This post was inspired, as sometimes happens, by Jon Carroll's column in today's San Francisco Chronicle. Mr. Carroll wrote an extended fantasy on what might have been the process by which Marion Jones chose to take performance-enhancing drugs, and the mental processes by which she supported and justified not only the drug-taking but the fact that she had to hide it (because it was illegal). I recommend the column, the analysis is brilliant. But it startled me, because on the same day it was published, I read and commented on my husband's extended (29 page) analysis of his life, and his experiences with compulsive/addictive behaviors (first bulimia and then alcoholism), how he got into them, and how he has gotten out of them.
The scary thing about the fantasized thinking of the person lying about sports drug abuse and the real thinking of the bulimic or alcoholic, documented in my husband's account, is how close they are.
It isn't really that bad. People make too much of this. Besides, I'm in control; I don't really have a problem.
I seem to recall from Mr. Carroll's much earlier columns that he himself had an issue with alcoholism, which he has overcome; I wonder if he consciously remembered any of that when he wrote this piece.
The question, of course, is: to what was Ms. Jones addicted? She seems to be displaying addictive behavior, but the substances she took aren't addictive in the normal sense. I've never heard that you get withdrawal symptoms from quitting taking steroids, or whatever. I have to conclude that she was addicted to: fame. She liked being Numbah One. She convinced herself that she would have been Numbah One anyway, and the drugs didn't really make that much difference. Except that they did.