Culture of Addiction

“If you are dependent on something outside yourself to feel good, you are addicted.”

When I was offered the choice of trading in my cocaine habit for a lithium habit, I knew the only difference was a legal one. I knew in my bones that I needed to face the uncomfortable feelings I had been running from all my life, but I wasn’t ready. I continued with my drug of choice, until I discovered climbing.

An addiction is something we can’t stop doing despite its negative effect on our lives. It is a substance or an activity that alters us neurologically, biologically, and physiologically. The over-stimulation causes the production of brain chemicals that make us feel good. It is this feeling that we cannot resist, not the substance or the activity that precipitated this feeling. This is why addicts can trade in one addiction for another with shocking ease.

At its most basic level, addiction is about not being happy. But the catch is this: no external thing can make us happy: happiness is an inside job. The first step toward this end is sitting with our uncomfortable feelings and admitting the truth about ourselves to ourselves. We need to do this as individuals, and as a culture. Only then will we have the courage to creatively destroy what is not working in our lives and let the unknown take us for a ride…

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