The Opposite of Addiction: Sobriety? Or something else?

Johann Hari spent three years researching the war on drugs; along the way, he discovered that addiction might not be what we think it is. . .

Johann wanted to know what really causes addiction? In the course of finding an answer he found himself traveling 30,000 miles over the span of 3 years. In his New York Times best-selling book Chasing the Scream, he revealed his discoveries entirely through the stories of the people he met as he journeyed across the world.

In this compelling TED talk (above), which went viral, Johann suggests that the cause of addiction may not entirely be the familiar story of chemical dependency; but rather addiction may have more to do with the brain’s natural adaptation to loneliness, isolation, and loss of meaning and relationships in life:

“When we have bonds and connections that we want to be present for, we don’t become addicted. Addiction happens when we can’t bear the present situation of our lives.”

In Johann’s opinion: the way we currently deal with addicts on a societal, political, and individual level in fact serves to increase their isolation and decrease their opportunities to engage in a meaningful and purposeful life. It’s time that we rethink every level of our response to addicts and addiction, urges Johann, built on a fundamental change in perspective: “That the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”