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Everything we know about addiction is wrong?

What if everything we thought about addiction was wrong? This is an informative talk by Johann Hari that made me think about my addictive and unconscious behaviors, the worst of which is probably spending hours surfing the internet aimlessly.

I know, he's a disgraced former journalist due to plagiarism. But there's stuff to be learnt here despite the fact that he dismisses chemical hooks being a source of addiction.

Here's a summary of my key takeaways from his talk:

Chemical hooks may not always be responsible for addiction. Accident patients are given diamorphine while recovering in hospital, but don't get addicted. Grandmothers don't get addicted after hip replacements.  During the Vietnam war, it was estimated that 20% soldiers were using heroin, but when they came home, they didn't need rehab or experience withdrawal symptoms. 90% just stopped using drugs.

Rat experiment:
Scientist places a rat in a cage and provides two types of water - plain water & water with drugs.  The rats always drink the water with drugs.

Scientist then creates Rat Park, where the rats get to play in a micro-Disneyland of slides, tunnels, cheese and have many rat friends. They are also supplied the two types of water (plain water and water with drugs) While 100% of the rats overdose when they are isolated, 0% drink the drugged water in Rat Park.  Amazing!

Addiction is a form of bonding (gambling, porn, internet surfing). It is an adaptation to our environment when we are not able to bear being present in our lives.  The only way is to move towards purpose, a reason to work on your projects, family etc.

The Portuguese method for drug rehab is by reintegrating addicts back into society, help to find them employment, useful work, connections etc.  They use the the funds to reconnect and love instead of to punish.

Modern lifestyle is getting less connected, not more connected. It's a parody of fake connections and as such will increase addiction rates. Creating a lonely society. For most of us who live in big cities, life will start to look like an isolated cage instead of Rat Park.

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but real connection.


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