Many view addicts’ use of substances and related behaviors as a choice. People who have addiction may have made a decision at one time to use a drug, but they never made a decision to become addicted. The addict’s brain was different before the first use of a drug, and scientific evidence has shown many of the significant ways the brain changes in response to chronic exposure to mood-altering drugs. According to Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “the evidence suggests that those long-lasting brain changes are responsible for the distortions of cognitive and emotional functioning that characterize addicts, particularly the compulsion to use drugs that is the essence of addiction.” Even if you never used a substance in the past and only started taking medication for your chronic pain, you may develop addiction. Just as an addict who uses for the first time is not choosing to become addicted, an individual with chronic pain who takes his or her first prescription would never choose and never intend to become addicted. For those of you who are resistant to exploring the possibility that you are addicted, the issue may be getting past the stigma of addiction and letting go of the need to be better than an addict. Addiction is a no-fault illness, just like chronic pain. At this point we don’t want you to get stuck on whether or not you have addiction, but rather to focus on solutions to your problems. If you spend your energy trying to prove you are not an addict, you will limit the benefits you may receive. Treatment providers may have very little interest in labeling you. Typically, they are committed to helping you. You will decide for yourself in the long run. If you are unsure at this point, we suggest you try a perspective such as “I am not sure if I am an addict or not, but I will have a clearer picture if I do the exercises and complete this workbook,” or “Even if I decide I am not an addict, the solutions to addiction and chronic pain are so similar that I will benefit from this process and from applying what I learn to my life,” or even “I think this is crazy, but I admit my way hasn’t worked so far, so what do I have to lose?” For right now, try to suspend judgments and do the work. The closer you get to balance, the clearer things will become. This blog post is an excerpt from Pain Recovery – How to Find Balance and Reduce Suffering from Chronic Pain by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM, Frank Szabo, LADC, Daniel Shiode, PhD, Robert Hunter, PhD; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).