Johann Eduard Hari, a well-known British journalist, shares some very interesting thoughts and facts about the current “mainstream” understanding of addictions. Having seen our current treatment methods fail firsthand, watching loved ones struggle, he began to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do, if that treatment is ethical, and if there might be a better way. His questions took him on an incredible journey around the world, uncovering some surprising and new insights on the way we think about this problem which has plagued huamn beings for decades.

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Is everything we know about addiction wrong? For example, one fact Hari touches upon is the long held belief that certain drugs, like herioin, for example, have chemical hooks in them that make you addicted – meaning if you take them for a period of time your body would become chemically dependant on those hooks. They create a physical dependancy which result in addiction.

Although this may be partly true, we have failed to look at more important factors, like the role of consciousness, and how we perceive the world and our environment in our current human experience.

“The first thing that alerted me to the fact that there’s something not right with this story was the fact that, if I step out of this TED talk today and get hit by a car and I break my hip, I’ll be taken to the hospital and be given loads of diamorphin.  Diamorphin is heroin. It is medically pure, better than the stuff you get on the streets. You’ll be given it for quite a long period of time, there are loads of people in this room who may not realize that you’ve taken quite a lot of herion, and if what we believe about addiction is right, those people are exposed to all of those chemical hooks, what should happen? They should become addicts. This has been studied very carefully, it doesn’t happen. You would have noticed if your grandmother had a hip replacement, she didn’t come out as a junkie. When I learned this, it was just so contrary to everything I’ve been taught, to everything I thought I knew.”

He then goes on to speak of an experiment that was used decades ago which explains our current thinking about addiction, one that dominates the world of re-habilitation and medicine. The experiment involved putting a rat in a cage and then giving it two options: water laced with cocaine (and other drugs), or normal water. The rat(s) always chose the drugged water, overdosed, and died. And there you have it, simple as that, right?

Wrong. It is far more complex than a simple black and white theory. What if you gave the rat something else to do (fun, friends, toys, good food, and a healthy environment) while still having both options of water? You’ll have to listen to find out. He then goes on to talk about a major human experiment which completely defies the chemical hook theory.

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Is it about our environment? Our bonds, our connections, and our access to fulfilling, enjoyable activities? Is it about how we think about and perceive the world around us? Is it because we are not being nourished (mentally and spiritually)?

“I believe the core part of addiction is, and what I think the evidence suggests, is about not being able to bear to be present in your life.” 

From there, the talk gets even more interesting (I’ll let you listen to the rest), and will definitely give you something to think about when it comes to addiction. Perhaps it’s information you can use if you or someone you know struggles with this problem.

I think this TED talk further illustrates that the current human experience is not a natural one; it’s one that does not resonate with our soul and we’ve drifted far from an experience that can nourish what really needs to be nourished. Addiction is a great exmaple of this problem, whether it be to drugs, food, porn, video games, or anything else. As a result of our environment, which is not a healthy one, we turn to harmful means to help us cope with what we don’t feel good about in our lives. Think about it, what are we all doing on this planet? We go to school, get a job, and then (most of us) spend our entire lives working at something we are not passionate about, just in order to survive, while neglecting what truly ignites our souls.

The most startling thing about it all is the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way. Our entire human experience could change into a way of life that nourishes the soul, where everybody has their needs met without sacrificing the health of the earth in the process. We could live in harmony with the planet and all its creatures. This “utopian” type of existence is very possible, and it’s a simple concept. Sometimes I feel like the simplicity of this vision is what prevents people from imagining its fulfillment.

What are your thoughts on addiction and this TED talk? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

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