Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Opposite of Addiction is Connection

I found this Ted Talk, and I had to write about it. It's called "Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong". I have lots of thoughts on it, and I'd love to hear what other people think as well. If you don't want to watch it, I'll give you some of the highlights. But there's a lot more. So you should watch it.

Johann Hari discusses how rats that are isolated in a cage with nothing to do, prefer water laced with heroin over pure water. These rats will use the heroin until they eventually overdose and it kills them. However, rats in a cage set up like a "rat park" where they have fun things to do and other rats to socialize with, prefer the pure water over the heroin laced water.

Johann raises some questions about this phenomenon. "What if addiction isn't about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your "cage"? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

"Maybe we should call it bonding. When we're happy and healthy we bond and connect with each other. But if you can't do that because you're traumatized, or isolated, or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now that might be gambling. That might be pornography. That might be cocaine. That might be cannabis. But you will bond and connect with something. Because that's our nature. That's what we want as human beings."

As I listened to this, I reflected on when I first got involved with pornography. I was at a point where I felt more alone than I ever had before. I was miserable in my "cage". I could see no good in my environment. I was like the lone rat, I felt completely alone and had nothing to do. So I found something to bond with, and that something was pornography. Throughout the years that followed, I have definitely used pornography as an escape from life. As Johann puts it, "A core part of about not being able to bear to be present if your life." It became my go-to coping mechanism. So when I needed an escape from the guilt and shame of using pornography to cope, where did I turn? Yep. Usually I turned to more pornography. It is a viscous cycle.

Later, Johann talks about recovery and how it is best accomplished when real connections with real people are made. He says that he tries to "say to the addicts in my life that I want to deepen the connection with them. I love you whether you are using or not. I love you whatever state you're in. And if you need me, I'll come and sit with you because I love you. And I don't want you to be alone, or to feel alone."

I guess Johann's words are exactly what I want to tell other women who struggle with pornography. I love you. I love you whether or not you are "using" pornography. I know what it's like, and if you need me, I'll come sit with you. Because I get it. And I don't want you to be alone, or feel alone. And believe that if you can feel that, you will can also begin to understand that God loves you even more than I do.

"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection." If you haven't made a connection with someone, if you feel totally alone, lean on me. Let's connect. I may need it just as much as you. And hopefully together we can strengthen our faith in Christ, and learn more of just how much he loves us.

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