Monday, August 03, 2009

Addiction: The Fine Line Between a Hobby and a Habit

By Pauly
Denver, CO

The problem with being an addict is that you can't stop. I should clarify that... it's because you don't want to stop due to a physical and/or psychological dependency.

That glorious feeling when you sink down to the warmest and comfortable levels of inebriation is what you've been waiting for all day. The rest of your time was utter hell while waiting for the opportunity to self-medicate. And that can addiction with anything... cigarettes, playing catch with your kid, soaking your sorrows in booze, meditating in yoga class, shooting heroin, cooking dinner, gobbling pills, going to a prayer group, or playing online poker.

Moderation is the key to successful excess but the greatest pleasure in life are those bursting with excess. That's why a city like Las Vegas is often the locale for some of the most extravagant moments in your life and conversely, it's also the location from some of the lowest and humiliating moments. But as one of my my fraternity brothers said it best, "In order to win big... you gotta (be willing to) lose big."

I'm an addict in some many things in life. It's in my nature to wander over the double yellow line of moderation on the highway of life. I find it easy to maintain self-control in many areas, but there are a handful of instances where I struggle immensely with those issues. Therein lies my weaknesses and serious flaws in my character. I'm nowhere near being perfect. Until I reel in those life leaks, I will never evolve and reach my full potential. Then again, if I ever do plug those life leaks, then I'll cease to lose my originality and I'll become a completely different person. After all, it's our addictions which dictate our decisions and make up our personalities.

There are somethings (drugs/booze or different forms of gambling) that don't appeal to me one bit. I can be around them at all times and not be tempted. I enjoy a fine ale and cocktail, but there are periods of time when I got days and weeks without a sip. I can sit or stand in a bar and not drink and still have a good time (although most of the time, I probably just lit up a doobie or might be on some sort of pharmaceutical cocktail). I can walk through a casino, especially the pits, and not feel like a slave to my addictions.

TJ Cloutier is a sad, yet humorous cliche. Everyone in poker knows that he's an accomplished poker player (Hall of Famer and best player from his era to have never won the Main Event) but his weakness is craps. He literally cannot walk past a craps table without having a roll and then losing his shirt. It's sort of like an alkie who can't walk past a bar without stopping in for a drink.

These days TJ has been using one of those scooters to get around. Although he might have a legit medical excuse for the scooter, he looks able bodied and able to walk around without any problems. The big joke among my friends was that TJ got the scooter so he can get from the Amazon Ballroom to the craps table as fast as possible. I've seen it happen plenty of times... TJ wandered through the room and found someone to give him a couple of hundred bucks and then he hopped on his scooter and sped all the way down the convention center, past the Hooker Bar, and right up to the craps tables.

TJ will be a degenerate craps player until the day he dies. Sadly, he'll be known mostly for his utter weakness rather than be known for his achievements.

I'm dumbfounded by my ability to avoid many more dangerous and addictive substances when I cannot say not to lesser ones. I cannot fathom how I'm able to maintain a rigid discipline towards writing, yet I'm unable to apply a similar method to other areas of deviancy in my life. It's one thing for me to say that I have major character flaw when it comes to addictions, but after a closer examination, it seems as though I don't have an addictive personality, rather there are odd things that I find myself addicted to.

Some addictions have ebbs and flows. I'm able to stomp out those burning desires and itches most of the time, but there are other days when I'm unable to control myself. I used to think that it was much easier to dive head first into the abyss than exhibit self-restraint. After all, everyone wants to seek pleasure rather than stifle it, but these days, it's far more easier to maintain control than it is to jump head first into addiction... mainly because you know that the pleasure comes with one long list of consequences.

And there is nothing more worse in life that juggling multiple addictions. At some point, one of those balls is going to drop and when it does, all hell comes bursting through the doors.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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