Johann Hari created a stir in the addiction world when he told that world that everything they have learned about addiction is wrong.
The main finding of Hari’s addiction study?
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.” Johann Hari June 2015, TedX London
When we are caught in the throes of an addiction, what is happening neurologically and somatically is the equivalent of an attachment relationship with the substance. Similar to how we have the biological need to attach to our parents for survival growing up, we have replicated that pattern with a substance.
Think about it…
- Your need to experience the object constancy of the substance shows up as cravings, adapting your schedule to make room to be “with” the substance (e.g., to use)
- When you use, you are in effect “coregulating” with the substance which often causes the anxiety in your nervous system to de-escalate (even if it’s only temporarily)
- You begin to crave times when you will be “with” the substance
You have designed a relationship with the substance that, for the most part, you can count on– so it now is mimicking secure-attachment.
Substances cannot reproduce the chemical and neurobiological necessity of human connection. They can’t talk, text, or zoom with you, cuddle with you, share your hopes and dreams, or listen when you’ve had a bad day.
What substances do accomplish is short-term gratification that numbs out your feelings and de-escalates your central nervous system. But after extended use, substances will actually separate you from the biological imperative you have for a healthy community.
Only other humans can create environments where emotional coregulation, connection, and joy is experienced. It is only in a safe, recovery community of people where healing from addiction can occur.
Yet community is often the last place we want to go when we are struggling with addiction, so what do we do?
Whether we don’t want to let go of our habit, we are afraid of admitting we may need to ask for help (in other words, asking an actual person), or we are ashamed that we will not be able to stay sober… often the thing we need most is what we push out of our lives.
You are not alone. Addicts are almost universally fearful of reintegrating themselves into community. Most addicts wrestle with thoughts like…
- What if I don’t like the people I meet?
- What if they don’t like me?
- What if they annoy me?
- What if I am not enough?
- Can I bring all of myself into this place?
- Will they treat me badly or look down on me for using?
- What if I can’t or don’t want to stop?
Would you believe us if we told you that there are places where you can bring all of those parts of you… all of those fears of connection, of community, and of other people, and they will be held, encouraged, nurtured, and seen?
There are and we can help get you connected to a healing community in your area, our counselors are standing by.