Can someone be addicted to going to a bar?
Seriously, I am talking about a person who does not drink alcohol, do any drugs, or engage in any gambling or other elicit activity. Is it possible that someone’s socialization, in and of itself, can be an addiction? Or, does an addiction require some sort of substance use or elicit behavior?
That was somewhat of the debate at a local watering hole named Water Bar in my birth village of Trafalgar in the Caribbean Island of Dominica. That is the most popular bar in the village, situated on the north side of the main road on the way to Trafalgar Falls, the most popular tourist site on the island.
Water Bar got its name from the constant flow of fresh drinking spring water that pours from one of the four sources by the roadside. It is the site for locals and others to collect fresh drinking water, shower in an enclosed area, drink directly from a running spout, wash their vehicles, soak in the roadside pool, or simply enjoy the rhythmic sounds of the flowing refreshing water and blowing trees.
Caressed in a valley with panoramic mountain ridges of between 500 to over 1000 feet in height, Water Bar features freshly cut flowers, small palm trees, an assortment of banana types, sugar cane, colorful local trees, short coconut trees, and other local plants blowing in the ever-present fresh mountain breeze.
Locals can be found at almost any time of the day between 5:45am and 2:00 am the following day or later during weekends sitting by the roadside, playing dominos, enjoying assortments of music, engaging in debates and casual conversations, roaming the internet with the open Wi-Fi, or playing cricket on Sundays.
It was there in my presence, at about 6:52 am on Thursday January 6th 2022 that a debate ensued among four men and one teenage boy at Water Bar. Some of them were impatiently awaiting Heckie the owner to open the bar so they could have their first drink for the day, purchase wrappers to roll marijuana joints, get a can of Vienna Sausage for breakfast, and otherwise to hang out. I was there gathering fresh drinking water for the day. One of the men asked Bert, the teenager, why he came to the bar so early for so many days of the week. Being the quiet young man that he is, Bert simply ignored the man.
But one of the men who grew increasingly impatient to have his first drink at the bar for the day kept probing Bert for an answer. He asked,
“Why do you keep coming at Water Bar so early for so many days of the week?”
“It is certainly not because I am an alcoholic like you,” Bert responded.
“Well maybe you are not an alcoholic, but you must be a Waterbaraholic [addict of Water Bar], because you here early all week with people you call alcoholics.”
Bert walked away, and with his eyes pointing to the toes of his bare feet with overgrown toenails, mumbled,
“You so stupid; a bar is not rum for me to be addicted to it.” They all laughed at the exchange, as Heckie arrived to open the bar.
Is Bert correct?
I did not remember that encounter until recently when Louella, my internship supervisor at Olive Branch Counselling Associates handed me a book entitled Treating Behavioral Addictions by Amanda L. Giordano. Great book by the way. I plan to write a few blogs from contents of this book, but in this visit, I simply want to pose the question at hand, and invite readers to ponder upon it, perhaps even writing a response on our blog about your thoughts.
Can someone be addicted to being at a place; in this case, a bar? If so, what will be the evidence to prove their addiction. If not, why not? Can you think of other instances where people can be addicted to forms of behavior or socialization? Is this thing called social addiction real, or not? What are your thoughts?
In a subsequent blog I will explore what various mental health professionals have to say on the topic of behavioral addictions.
If you are concerned about having a behavioral addiction, chemical addiction, or are otherwise in need of counseling, please contact me (Peter K. B. St. Jean) at Olive Branch Counselling Associates, (708) 633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street Tinley Park, IL 60477.
You can also visit us at https://www.olivebranchcounselingassociates.com for more details.
Written By: Peter S.J, Masters Level Intern