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Saturday, August 7, 2010

What is Your Addiction?

I sincerely believe we all are addicts. All of us are "physiologically or psychologically dependent" on an activity, habit, or substance. As we live our lives, we form addictions, many times unknowingly, that shape our personalities and our actions. 

For example, I am addicted to music. I love outstanding recordings and great sound. Many other values and related activities in my life have sprung from my continuing addiction to music. A fine recording from a talented artist is my fix. I crave the experience of listening to these recordings to the point that my body and soul feel dependent upon their delivery. 

Just as any addict uses his habit or substance, I use my music to my advantage. With the vehicle of recordings, I am able to adjust my moods and my desires. I know most people around me do not feel the need to hear music in the manner I do. But, that is not important to me because my audio addiction is so great.To hear a good recording played on a great audio delivery system, to me, is to experience euphoria. For that reason, if I hear a system that sounds superior to mine, I immediately want to possess the same ability to make my recordings sound equally euphoric. I guess, in terms of addiction, I reached a new level of "high."

I have often considered music to be a good addiction, but others believe music is frivolous and amusingly entertaining at best. Although costly at times, collecting and listening to music brings me great personal satisfaction without physical harm (although I do like to listen to relatively loud volume levels). I consider myself lucky not to have a physically harmful addiction, and, in my mind, I justify my musical expenses as the expenses of a creative addiction. Still, others would contend buying too much music is wasteful and not that important to sustaining my bit of space on the planet. I acknowledge any "good" addiction may be seen by a significant number of others as "bad."

The addict can choose an addiction that allows time spent in its activity as mainly constructive and positive. With such an addiction, the person can encounter meaning that furthers understanding of a knowledge base that provides limitless opportunities for refinement and pleasure. In contrast, negative addictions eventually lead to dead ends and painful consequences. I believe such a deadly addiction can result from one unfortunate choice and escalate uncontrollably toward self destruction. Often others blame hurtful consequences solely on the desire of the addict to enter the addictive activity. Yet, I know no drug addicts who began their suffering by saying I intend to continue to use poisonous substances to kill myself unless, of course, they were suicidal at the outset.

Do we choose all addictions or do some addictions choose us? I believe humans have a propensity to drift toward addictions presented in their closest environments, and, I think, a potential addict may have an attraction to behaviors deemed self gratifying that fill missing needs. Therefore, I find it unlikely many Buddhists will spring from the ranks of a Christian upbringing while many violent criminals are products of abusing parents. 

Also, many an experimental stroll by a predisposed, addictive personality has lead to increased harmful behavior.

Is all addiction disease? Many would say "no," but I think all addictions are diseases in the sense that all are conditions or tendencies that hold potential to harm the addict. Almost all addictions resist easy cure. Whether people gossip or people chain smoke cigarettes, an addiction will meet change with considerable opposition. Those stricken with the "disease" of addiction may require repeated medical help, psychological help, or both to recover fully. To declare oneself completely free of all addictive habits and behaviors is to claim immortality.

Let me state what you fear I am claiming: All human beings are addicts affected by diseases of their mortality and their environment. Yes, that is what I am saying. We are flawed individuals -- some with deep scars and terminal status, and some with less abrasive dependencies and tolerable status. No one is really "the bomb" or "the idol" or "the gift to mankind." As we examine our addictions, whether we consider them to be good or bad, we can be assured many around us do not suffer from our same afflictions. Only through grace, goodness and common understanding do we dare accept each member of this motley crew of imperfection.

Casting a lifeline of understanding toward the most harmfully addicted should be a duty of life. Instead, most would consider these people refuse and gladly watch them being tossed aside as waste products of society. Imagine not caring about those suffering from physical ailments such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. Imagine not responding to those with psychological illnesses such as depression, retardation, or Anorexia nervosa. To do so would certainly be negligent and abhorrent. When we consider those unfortunate individuals who are addicted to drugs, shouldn't we show them the same human compassion and be certain they are treated with proper prevention, intervention, and treatment? 

"Just 'cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town."  --George Carlin

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