Earlier this morning, I watched what I think is a ground breaking TED talk video about understanding addiction. Whereas the speaker addresses the greater problem of addiction to drugs, I feel that the reasoning for what leads to addiction in the first place, applies to all of us. I wanted to explore how this may be manifesting in our day to day lives.
Johann Hari argues that the cause of addiction is separation. As soon as I heard this, it made complete sense. Here’s why.
Those of us leading normal lives (or so it would seem from the outside anyway) may find ourselves going straight to alcohol or drugs when we hear the word addiction. It seems so far removed from our own behaviour patterns. Yet today’s world is a very different place from the world of ten years ago even.
Whether we realise it or not, to some degree, we are addicted to social media, to angling for instant gratification and to the charm of living a big life. Today’s drug of choice is celebrity and in the virtual digital platform that we have collectively created, everyone can look like a star. What greater hook can there be?
While the digital age has brought us together in so many ways, it has simultaneously rendered it less likely for us to connect in person. I don’t think we fully comprehend the importance of person to person communication. The layers of nuances, emotional and energetic cannot be substituted through technology, no matter how apt the icons. In my opinion we are losing much more here than we realise.
Whether we decide to reward ourself with a dessert at the end of a gruelling work day or turn on the T.V. to fill up an empty house; whether we find ourself searching for our phone as we step into a room full of strangers or buy a designer piece in order to boost our self image, we are essentially reacting to the same feeling: lack.
And lack descends directly from feeling disconnected and alone.
Johann points out that when instead of judging and separating the addicts, measures were taken to help integrate them back into society as contributing members, it completely changed the game. The numbers of addicts dropped by fifty percent. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, he concludes, it’s connection.
Which one of us has not reached for an external reward to make us feel better or more at some point or another? Our personal sense of well being is anchored undeniably in feeling safe, being heard and in belonging. As always the answer lies in the lack of judgement and complete acceptance.