Miami Book Fair

My wife and I are getting excited about attending the Miami Book Fair next week.  I did drop in on the Atlanta Book Festival a couple months ago, but I was just a spectator and not a participant like I will be in Miami.  Even as a spectator it was fun to see all the different booths and different types of literature that were represented.  I got some good tips on marketing from some of the participants as well.

The marketing is the most difficult part for me, which is why I have partnered with Reader’s Magnet and other folks to help me in this area.  I know that my book, “Knowledge to Power:  Understanding and Overcoming Addiction” is a book that could help a lot of people, but the challenge is to find a way to get it into the hands of more people.  The feedback that I have gotten from readers is that this is finally a book that they can understand and relate to.  It is a book that doesn’t just point out the problem, but offers concrete actions that can help overcome the problem.  It is doing what I intended it to do, namely, help addicted people and their families.  Now, if only it can be gotten out there to more hurting people.

Even though addiction is our nation’s number one health problem, it is surprising how little most folks know about this disease.  In fact, a large number of people don’t even know that it is a disease.  They will tell you that addiction is like a disease, but not that it is a real disease.  Addiction has been recognized by the American Medical Association as a type of brain disease since 1955, but this is not generally known.

There are actual chemical changes in the brain and these changes cause the phenomenon of craving the addictive substance.  This explains why very intelligent people return to using addictive substances over and over again, despite negative consequences.  It is not that they are too stupid to see that they shouldn’t keep using; they are just too powerless to do anything about it.  In fact, addicted persons, on an average, have a higher I.Q. than the national average, but being smart doesn’t help to keep from being sick.  You can be smart as a whip and still be sick as a dog.  Conversely, you can be dumb as a post and be healthy as a horse.

Every disease, in order to be a disease has to have certain things to qualify.  There have to be symptoms, be progressive, chronic and fatal if left unchecked.  The other thing it must have is a loss of control in some area.  With a disease like diabetes, for example, there is a loss of control over how the body handles sugar.  There is no way that a diabetic can use their will-power over sugar, because that is what they don’t have.  That is what their disease knocks out.  Even a common disease like stomach flu demonstrates this lack of power and loss of control with the characteristic vomiting and diarrhea.  You can’t really use will-power for that either, because that is what the disease takes away.

Part of the reason that there is such a stigma about addiction is because there is the belief that either people are stupid or lack character or just don’t want to quit, none of which are true.  This kind of judgmental attitude by others is readily picked up on by addicted persons.  Addicts may act very insensitively and run over other people regularly in their using, but at heart, they are still very sensitive people.

It makes sense that addicts are sensitive, because if they did not feel things deeply, they would not be trying to find addictive agents to help them numb these feelings.  So, it is very fair to say that addiction is not only a spiritual disease with a lack of power, but it is also a feelings disease.  For example, if drugs and alcohol did not change the way we feel in a hurry, who would ever be interested in using them?  But there is something in these chemicals that does make us feel good in a hurry and that is what we like in this culture.

We may be the most “quick-fix” culture that the world has ever seen.  Think for a minute about the things that we have invented to do things in a hurry.  We have instant coffee, instant information on the internet, instant relationships with website dating sites, supersonic jets, microwave ovens, automatic dishwashers and even automatic toilets!  Everything has to be not only quick, but easy.  That is what addictive agents are – a quick and easy way to change the way we feel.

However, there is no sense that this quick and easy way of dealing with feelings could get out of control.  If we thought that, we obviously would never start, but it does happen.  When you combine this with the fact that most people start using addictive agents when they are young, it is doubly dangerous, because young people don’t think that they can be killed.  They are invincible – at least in their own minds.  That is why the military wants 18 and 20 year old people; they can see people shot down all around them and still be saying inside their own heads “that won’t happen to me”.  This delusion of immortality creates teens that drive wildly and take chances and do dangerous things.

But the hope is that there is a way for recovery to happen, not only for addicted people, but for their families as well.  Family members and good friends are put in a codependent position and need recovery from this as well.  Sometimes the families of addicts get sicker than the addict themselves, because the addict is anesthetized and the family members are not.  It would be like two people having surgery of some kind and one gets anesthesia and one does not.  Who is going to feel the most pain?

There is another group of people under the addictive umbrella that needs recovery too and that is people who are adults now, but grew up in a crazy, dysfunctional family riddled with addiction.  They can get well too, but it takes some work and some knowledge that leads to the power to overcome.

I have a passion to help people get well from the addictive illness, whether that is for the addict, their family or people who grew up in addiction.  I have seen some wonderful things happen to folks in all of these categories once they understood the disease and had an ongoing recovery plan.  I know that my book, “Knowledge to Power:  Understanding and Overcoming Addiction” has been very helpful to people and could be helpful to a lot more people.  I am hoping and praying that the Miami Book Fair will be a part of that process.

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