Interesting quote huh? It certainly goes against our society’s party line on addictions: “it’s a disease which must be cured”. Looking at addiction as a disease creates an atmosphere of combat, of resistance, and an agenda of elimination. But we forget that unlike a virus, addictions are actually trying to serve something within us.
Remember that everything we do, we do to try to meet our core values, needs, concerns, and desires. And addictions are no different. Often people refer to “self-medicating” in order to “not feel”. This numbing out could give you peace, harmony, tranquility, or balance when your emotional world is in turmoil. Or maybe what you get out of the addictive behavior is social approval, connection, friendship, fulfillment, play, or even spiritual meaning. As you can see all of these core needs are very important, and it is vital that we try to get them met. And the addiction is trying to do just that. Your addiction is trying to heal you, its trying to make you more whole by taking care of some unfulfilled, potentially neglected, need within you. This is why you can’t simply stop doing an activity; you really have to find a new activity, something that fulfills your core needs in a more sustainable, holistic way.
So if addictions are trying to help us, then why are they so destructive? Well simply put, we do the addictive behavior because it is the best strategy we’ve found so far. There was a period of my life, when I was working and living in Washington D.C., where I found my work to be very stressful and meaningless. I also didn’t have a strong community of friends to blow off steam with and just play. So I ended up drinking too much while playing video games, nearly every night. The alcohol and video games were giving me play, and relief from the pain and stress I felt daily at my job. I had tried meeting friends at my local church, at work, with some people I was living with, and even going to local events. But to no avail, I experience rejection again and again. So the drinking and the games gave me the play and emotional peace without all the pain of rejection. Best strategy I could come up with at the time.
But the drinking and video games weren’t taking care of my needs for community and connection. And so I became more and more isolated. And that’s when the addiction could have taken a very ugly turn. Fortunately though it didn’t. I eventually left Washington D.C. and found a rich community of friends and support in Davis, CA. And anyone whose struggled with addiction knows that it isn’t enough to identify the core need your addiction is trying to serve and find a more sustainable and holistic strategy. You also often need support and encouragement from a community of people. Habitual behavior patterns can be hard to break; sometimes even our sense of identity has become wrapped up in the addiction. And old reminders of the “glory days” or “triggers” can send us back to square one. A community of people who unconditionally love you, support you, and encourage you to find more sustainable, holistic activities that serve your needs is necessary to come out of the other side of addiction, to become liberated.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.