Franz Kafka once said: “My peers, lately, have found companionship through means of intoxication – it makes them sociable. I, however, cannot force myself to use drugs to cheat on my loneliness – it is all that I have – and when the drugs and alcohol dissipate, will be all that my peers have as well.” He might not have known it, but Kafka touched one of the most profound causes of addiction. In fact, modern researchers are stating that the primary cause of most addictions is lack of human connection.
Johann Hari, the author of Chasing the Scream – The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, states in an article on the Huffington Post: “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”
The theory is that one of the substantial causes of becoming addicted to a particular activity is the lack of human bonds. Some people feel like they need to compensate with other factors such as alcohol or other activities in which they feel better and seem to be filling the gap. In a certain sense, they are creating their own adult version of a pacifier.
Hari explains in one of his well-known TED-talks: “Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond. And when we’re happy and healthy we’ll bond and connect with each other. But if you can’t do that — because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life — you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now that might be gambling, that might be pornography, that might be cocaine, that might be cannabis, but you will bond and connect with something because that’s our nature, that’s what we want as human beings.”
So, addiction can essentially be defined as a sort of bonding and bandage for a need of closeness. Of course, when an addiction starts controlling you and taking over your life it causes more emotional damage than good.
Hari states: “For a hundred years now we’ve been singing war songs about addicts. I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them. Because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”
The next time you’ll encounter a person with an addiction, try to empathize before you judge. After all, the root of their problem is the lack of connection and closeness.
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