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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introducing Adventures in Sobriety

my face - happy, no?

my face – happy, no?

This is my face. In Turkey. It was around this time that i stepped onto the slippery slop that eventually became the spiral that fell into the despair of a three-month long rum and pot binge. I am only now beginning to face up to the fact i have some rather serious addiction issues. See me! Quite the happy chappy, apparently. Well, looks can be deceiving. Please be aware that your friends might not be as happy as they appear, and be gentle. I started this series of posts called Adventures in Sobriety, but then i got high. But then i got clean again.

It is from this place of sobriety + self-love that i begin to share my journey into sobriety and well-being with you, my beloved friends. I have a lot more of this in my journal, which I will type and publish when I feel able to do so. Thank you for all your love and patience over the years. I’m getting better through self-healing, and I love you all.

*weeps with relief*

getting home drunk

Trawling my journal this morning in search of anything approximating coherent, linear, sensical longhand narrative, i came across this, which could be an aphorism:

One of the fundamental things i know about getting home is it’s hard to do so when you’re drunk.

Insightful, no?

It goes on:

It’s fun to zig-zag your way around the streets when you’re 20-something, but as you enter the 30s you realise it’s lonely and cold outside, where you’ll most likely wind up if you don’t sober up and get home.

Day Two, THC Amputee

Sunday 25 January
Renmark, South Australia

Day Two of my Adventures in Sobriety series,
in which i look around to find a bong where there shouldn’t be one.

Today is better, and i have this feeling it may only get easier from here—

that’s probably an addict’s delusion, and more likely so because although an addict might one day [find staying] clean a piece of cake (that’s how my draft reads, so i’m going to roll with it), and another day find sobriety [read: reality] a seemingly insurmountable trial.

But surely the first day is hardest—or the third … eek! That’s tomorrow.  Continue reading

Day One, Adventures in Sobriety

Saturday 24 January
Renmark, South Australian

Day One of my Adventures in Sobriety,
in which i renege on the first day of my resolution to not smoke marijuana

I am reluctant to say this, but i’m calling today Day One, the first day of dragging myself away from the pot-hazed fugue my life has been for the last month or more.

I was tempted to use Ground Zero, because i do feel i have a clean slate, though nothing explosive or catastrophic has happened.

We read all the time about people who cleaned up their act after some disastrous event, usually by doing something drastic and out of their league—right now i’m reading Wild, the story of a 26-year-old woman who walked the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother suddenly died and her family imploded.

I don’t really have that, the whole drastic-premise thing: my experience has been more of a slow-burn of ever-increasing disillusionment with what is typically offered us as a way to live, and a growing sense that i need to do something to drag myself back to life, to find the alternative way of living that is most conducive to my wellbeing, and therefore least conducive to relapse.

It’s a long road, but i’ve never been one to take short cuts. Continue reading

The Thing About John Updike

The thing about John Updike is, I found yet another inspiring post on Brain Pickings recently, about John Updike and some ideas of his about writing and death, and how various things we do (addictions, writing) are merely ways of avoiding accepting the reality of nothingness, of our imminent demise and the likelihood our death will be our extermination.

Happy stuff.

It was inspiring because I really like to think of a guy who’s dedicated himself to writing and contemplation,

and contemplation is a key qualifier to writing here, because lots of people write, but there is a way of writing purposefully and meaningfully that I think adds an extra dimension of importance to writing,

and that is to use writing as a tool for contemplation.

Continue reading