What does ignorance have to do with addiction?

Sometimes people tire me……namely people who are content to go along with the status quo…….people who don’t intend to strive to be a better person today than they were yesterday. What a waste of potential! There are many areas in which a person can grow….relationships, work, mental health, spirituality, physical health, parenting, education, and just plain old temperament…..

When I say content to go along with the status quo, I mean people who continue to make bad choices as a way of life, and either don’t recognize how those choices are affecting themselves and the people around them or they recognize the problems, but feel powerless to get off of the hamster wheel. Most of these bad choices I refer to are the result of  addictive behaviors……addiction to drugs, shopping/acquiring, drama, sleep, food, alchohol, gaming, social media, internet, phone, gambling, working out,….you name it, people can be addicted to it.

  1. Habitual psychological or physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one’s voluntary control.

If you’ve ever regretted some activity or behavior, but done it again and again, you have had addictive behavior. No judgement here….I struggle with numerous areas of addiction….shopping and eating to name a few (and more extreme behaviors in my teens & 20s).

I sometimes wonder if the addictions of the world manifest as a fierce hunger for one thing, but a person, not knowing what he/she really wants/needs, feeds it with the wrong things. On a physiological level, if a person becomes severely anemic, they will crave odd things, like ice or dirt….it’s called pica, and it’s the bodies attempt to get the nutrients it so desperately needs.

Are addictions really an unquenchable hunger for one thing, but people are trying to “eat dirt” to fill the emptiness?

Some sources I’ve encountered have said the longing or craving that many, if not most people, experience at some time in their lives is for a relationship with Christ or God……that it’s our reunion with God that we long for. While this rings true for me, let’s go deeper. Could it be a quest for truth, for enlightenment? After all, our father knows all—is omniscient. As we were made in his image, it would make sense that these desires would be planted in us by way of our creator. As mere humans, we can let ourselves be pulled by this compulsion and get as close as we can to “knowing”. We can do all we can to awaken to who we are meant to be.

The mission of life is not for food, sex, drugs, gambling, gaming, money, but for enlightenment. And enlightenment will bring you closer to God. Some of the above activities done in the right way, in the right balance, can assist us in this mission (when we are in control), but addictive behaviors are poor substitutes for the hard work of self reflection. While many activities bring us to the prepicise of clarity where we can glimpse moments of lucidity in altered states, they are not a short cut to true spirituality.  I read once that to “cheat” and “see” without the experience of life is dangerous. It’s  like anything in life…we must be ready. A bird can’t leave the nest until it can fly. A marsupial can’t leave the pouch until it is mature enough. A caterpillar does not emerge from the chrysalis until it becomes a butterfly. People may  be able to recover with the hard work of self reflection, through meditation, study, prayer, music etc.,  rather than numbing themselves via artificial means such as drugs, alcohol, etc……when the person is ready, the real source of hunger can be revealed, and the person can heal.

Chip away at the truth of your life with a little pick like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption and the truth will be revealed to you as the hard walls of your life slowly crumble. Hold the crumbles in your hand and gaze at them like an old woman reading tea leaves. Except you aren’t looking for answers about the future, you are looking for the answers of the past. Those little pieces of rock will line up for you like ants coming for your picnic….and you will awaken. You will awaken at just the right pace….when you are ready in every way to receive and recognize the truth.

Examples of questions that people might be trying to silence through addictions:

Why did that person treat me like that? What happens after life? Why did they have to die? Or leave? Why doesn’t he love me? Why did my mother abandon me? Why can’t my father see me?

Whatever the question deep in a person’s soul, once a person is able to consciously process it, it loses its control over them. Some of us crave food, yet many of us simply want to fill an emptiness from the past. We might turn to drugs or alcohol to calm us, but really we need to understand that the chaos that made us anxious was in our childhood, felt through our mother. Maybe the addiction is to sex or pornograhy and the person needs to figure out why…..what situation created this unhealthy need? And more importantly,  what would be a healthy antidote. Feeling the feelings that arise, is important…….sometimes knowing the experiences of a person who has caused us pain, will shed light on the “whys”.  Understanding without blame will free you……Many sources say forgiveness will free you…there may be some truth to this, but I believe insight into motivations is necessary to forgive…..yourself and others. We all fall short in some way because of our unique circumstances…hurt people hurt people.

Of course, issues that cause addictions are complex, but the point is don’t continue spiralling down the rabbit hole without taking a hard look at the reasons for your behavior. Try to get at the root of it. Is it terrifying? Yes…..that’s why it has a strangle hold on you. Continuing on an unhealthy, unrewarding path of numbing, avoiding, and distraction should be more terrifying though. Shine the light on it, and watch it recoil and scurry off into the darkness……