A few days ago I stumbled across this awesome TED Talk on the subject of addiction. Here, Johann Hari spoke about his personal journey to uncover the roots of addiction, having experienced close family members’ struggles with it.
“… The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”
– Johann Hari
Give it a listen if you’ve got a spare fifteen minutes, but his main message is clear. Addictions arise when we don’t have “bonds and connections that [we] want to be present for”. When we can’t “bear to be present in our lives”. And, ultimately, the way that we deal with people with addictions is inherently faulty: we threaten to take away the very connections that people with addictions want to be present for. We imprison them. We fine them. We stamp them with criminal records: we essentially barricade their way to jobs, security and social acceptance.
Perhaps it’s time that we sing them a love song instead of a battle song. Perhaps it’s time to, as Hari suggests, say “you’re not alone, we love you”. “Because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”