“Just because they are alcoholics Robin,

doesn’t mean they’re not human.”

That line, somewhat paraphrased is from the campy original Batman television series. You know the one with all the dancing, colour, ka-pows and general hint of drugs gone wild in the creative department. It’s a good line which removed from its context stands up ever truer. We often think of people with addictions as being somehow different. He’s not your buddy from college, he’s the alcoholic from college. We tend to describe people by their addictions creating a subtle division between us and them. It is a classic form of Orientalism once used to distinguish the civilized people from the savage people. Now that’s just not kosher, so instead we make divisions within our own societies. First it was class, but again, that’s not acceptable anymore unless you’re a Labour supporter. So we have all these weaknesses that we pick up on instead. When the simple truth is that we are all capable of forming an unhealthy addiction or obsession with something, or someone. So the next time you dismiss that degenerate gambler, consider whether you could give up the lottery or your scratch cards cold turkey and never go back. Hmm?

I’m halfway through this dastardly challenge and have avoided drinking Coca-Cola or any fizzy drinks for more than fourteen days. Quite an achievement for me considering how long Diet Coke was my only drink. And I have been tempted, sorely tempted. In that first week I was willing to have crafty cans at the school I teach at, or replace bottles of coke in the house after drinking them whilst my fiancé was out. However I kept my composure and have in saintly fashion passed out half of the month.

This last week I came to learn another lesson about addiction and the struggle to get it under control. This was a lesson about boredom. So often we read about kids and adults saying they took up drink or hard drugs because of boredom. We’ve scoffed at it. You took them up because your stupid and weak and easily peer pressured. With all the evidence of the damage that they do, nobody in their right mind should take them up. Yet they do, and we do with our own socially accepted addictions. The issue of boredom interested me this week as for the first time under the challenge I had a couple of days free instead of working in the museums. These days without a doubt have to be the hardest of the challenge so far. I had nothing to do, or more rightly felt like doing nothing (I could have you know done a blog, worked on my novella, played the guitar, done the ironing?) and was getting wound up by the fact that I couldn’t get a refreshing glass of coke when it was staring at me across the kitchen. When I’m working, and I come home tired, I neither have the mood nor inclination to get a drink and the challenge is easy. When I have a lot of free time on my hands, I start to think more about it and frustrate myself. This must be the single most dangerous issue that follows recovering addicts around like a second shadow. Giving up alcohol or drugs whilst kept busy (they don’t sit around doing nothing at rehab centers, they have activities to keep busy) is one thing, but when we are left to our own devices – isolated with our thoughts, then we are prone to doing the worst things. And for an alcoholic or drug addict – another fix is unquestionably the worst thing they can do. Buying that blue movie on satellite television is alright in comparison (unless your addiction is pornography, in which case this passage is a case of foot-in-mouth). Keep busy, help keep your friends busy. Maybe with time it gets easier to face the boredom. I don’t know and this challenge doesn’t cover a long enough time period.

Two weeks left. Going to be a breeze?

Whilst this challenge is trivial it allows a reflective comparison of some real issues. If you have any thoughts on addiction generally, or words of encouragement for me please feel free to leave them in the comments below!