivor’s Guide to the Twelve Steps. Reviews of the book are available on Amazon.