HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell is a best selling author with a new book called Addict Nation. The out lesbian has been a recovering addict herself for over 15 years. Jane chatted Nunn on One about her current "Issues."
Windy City Times: Hello, Jane. How are you?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Excellent.
WCT: Have you been busy with all the book promotions?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: I have been. It has been adventurous but a little hectic. I am trying to not descend into my addictive behavior from the stress of it. It's always a challenge.
WCT: Well, you will be pleased to know that I gave up drinking for the New Year.
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Congratulations! That is wonderfulif you gave it up for the right reasons. Some people give it up for weight loss or any number of reasons.
WCT: That is just the bonus. Tell me about your "blueprint for change."
Jane Velez-Mitchell: I am a recovering alcoholic and I will get to 16 years by April 1. I do it one day at a time. As I got into sobriety I noticed over the years that other people were behaving very addictively but not just about alcohol or smoking. I noticed a pattern of behavior in people. The first place I noticed was in generic consumption and buying stuff. People, myself included, come home every day with shopping bags full of things. Is this making us happier? No! I decided to hold a consumers anonymous meeting. It was like a recovery meeting but about consumption. People started relating stories about buying items at a superstore and making themselves feel better. Did they really need to buy two cases of water bottles?
WCT: I doubt it.
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Everybody started sharing very emotionally. To me, addiction is getting a craving, it overpowers you, binge on it, then begin to feel the remorse. The remorse wears off and the craving comes back. The thing about addiction is that it gets more pronounced over time and the reason is that we as addicts build up a tolerance and need more of the same to get the same rush or kick. It always gets worse and worse until the point of crisis. Hopefully the person hits bottom and can see themselves more objectively.
WCT: Then what did you start to learn from research?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: I started looking at other behaviors. Celebrities were keeling over from prescription drug overdose. By talking to experts, I realized celebrities are just the tip of the iceberg. Prescription drug overdoses have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death! This is a huge crisis. Yet it has not been acknowledged as the crisis that it is because it is medicine.
WCT: People don't even realize that it is a problem.
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Yes; then, I started looking at food. Two thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. People are eating addictively. It was so clear to me. The most dangerous addictions are the ones that we don't even acknowledge.
WCT: I agree with that.
Jane Velez-Mitchell: People are still talking about being overweight is a lifestyle choice and it really isn't. It is addiction, plain and simple. People are bringing all kinds of products in their homes, which I call a blended cross-addiction. This can be even with cleaning products. We know that plain old soap and water kill 99 percent of germs. People are now using products that were used in hospitals to the point where kids are developing asthma and allergies because they have not been exposed to the healthy germs that build resistance.
WCT: I have never heard that before.
Jane Velez-Mitchell: I go into a whole chapter in my book how these products then go into our eco system and pollute. The irony is that while we are cleaning, we are actually making the world a dirtier place.
WCT: That is something to think about.
Jane Velez-Mitchell: I basically outline 12 addictive behaviors that are not usually acknowledged as addictions. It is a wake-up call. The bad news is that we are not only enslaved into these terrible self-destructive behaviors that are making us high, in debt, depressed and overweight but we are also making a handful of people very rich. We are told for our economy to be stronger we all have to buy products. The average American is not getting rich off of this. The rich are getting richer because they are encouraging our addictive behavior. Television ads foster the addictive mindset. We live in a society that encourages people to be addictive across the board.
WCT: What other addictions do you mention?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Internet porn, which is a huge addiction. It is really destroying relationships. Once a person gets addicted to this a real flesh and blood partner is not likely to do all the kinky things that is being watched on a daily basis. Gambling is another one. The Internet supersizes our addictions so if you have a tendency toward gambling or porn then it is like having a brothel or casino 24 hours a day!
WCT: What do you recommend people do?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: The first step in any recovery problem is to admit that your life has become unmanageable and you are powerless over the substance of choice or the behavior. For example, [ take ] fast food. People should admit that they are powerless to not go through a drive thru and not touch it. Studies have shown that fast food is addictive. Look at kidsthey love it an early age.
WCT: Do you have kids yourself?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: No, I don't. I have two little rescue dogs. Those are my kids.
WCT: You are partnered, right?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: I do have a girlfriend. We have not decided to call each other partners yet.
WCT: Your show, Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell, is still going strong?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Yes. It has been more than 10 years now and we cover a lot of the subjects we have talked about today. In fact I am covering different chapters in the book starting this week.
WCT: People should check it out. You have already won the two Green Thumbs Up awards for your book.
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Yes, it is a blueprint for green living. I hope everyone reads Addict Nation. I defy anyone who lives in the United States to not identify with some of the addictions listed in this book.
The book Addict Nation: an Intervention for America can be purchased at www.addictnation.org .