The opposite of addiction is connection

by Rita Brhel on March 28, 2017

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Could it be that almost everything we think we know about addiction is wrong? Simply, exposure to illegal drugs will not necessarily, absolutely result in addiction in every person.

What if addiction isn’t about the chemical hook? What if addiction is actually about a lack of human connection?

Humans are born wired to bond — ideally, with another human. But humans who cannot bond with another person, due to emotional trauma, for example, will still bond with something. We know these human bond substitutes as addictions…to substances like alcohol or drugs, social media, gambling, shopping, and any number of other compulsions.

In this 2015 TED Talk, English journalist Johann Hari challenges us to look at addiction — and recovery — from a whole new angle:

As Johann shares, addiction recovery is not about punishing the addict for his or her need for connection. It’s not about threatening jail time if the addict will not stop using heroine. It’s about coming alongside the addict and healing the wound under the Band-Aid. Lasting, effective addiction recovery is about social rehab, not just individually but culturally — through how we are conditioning the next generation to reach out to virtual social connections more than in-person, human connections.

We need to get real with what addiction actually represents — a cry for help for people who never experienced a healthy human-to-human connection. In essence, Johann’s work shows us that addiction prevention and recovery starts with attachment.

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Rita Brhel (181 Posts)

Rita Brhel, BS, CLC, API Leader, is the Executive Editor for Attachment Parenting International. She lives with her husband and 3 children, ages 10, 8 and 5, near Hastings, NE, USA, where she works as a WIC Breastfeeding Counselor. She also writes for Mothering and La Leche League's New Beginnings.


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