Chasing the Scream author Johann Hari’s post is trending all over the internet and promoting a very important message about the root of all our problems in today’s world – the lack of good human connections. He is speaking about addicts he followed for many months but this discovery about what really causes people to turn to substances is important for all of us. He gradually figured out that people use drugs to fill the void of isolation they feel in today’s cold world.
Here is the original post on Huffington Post: Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think
There is so much incredible insight about human nature in this post. Especially how our environment determines everything, and our natural need to bond with others:
“The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different. This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else. So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”
This is my favorite excerpt because he’s talking about how sick our society is and the need to heal together:
“This isn’t only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “only connect.” But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us. The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog. But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.”
As a society we are paying an extremely high price for this emptiness in so many people. Not only in healthcare, social services and recovery programs, but so many human lives are being lost and that is our greatest failure. So many young people are disconnecting from society in the ultimate way – simply leaving us altogether. It’s just the simplest and easiest way to deal with a problem that they don’t see any solution for in the near future.
Ironically millions of people feel isolated and depressed in our world even though they have loving families around them. So we are obviously doing something very wrong and have to get to work on creating a better environment for us all to thrive in.
My friend Jesse Bogner wrote a book about how he recovered from addiction. He had no desire to think about starting a family or career, and didn’t feel a need to love anyone during those destructive years that the substances took hold of his heart. But he is free now and wrote a book about it, called The Egotist. He is free from being trapped inside the ego where we only think about ourselves, and can now connect with, love and be concerned for others. Jesse’s book will soon be available in Hebrew, German and Italian.