love is the cure for addiction

I came across this Huffington Post article about addiction the other day, shared on Facebook by Australia 21, which appears to be a progressive think-tank.

Whatever they are is irrelevant — they shared this article about addiction and it was a real game-changer for me, an addict.

It is a game-changer for me because the author, Johann Hari, puts forward a theory that explains in words a feeling i have long had (as an addict) about addiction being a symptom of our culture, rather than drugs being a cause of addiction. I mean addiction causes problems, sure, but ignoring the causes of addiction is a problem in itself.

Common sense, no?

This article gives me much hope that we are moving toward greater understanding — of ourselves, and of what Western so-called civilisation is missing to such an extent we are all addicted to something.

What we are missing is access to spiritual succour, to love — connection to each other, and to nature. We can change this, because we are becoming aware of it. So there is much hope for much love. Yes yes yes!

Below are some exceprts from the article that really resonated with me.

This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

In the article he describes how rats left alone in a cage with only heroin for company will consume the heroin until they die. Because they are lonely and heroin is their only friend. Put rats in cage with heroin among other things to play with, including each other, and the heroin loses its persuasive power.

They actually did this. The heroin-laced playground was called Rat Park, and Johann Hari makes a good analogy between the isolated rats in a cage and the way many of us conduct our lives in the West — alone, isolated from one another and nature, driven by the lie we’ve been told about the invisible hand of self-interest:

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

By identifying that our lack of connection is a major cause of addiction, we can see:

we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

We are addicts because we are lonely, and sometimes it seems that drugs are our only friend. We need something like Rat Park — the Garden City movement is an interesting place to look if you’re interested in how we might recreate a human-size version.

Detractors of this theory will pull out the chemical-addiction card, saying shit like “It’s not our/society’s fault — these junkies chose to inject chemicals and now they’re hooked.” Like i suspected, this argument is probably Bullshit:

Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me — you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks.

I like a good, open-minded qualifier in an argument, so i was heartened to read on:

the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

After describing a decriminalistion case in Portugal, he says:

They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society.

At this point i’m thinking, Der. Demonise drug addicts by arresting them and throwing them into cells with each other, where they will learn to be yet-more-ruthless drug criminals because they are isolated from a loving society: nice one, the West.

Instead,

we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

And finally, as if that were not profound enough, the conclusion of this article is so beautiful. But have a look — i don’t want to spoil it for you.

 

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16 thoughts on “love is the cure for addiction

  1. It made me so teary, especially the ending of the article. Thank you for sharing! I’m really glad it helped you too 🙂 Sending some love in the spirit of your post!

    • Isn’t it such a moving article! It makes me emotional too, to feel we are moving toward acceptance of and understanding of this most-debilitating condition, addiction. Thank you for sending your love — being love, it flows through me, amplifies, and returns to you in an infinite positive-feedback loop. Yes yes yes!

  2. Funny how I’ve been reading on the exact same subject today (and the day before). It even gave me awful nightmares tonight.

    Particularly yesterday, a 2008 speech by Dr. Gabor Mate on “The Human Face of Addictive Behavior” completely flipped my views on …well, pretty much everything, ranging from human history to mine, through education and even the worldwide perception on general culture. To be honest I am starting to worry a lot.

    I hear ya, how’s not to worry? Over the years Western society seems to put a lot of bias upon our personal priorities in life, to such extent that we’ve been confusing the very purpose of love on Earth. For years I have tried to explain to others (even to my own father, in vain) that only the right kind of love would save them all from their miseries created around them. What baffles me is they don’t seem to get the true meaning of it at all, as if a blindfold was put on them, right as they plunged, face down, into the ocean of society. They act as if I am the one who understands nothing.
    (The familiar pattern of the ignorant, seen here?)

    I am actually a very fine example myself. Young recluse, been for several years now. I could never reach love anywhere because of the stupidity I described up above. It gave me a bad case of lead poisoning (figurative, SoF quote =), so much that now I can’t even stand people. I can’t work for anyone. I can’t go to school. I constantly hate everyone for what “they” did to us and I can’t explain anything to anyone. I can’t help it. We live in a crazy world, man. And I’m damn lucky if I made it off with almost no addictions at all (thank poverty, ironic again).

    Since recently, my best decision ever has been to confine myself even further from my ..”friends”, explore virtual worlds & realms, be on sites like yours (and undeniably Eckhart’s).
    It goes without saying that I gradually renounce any and all hope of affection in such a crippled society. Maybe I’ll find a few ants like me to love my way up, but then again, it will only be just that, a few ants.

    So yeah, go figure. Our system is playing with fire.
    (Oh dear word play!)
    There IS a lot to worry about, and the ones with the voice of truth very often dwell deep, down in the dark caves of abysmal misanthropy.

    *sigh*
    Knowing is caring. So still, have a nice one. Couldn’t agree more with what I learned this week, can’t even find any tears. Cheers.

    • Mate, i hear you — i hear you calling from the bottom of that abyss. I’ve been there. Misanthropy — it’s a killer. But there is hope. I’ll write back at length when i can.

      • Well, eh it’s the first time something like this happens.
        Laugh all you want! I know, it’s that sad. That’s the damn life irony. Not being able to explain something is like… jeez, your whole damn chest ripping off. A planet freaking locked in orbit, man.
        The only time someone understood my life position was one of my good friends, on LSD. For like 5-10 seconds, then he said he left that state immediately. Frequencies? What a peculiar humanity. Go damn figure.
        Simplicity. hahaha!

        So yeah, thanks a freaking lot, ..I guess…

        If there is hope I do not know what color or taste it has. You see to me it’s a little bit like love. Everyone talks and lives it, but in practice, you have no bloody idea what to look for. To me it always sounded like some kind of divine joke (no I didn’t read the book…lol), or godlike prank. (I call them ‘mindfucks’ because only YOU live it but it’s fucking there. hahahaha) So I’ll keep, uh, “looking”. So far, I’ve been reading.

        But one day, I’m gonna be too old for all of this crap.

        Nowadays? Such knowledge is heavy to carry for one dude, so now it feels like a rollercoaster. (a lonely, scary one.)
        On other occasions, russian roulette. No, I didn’t sign up for this shit.

        ..or did I? (I hope not!!) Ah, Hell with it all! Have a good day now y’all.

      • Heya … Egor, is it (i saw that on your SoundCloud link you logged in with, i guess)? I’ve been thinking of you because i’ve been meaning to write back, but i haven’t really been in much of a headspace for communication lately, even with people IRL. The truth is i’ve been meditating a lot because my mind has been getting the better of me and it starts to fuck with me physiologically these days, if i don’t counter it with something like meditation (cycling is also good … and sex … though it’s hard to come by where i’m currently dossing down). And the meditation leaves me feeling even more insular and introverted than i normally am. So I’ve been meaning to get back to this here backend of this metaphysical playground i call FluxComb and catch up with your and other comments before i go IN for a while, prepare for hibernation (it’s coming into mid-Autumn here), because mostly i just play here and it’s not really a real blog because i have no actual plan for it, and no real system for dealing with responses, each and every one of which surprise me, that anyone is out there reading these ditties. I guess i have been feeling hesitant about getting back to your earlier comment because i don’t really know what it’s about, how to respond. I wondered if you have a blog somewhere i can checkout. I’ll checkout your soundcloud, that’s for sure — i’m always keen for new music.

        Meanwhile, i just feel compelled to say again that i hear/feel you … that much i know. But i can’t really respond intellectually, you know what i mean? There’s nothing i could write to you that would leave you feeling i do understand where you’re coming from. I’m not on LSD right now and i’m not a good friend sitting next to you on LSD, but i am a being who is connected to you through consciousness and who, it seems, has had experiences that are very similar to yours (the hermitude, the mindfucks, the creeping suspicion that love is just one big joke made up by Hallmark to get us to buy into the idea that anything outside us could ever really make us happy, lest we actually look inside and find we have all we need in there and therefore Hallmark and all those other motherfucking arseholes can go suck a fuck, as i fondly recall from Donnie Darko).

        All i can say is keep looking — it’s in there. Keep creating/mixing/drifting/whatever it takes to process whatever it is you’re experiencing. You’d probably like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, if you haven’t already read it and if you’re up for unsolicited book recommendations. It’s a mindbender that digs deep into where we went wrong in the development of human thought, and the author goes into this idea he has called “drifting”, which is essentially a poetic justification for letting go of the wheel for however long it takes in life to finally bump into That Thing we’re looking for, for letting go of the idea we must be Doing Something. That’s how i read it anyway. I dunno, just every time i hear someone use the word “drifting” i think they would like the book. It’s one of those books i could read a hundred times and never really understand. The author himself doesn’t really understand it — the poor bastard (a former professional philosopher) went crazy when he was developing the central thesis, so the *rich* bastards zapped him until he became “normal” again, and after that he couldn’t remember the thesis … the book we have now from the author is his tortured attempt to reconstruct the thesis in a narrative form, while he rides a touring motorcycle around America with his son. I might have just told you a whole bunch of shit you already know. I don’t know.

        Anyway, peace bro. I hope you start finding what you’re looking for, and feel free to drop in here for a chat or whatever whenever, or drop me a line at bodhiabhijan @ gmail [dot] com and i’ll do my best to not fail to respond — i’m terrible at long-distance internet communication. Which is why i thought it would be a good idea to set up with a blog :/ … sorry, again with the irony … it’s a habit that dies hard.

        Take care man,

        Abhijan

      • Very interesting, I did not even expect such a possibility of communication. Despite my share I’m willing to admit that my knowledge is quite limited in several cultural aspects. Though what you said reached me on a level of deepness I did not even think possible on the Internet, (from where I stand, it’s something typical!) references you have which I am not aware of (and your interpretation of them) greatly help me through acceptance myself. Some choices made to preserve identity are very hard to accept.

        (Indeed there is so much to talk about, but there is also so much to do. So we are caught up, and it’s cool really, to be aware of what we have now. To help us on our way on.)

        That’s why I don’t have a blog. I guess I sacrifice the time I’m spending here, right now, to continue playing/creating/mixing/tuning stuff and computers and worlds. But in the end what am I really doing, man. And here you help me realize it does make sense because (I never thought I’d write this) ultimately it makes you who you are, who I am right now, writing this text, to preserve your genuine identity. I’ve been fighting for something I didn’t know for so long, and now I see reason behind so much frustration (inexplicable at the time!) of my entire childhood. To be honest, I’ve been waiting for things to make sense for a long time. At least a little…

        So there is really no dire need to respond intellectually. As such, you’re telling me so: there may be no dire need to know everything about culture (though damn, it is interesting but it all takes time and there’s just so much of it!), or there may be no dire need to live in the material plane, owning a car or always having a real system. All in good time, and we do have something of a timeless, intangible tissue here which is composed of pure understanding, mysterious connectedness, …synchronicity, all in good time… raising my doubts on whether its scientific analysis would be necessary – let alone possible – for worldwide union and peace. Experiences like the very ours prove and show what we all miss out on, beyond even space, and we shall combat our fears and addictions and win or lose, reclaiming what we lost, ourselves.
        The very real system. (Oh god zap me already! Bad psychoscientist!)

        This culture, richness is already in us. It is so powerful we can not even prove it. Yet, we seek answers from it in order to save ourselves. That’s so romantic. (oh not this…)

        Drifting, I’ll definitely won’t forget to look up your post, I’m caught up myself in my stuff, finding a safe place to live’s been hard enough. Hope you go well, my soundcloud page has a lot of freaking deep stuff that I shared but myself I like mixcloud streaming. =P

        Maybe the most powerful game on all this freaking zombies-from-outer-space crazy shit talk (and nothing ever made any more sense than this!!) we’re having here is Al an Wake, especially Am erican Nightm are (in our context). That one was a starter kit for me, to becoming aware, stuck without people like you around.
        What a lack! *vomits guts&shit* xD

        till we meet again… lol

  3. The article makes me happy because it doesn’t just blame drugs for the choices that people make – each person is responsible for his or her own decisions, even if they feel that they “can’t”. What a beautiful article – was really emotional for me too.

    • Oh no, a connection between internet and the creeping age of loneliness — this might confirm my dad’s suspicions that the internet is bad for us.

      I think you know this subject is near and dear to my heart, as a digital nomad who has currently stopped for a time in a part of Australia where my nearest connection to people is a country-town nightclub called Barrels.

      Nonetheless i have big hopes for internet authenticity. Thanks for sharing the article. I’ll try to read it soon and get back to you with thoughts. As i said to Egor above though, i’m getting ready to go IN for the winter — it’s hibernation time. And i’m terrible at maintaining long-distance internet communication. And i don’t have a system for reminding me to read all the inspiring/challenging things to be found on the internet these days, or to respond to the people i meet in this space, such as your fine self.

      I wonder though: how did you get on with the Richard Flanagan book?

      • Barrels sounds like an intriguing club… “country-town”, good expression. It’s coming winter over there, aye, I forgot. Do you stay outback all winter or hibernate elsewhere? Curious-like… how cold does it get? How do you manage, i.e. food, heat? Ha! So many questions and you may not see them awhile…
        The internet can be freedom or restriction – it depends on the person. Travel the middle path, don’t use it too little, or too often, and I think we’re fine. If our lives are balanced by other interests, I feel okay about it. If one is infatuated and too reliant, it’s a bit freaky, like something else is controlling one’s actions/thoughts. I feel the same about watching the news on TV – too negative, therefore forces my mind towards negativity.
        Books, books… just picked up another two – Into Thin Air and Moranthology. I’ve only reached chapter 8 of Flannagan’s book – and they’re not long chapters. Took me a while to understand the lingo at the beginning though.
        I’ll take it with me now and read on the bus, if the roads not too windy, lol. Peace x

  4. Pingback: Ryan Bodhi Abhijan, forager to the stars | Flux Comb

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