Stephen King on Addiction

I am reading “Stephen King On Writing,” a part memoir and lessons for writers. While I cherish the lessons on writing, his definition of addiction is too good to pass up. His addictions were many; however, regardless of the addiction, you will find the core of the pull is the same.

About his alcohol addiction:
“How much do you drink?” The counselor asked. “All of it,” he said as if that should have been self-evident. I’m struck by disbelief when I see someone in a restaurant with a half-finished glass of wine near at hand. I want to get up, go over, and yell “Finish that! Why don’t you finish that?” – if you didn’t want to get drunk why not just have a Coke?

My nights during the last five years of my drinking always ended with the same ritual: I’d pour any beers left in the refrigerator down the sink. If I didn’t, they’d talk to me as I lay in bed until I got up and had another. And another. And one more.

About his intervention, he says:
I bargained because that’s what addicts do. I was charming because that’s what addicts are. In the end I got two weeks to think about it. In retrospect, this seems to summarize all the insanity of that time. Guy is standing on top of a burning building. Helicopter arrives, hovers, drops a rope ladder. “Climb up!” The man leaning out of the helicopter’s door shouts. Guy on top of the burning building responds, “Give me two weeks to think about it.”

Crazy right? All of it is on point.

In my own experience with food addiction, I could not leave a bite behind. Full was not a measure of when to stop eating. I would stop when the food was gone, despite the impending aftermath. I could not sleep at night if I knew there was just one piece of cake left, two cookies left, or a scoop of ice cream left. My mind would clamor on until it was gone.

The stall for intervention is one played out by anyone trying to change habits or start new ones. ”I will start on Monday” has made Monday the day that begins with promise and intention and ends in failure for millions. The only reprieve is the promise or threat to start the following Monday again. For an addict finding the bottom, where change happens, is a free fall. A jump off a rocky cliff, breaking tree limbs, bouncing off ledges, and only pulling the cord when the injury is so significant that it would end in their demise. Having someone else pull your cord in an intervention is rarely successful and never satisfying. The only thing worse than knowing how dire your situation is is someone you love telling you how bad you have made their situation.

Thank you, Stephen King, for the great book and your superpower to make words come to life in your life and ours.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: