Addiction: A Deep Look

Dr Bryan Articles

A Deeper Look

We all have our little addictions. That beer at the end of the day. The chocolate after you’ve put the kids to bed. The coffee in the morning. Or, more severely, the pack of cigarettes each day, or the bottle of Johnny each night.
Addiction is a part of our lives (as much as we don’t want to admit it). And is it really a problem? ..well no, unless it is.

Addiction can be seen as a symptom of a deeper issue. Research is now emerging as to the insignificance of the actual substance in addiction, and the much greater role of general wellbeing and community support. There is a story of American soldiers in Vietnam during the war. It is estimated that up to 20% the soldiers that were deployed in Vietnam were addicted to heroin/opium. The government anticipated a major public health crisis when these men returned home. Can you imagine? Thousands of previously healthy young men returning to their families as junkies with a hopeless substance dependence.
What they found instead was that when these men returned home, 95% of them gave up heroin practically overnight. There are many such examples. It is not an accident that it is the most vulnerable members of our society that tend towards serious and harmful addiction.

Our little brain receptors are not helpless against the addictive forces of heroin/cocaine/coffee/sugar. It is the situation that we may be escaping from that is key. When we are vulnerable, then we are vulnerable. Therefore when we are not loved, not in a community, not happy, isolated, stressed out, going against that which we know is right, we turn to that which will give us comfort/escape – enter the ‘drug’.

When we look at our everyday lives, and the little addictions that might not be doing our health much good, how else can we deal with this? Stress happens. Isolation happens. Loneliness happens. These are elements of our emotional landscape which we all have to deal with. We can look to comfort from more helpful sources. We can seek calm through meditation. We can monitor our stress levels. We can put effort into strong and healthy family relationships or community involvement. We can not beat ourselves up for that little bit of chocolate.

So look at what it is you feel ‘addicted’ to. First ask yourself, within the scope of my life, is this really a problem? Is that chocolate at the end of the day really worth beating myself up over? How much better do I feel physically when I don’t have the beer everyday?
If the answer is yes/much!, then ask yourself “what am I seeking from this from this experience?”
If it is sugar, do you need more sweetness, or a connection to childhood fun? If it is coffee, do you need more excitement, more stimulation. How else could you source this?
Then take a wider view of your life situation. Are you supported? Are you connected to those around you? Could you help others more? Could you forge deeper emotional relationships?

If addiction is a serious problem in your life, please access help through Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Johann Hari is a speaker and researcher that has done a lot of work in the area of addiction. You can see his talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas here.

In health and happiness.
If you need any other help with your health, we offer chiropractic, massage and acupuncture. You can reach us on 0296726892.