Addiction- TED: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

In this Ted talk Johann Hari questions what really causes addiction. Hari mentions a man called Burce Alexander, a professor of psychology, who suggests that there might be a different story about addiction. He said, what if addiction isn’t about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

Hari also acknowledges another professor called Peter Cohen who believes, maybe we shouldn’t even call it addiction. Maybe we should call it bonding. Hari talks about human beings having a natural and innate need to bond, and when we’re happy and healthy, we’ll bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatised or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief- your addiction.We as human beings will bond and connect with something because that’s our nature. That’s what we want as human beings.

Hari goes on to say that him and his audience could all be getting drunk right now, but they’re not. He says the reason for this is because they have bonds and connections that they want to be present for. They have work that they love, people they love. They have healthy relationships. He adds that a core part of addiction, he believes, which evidence suggests, is about not being able to bear to be present in your life.

What I’ve taken from this is that, if you’re happy within your current environment, you don’t need the addiction. For example lets take drugs. Millions of people take drugs such as cocaine to get a buzz effect. They’ll go for a night out and take it to have a good time. But what if they were already having a good time? They might already feel happy enough, socialising with friends, forgetting the need for drugs. Smoking can be another example. On many occasions I have asked people why they’re smoking so frequently in a short space of time. They’re response is, “Bored”. So if they weren’t bored, would they even think to have a cigarette? A lot of people I know have told me how they have been able to go a day without smoking because they have been so busy doing something else. So is the cure, ‘something else’? But something else that can occupy their mind, which makes them content with what they’re doing. Maybe then they won’t feel the need to have a cigarette. Some people argue, “But I’m stressed.” Okay, smoking can relieve stress, but what if you weren’t stressed in the first place? Can you find ‘something else’ that takes away the stress, or stops you from being stressed in the first place. You do something to help the situation you are in. Going back to being bored. If I’m bored I play video games. I could argue that I am a little bit addicted to video games as this is something I do every day for a long period of time, and find it hard to stop. But I love football, if I was in the middle of a video game and someone asked me to have a game of football I would stop straight away. This is because it is something else that makes me really happy. But what really makes me happy about playing football is being with my friends. Football brings people together and creates a connection. If I was to be I asked to go out for drinks with close friends, I wouldn’t even have to think twice, the playstation would be off immediately and I would be up getting ready. What Iv’e learnt here is that, it’s not ‘something else’ that can take your mind of an addiction, but ‘someone else’. Your closest friends, your family and loved ones, the people you want a connection with. All these people have the ability to help you, as these are the people you know care.

I know I came to this conclusion from playing video games, but I truly believe the people around you are what you need in life. They are the people who really can help serious addicts, ones with problems such as smoking, alcohol, drugs and gambling. Not something like video gaming, although it can actually be very unhealthy.


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