I saw a video posted on my Facebook feed the other day that really resonated with me and it was perfect timing as today marks the last day of Mental Health Awareness Week.
When you think of addiction, what do you think?
Probably the first thoughts to come to mind are not so nice …
Unable to have self control
No will power
What about what starts these addictions?
Having a crappy life….
What continues them?
Obviously your brain becomes addicted to them and so you need them to function. Right?Without them you go through these dangerous physical withdrawal symptoms. Due to the latter, obviously its a physical process, no?
You’re addicted to the drug.
What if I told you that perhaps there is something else that may contribute to all of these components of addiction. What if I told you that without seeing this lil loop hole we are essentially fuelling the rise of addictive behaviour?
Would you believe me?
I was told once in one of my classes that if a baby is born and is never touched it will die. Further education has taught me the importance of social connection in every life. It is a basic necessity and without it, you can see different manifestations.
The trauma of an abusive connection can lead to a state of detachment or internal conflict between enmeshment and pushing away.
A lack of a connection early in life can lead to full social withdrawals and often psychosis.
If we loose connection with our social self later in life we may look for something else to grab onto for that false sense of love and affection that we would otherwise get from a fellow human.
Think about it, if our social need is that strong, so fundamental to our being, wouldn’t it make sense that we would do anything to get it to relieve the pain of being without it?
Some people use food.
Some people smoke, drink or gamble.
Some people use drugs…
See a pattern here?
These are all classified as addictions.
Put in other words, maybe we should see addiction as simply a connection. Taken further, maybe this connection is often over exaggerated and extreme because you have already hit a point of desperation and this is you grasping for something so hard that you become obsessive with it. To continue with this idea, those withdrawal symptoms may then be simply the physical manifestations of the only connection you feel you have being ripped from you and that leaves you panicked as that lack of social stability feeling creeps in once again.
Remember how strong the mind is. It can make physical things happen all on it’s own without physical cause.
Now, I am in no way saying that the things I am saying here are true or scientifically backed up. I’m sure (pretty much know) there are strong neurochemical and physical processes involved as well, but I’m seriously considering this to be both a major trigger and something that allows for the problem to continue.
So humour me for a second and assume that what I’m proposing is correct. Then, think about this and think about how our world is changing. The video points this out nicely…
We are creating more physical space between people because we like our homes to be bigger and bigger.
We are creating emotional space between people more due to technology and our recent obsession with texting and social media as opposed to face-to-face connections.
So with that in mind, can there be any doubt in the fact that we are creating more opportunities for addiction?
We have all the things in the world at our fingertips and with that social void getting bigger, we just have more things to grab at for comfort.
As a further problem…
How do we ‘treat’ these addictions?
Rehab is separating people from their support systems (if they have any) and placing them in a new space with people forcing things on them. In most cases, there is no emotional connections formed in these places. The staff are simply there to enforce the rules, ensure you don’t hurt yourself or others and to medically manage the withdrawal symptoms.
Similarly, jail is isolation as well. You are in a cell. Even when the inmates are together in groups, I think it’s fair to propose that gangs are formed more so out of fear then actual connection. Fear that if they are not a part of one, they will not be safe from being a target of one.
Lastly, mental institutions are the king of isolation. Taken away from society because they are ‘not fit to be integrated yet’ and set aside to wallow away in their own troubled thoughts. Yes, many mental illnesses may have physical or chemical causes, but isolation doesn’t make it better. Furthermore, pumping them full of psychotics simply bandaids the problem (or in many cases makes them worse because what do these meds actually do?)
So here’s where we have a problem.
If lack of social connection both causes this problem and continues this problem, then why are we trying to fix the issue with more isolation?
Insanity at it’s finest my friends.
Take a deeper look into that Vietnam study mentioned in the video and consider that maybe a true preventative measure and “healer” per say is simply companionship.
We need to step away from our ‘space creaters’ and instead move closer physically to others. Don’t shut the world out or you are just hurting yourself.
I will leave you with a final thing to think about.
If our body is said to be a highly redundant system, meaning that there are various things that do the same thing, consider the fact that the feelings and modulators related to sex and addiction are within the same neurochemical pathways.
Perhaps because of its importance to life, there is a ‘backup system’ per say to fill the lack of social bond (sex) if required.
And this back-up you ask? Addiction.