Have human beings always been prone to addiction? Why are some able to get on and off the trains of intoxication while others ride into oblivion? Is drug and alcohol abuse more prevalent today? Suffice it to say that this has been a problem for centuries.

People need to relieve tedium and stress. They also crave variety. The extraordinarily complex brain is not content with unending regimen. Altering states of mind would appear essential for mental health. Whether it’s singing on the chain gang, dancing ‘round a fire at night, quaffing a potent beverage with buddies, participating in or watching an exciting sport, the means to ‘change gears’ have always been sought. So it is not this propensity that is the problem. It is the allowing it to become a dominating ‘escape’ in one’s life.

Not only are mind-altering consumables a threat. There are many addictions that lock you into certain behavior and seriously impede your judgment. Gambling and obsessive shopping can do this. Even inordinate gossiping can become an intoxicating high that skews reason. Nothing like the heady power of putting others down even if it is only done with words.

So what should you do? What should you watch out for? An obvious indication of a problem is self-centeredness. You will never meet a drunk whose diminishing ego is not the center of his life. The world only exists to feed ‘his’ addiction and gradually this consumes ‘his’ soul, ‘his’ love for ‘other’. ‘He’ becomes a very tragic figure going down a dead end street. And this is true for all addictions. When one has become obsessed with filling a ‘need’ … constantly … one turns away from the world. Loving becomes almost impossible. Sad, very sad. For when caring is abandoned, life becomes meaningless. The only hope is to find someone or something that demands attention from the addict. A needy relative or friend. A pet. Important, rewarding work.

To obliterate the addiction one must first admit that the shackles are ruining one’s life. Then a constantly renewing commitment to a ‘purpose for living’ must be made. If you or someone close to you falls into insidious, relentless addiction, seek help. Never let pride get in the way of reason. Life is too short to squander it on a self-consuming habit. And SO unnecessary given the many enjoyable ways one can ‘change gears’. A favorite chocolate bar perhaps. Tend a garden, raise birds, tutor children. Whatever. Just ‘get the hell’ away from ‘me’ being the center of the world!!



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