Editors comment: Roughly 88% of all inmates in California State Prisons, County Jails, Federal Prisons and Youth Detention Centers have been convicted of a drug related crime. Even in prison many of those use drugs or are addicted to them. The old notion that if you separate a person from their drugs you at some point eliminate their cravings is simply not true. Studies show one’s real “craving” is to BELONG, to matter to others, to have purpose. Having been addicted to drugs myself, I can only say, the following article is long overdue. DF
For years many people have held a common belief that addiction is caused by chemical dependence. Recent research suggests that the true underlying causes have much more to do with a lack of meaningful connection. In an article titled “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think” by Johann Hari, a new theory about how people get addicted and what the real solutions are is shared.
It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned — and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.
If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.
Read the entire article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html
2 thoughts on “Understanding the true causes of addiction and what we can do about it”
People who feel ‘left out of or forgotten by society’ tend to fall into the trap of addiction, in its various forms. As a Christian Science Reading Room Librarian, I like to remember that these very strangers could be the angels that God is sending for my lesson in grace.
I have had many visits by homeless people with addictions. Several times I have been told by these ‘guests’: Thank you for listening to me, or I appreciate that you care enough to hear me. Sometimes they don’t like what I have to share and they go on their way. But it’s still my opportunity to know that God is caring for them and that they can feel the Father-Mother love of our Creator. Sometimes they return several months or even years later to tell me how that one visit gave them hope, and then they share their progress since that time.
How wonderful that society is looking deeply at what ’causes’ addiction in order to end the misery it brings. How awesome that a vital part of the healing answer is actually inherent in each human being- feeling worthy because someone treated us as being worthy.
I believe there are many factors behind drug addiction. Yes, a craving for belonging is definitely one of them, as this article clearly brings out and backs up with evidence such as the Vietnam veterans who simply stopped taking heroin when returning home. I also find it interesting that Portugal transformed a major drug addiction problem into a successful system of rehabilitation with the decriminalization of drugs and social programs that helped people secure jobs and reconnect with society.
I wanted to find out what social programs were available to help Portugal’s addicts rehabilitate. I found a TIme magazine article that said that jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. “People found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs were sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal advisor for appropriate treatment. In the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by the sharing of dirty needles dropped while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.” (“Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?” By Maia Szalavitz, Sun., April 26, 2009)
I think that the US and other countries could benefit from the above mentioned system of success. Psychotherapy and faith-based therapy can help individuals find their voice and articulate their needs which have much to do with relating to themselves and others. To those who are struggling with isolation and drug dependency, it is not simply a matter of providing love and warmth from family and community. These individuals need tools to rebuild that sense of connection with others. And that’s where the therapy and social programs are needed.
Ultimately, breaking free from addiction and isolation is about the person’s commitment to transformation and healing. Social programs including spiritual communities can only do part of the work. It is really about the individual’s desire to grow.