Urgency in Addictions

Urgency in Addictions
Nelson Feldman

Lacan uses the term urgency in his Rome Report: “Nothing created appears without urgency; nothing in urgency fails to surpass itself in speech.” [1]

Urgency is often the impetus to the creation of new institutional frameworks, as much in the clinic as in politics. In Switzerland in the 90s, where “open drug scenes” in Swiss German towns saw dramatic fatal drug overdoses and the HIV epidemic, they opted for the creation of a care network for drug addicts, and for reducing risks.

In addiction, every drink is always the one too many, and always the same one. J.-A. Miller calls this iteration, and not repetition, because it does not refer to either sense or meaning; it is pure jouissance. The subject addresses himself to someone in order to complain, but does not question the sense or the meaning of what it affords him. “The subject is at that point linked to a cycle of repetition, whose separate instances cannot be added up and the experiences teach him nothing. This is what one calls addiction today. And one calls it addiction precisely because it is not an addition.” [2]

Addiction often seems like a solution and not the problem for the “addict” subject, who does not come to seek help for a long time. But at a particular moment the “solution” does not work anymore and becomes problematic. It is then that the subject takes a step in order to seek help, in an “urgent” manner. Urgent can reveal itself at the level of the body that does not resist anymore, as well as in the surfacing of anxiety, the motor of subjective urgency and a demand to address the Other.

The reception of this urgency, starting from the subject’s speech in a clinic under transference, is fundamental. It differs from the application of a pre-established protocol, which is widespread in institutions and can freeze up the coordinates of the treatment.

Translated by Natalie Wülfing

1 Lacan, J., “Function and Field of Speech and Language”, Écrits, Norton, New York/London, 2006, p. 201.

2 J.-A. Miller, “L’orientation lacanienne. L’Un tout seul”, course delivered within the framework of the Department of Psychoanalysis, University of Paris 8, class of 23 March 2011, unpublished.