What’s your role in addiction?
Ever been a passenger in a vehicle where someone else was driving in a way that felt reckless? You just want them to stop and allow you to take the wheel. It’s a nightmarish situation; probably not uncommon to many passengers in South African taxis nowadays. You feel helpless, like a victim of a situation where you have no control. That’s just like an addiction.
The ‘you’ that knows better is ‘high-jacked’ by another force, experienced as a craving, that somehow cannot be satisfied. And in that desperate moment the desire becomes all-consuming. The ‘you’ that knows better, fades momentarily from your awareness – until later, when the remorse and shame sets in.
Now this might sound like the experience of being addicted is pretty extreme. Not so; many folks don’t even realise when they are addicted. Whether it is to alcohol, Face Book, smoking, living in the alternative realities of computer games, gambling, drugs, technology, overeating, shopping, or even shoplifting; the symptom is a compulsive behaviour that drives the satisfaction of the craving. This applies even when the craving remains unconscious. That person has been high-jacked. Something else is ‘driving the bus’. And this is not necessarily only the experience of down-and-outs, such as life’s strugglers, it can happen to anyone.
Believe it or not, the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud was addicted to cocaine. The famous English author Charles Dickens was addicted to opium. Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson were addicted to barbiturates; and that ultimately killed them, just like it also killed Prince and Whitney Houston. And of course, the most common addiction is probably alcoholism. Its victims include the rich and famous, having compelled someone like actor Mel Gibson to write a book about his experience. Gibson’s story is important because it is one of so many examples of addicted folks, including Britney Spears, who came to a realisation about their condition and could do something about it to change their lives for the better.
Addiction not only destroys a person’s health, but also their self-esteem, and along with that their future. Just like any obsession that serves to distract people from achieving their highest potential, addictions divert attention and energy from living a fulfilling and purposeful life. It leads to obsessive routines and fantasies about the next fix. Now an addiction, is not to be confused with a passion. Passion is driven by an inner vision of achievement – vigorously following the possibility of realising an inner potential. Addiction interferes with that. It grabs the steering wheel and drives towards the endless muddy mire of fix – craving – fix – craving….
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