Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Causes of Addiction May Not Be What We Think

This article from The Huffington Post suggests that we may not know what causes addiction.

Three different colleagues posted links to it on Facebook today and when I read the piece this morning, for me it confirmed a basic truth of the Bible: We are made for relationship with God and with others, made for community. When community is distorted, we look for comfort where we can find it. That often leads to addiction.

One interesting section of the article:
If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right -- it's the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them -- then it's obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here's the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.
If the patient has been discharged into a loving family and to a life that gives options, it appears, she's less likely to be addicted to the drug than a person in whose life there are few close relationships or in which opportunities for happiness are few.

Difficult environments and relationships, not the allure of a drug's buzz, seem to be breeding grounds for addiction.

To me, the article suggests the importance of churches being strong communities in which faith in and relationship with Christ is both taught and lived.

It also suggests to me that some addictions, even those often seen as harmless, such as overeating, may be seen, and I think, should be seen, as symptomatic of a need for deeper relationships with God and others.

Addiction entails filling voids with stuff that can only be filled by community with God and with others. The call of the Church is to share Jesus so that the world can be free of its "stuff" forever!

Read the whole thing.

[UPDATE: Thanks to Stones Cry Out for linking to this post.]

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