Addiction is not an Illness

By Charlie Morris

I don’t see addiction as an illness.  But some of the things we choose as an addiction are far more physically and emotionally destructive than others.  I also don’t see addiction as limited to drug use.  I see addiction as the way that we live.  It is, a necessity, at this stage of living.  But only because we have not fully grasped that the way that we are living, forces us into lives of distraction.  I feel that most of us have this reversed.  The prevailing presumption is that our lives of distraction drive us to ignore the things around us.  When really there is so much damage done to the paradise of nature and the sense of community and connection…that distraction is just about the final frontier for us to not go insane from the realization of just how dire things are here and now.

A measure of cultural and societal degradation very well may be proportional to how much energy the citizenry puts towards idle distractions that lack any connection to gathering food, sustaining community or being tithed to the natural cycles of seasons and temperature.

Addiction escalates when connection falters.  If we want to help those who are addicted to drugs, or television, or video games, or porn, or food, or exercise, or (?) we need to help one another find their inherent value and connection internally.  So that how they feel when they are in the forest, is the same, as when they must return to the city.  We need a culture that supports people so lovingly that when they are alone, they feel the same as being gently held by trusted ones.

Merriam and Websters give the following definition for addiction:

: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)

: an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something

:  compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal;broadly :  persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

What if we operate from the premise that the experience of being a spirit, in a body, is an overwhelming experience?

No, no. That isn’t quite right is it?  How about this then…presume that being a spirit, in a body-with what you have been through and with the ways that we live, is an overwhelming experience.

No.  It is closer but not quite.  Okay then this…if you are a spirit, experiencing the requisite disconnection from Source that humans feel AND you are living in a location that likewise is barren of natural spaces, natural communal living and the overt kindness of the society around you…THAT is an overwhelming experience for a human to have.

You are going to need somewhere to turn.  Do you know what you are going to need to get through it?  An addiction.  You are going to need something to slow down the fact that you can’t feel what you know is just out of reach.

Addiction (redefined)
: repeatable patterns of activity, thoughts and actions that enable sentient beings to bear the burden of separation from truth, God, divinity.

: an action that keeps one from experiencing feelings of acute separation and/or unintegrated emotionally charged experiences, feelings and memories.

Do I believe in physical addiction to a drug?  Yes, on many levels.  I have had the shakes as the alcohol receded from my system after many days of drinking.  A body can and does become addicted and dependent on a drug after extended use.  But we never start a drug because we are addicted.  We become addicted after the first or third or hundredth time..who knows.  That is chemical dependency.  But what do we mean when we call someone an addict and to whom does that apply?

There isn’t one of us who cannot be proven to be an addict.  Everybody is running from something.  Everyone hides things away.  And everyone seeks solace from the hurts that they have accumulated and stored away.  Addiction is a lock on the cellar door, where these things are stacked.

We hear  a lot that addiction is an illness?  For recovery work this is a good stance to take-at times.  Treating the use of a drug as an illness is a powerfully motivating concept that keeps one vigilant.  It is a useful device for not slipping back into thinking one can just drink again, for example.  Because yes, after you have an ingrained pattern of using a particular substance to quell or push down how much things hurt…it is REALLY hard to not go back to it.  So, having to see it as an incurable illness is actually incredibly pivotal and effective.

Yet, it is not a literal illness.  Addiction is not an illness…which is why it can never be cured.  Addiction is  a need.  It is a response to a need to reestablish a lost connection.   The way we burn for truth and love makes us light fires.  Not all of them provide warmth.  Some of them just kill us.

Addiction can be two things:

  1. a way that we seek to subdue how much it burns to experience life in  a disconnected state
  2. a way that we seek to shortcut the journey to feeling connected again by reigniting the connection (through chemical or other means)

Think of the way you might feel if you knew you were connected to everything.  Imagine knowing you are loved at all times.  Imagine comfort and an inner peace that does not fade.  Imagine looking at every living thing and knowing “I am a part of that too” but beyond knowing it…imagine feeling it deep in your bones so that everything that you see you also cannot help but love.

Now, take that all away.  Excise it from your life.

Want it back?  Well…here on Earth, in a body, that’s  a tall order at the moment.  And truthfully everyone wants it back.  What would you do to get it?  What would you take to have 5 minutes of it?

The experience I am talking about has a specific vibration. When one is in that open and connected place, it has a specific vibration to it.  For most of us it would be considered a rarified tone and yes, it is a tone that I would call LOVE.  Here is where addiction come into the picture.  There are things that we can put into our body (substances, imagery, thoughts, experiences) which can bring about the same vibration that FEELS similar to actually being connected.  It is like this…imagine if you could PLAY this vibration through a set of speakers.  This way you could hear it, obviously.  And if you play it loud enough you would also FEEL it.  It is as close to getting there as one can often get.  But eventually the song will be over.

When that happens you will want to hear it again…and again…and again.  You will have to hit REPLAY over and over.  Because the fact is, is that it causes you to feel soothed, comforted, clothed, embedded in a reality that at least feels like something that is as close to love than one can easily get.  There are things that we humans do to create a kind of artificial entrainment that represents a connected state.

The reason why our addictions and patterns to recreate the sound never produce a lasting experience is because these sounds are external.  The sound has to be internal to be eternal.  The LOVE must be an internal vibration.  When the internal vibration becomes aligned with the truth, what we call “addiction” finally dissipates to a large extent.  We don’t go looking for a connection we already feel and experience.

People ask about “addiction” and say “how” “why”?  They wonder about the people who are “addicted” to a certain drug.  We call it an illness.  No.  It simply isn’t so.  Unless we are all mostly ill ourselves.  All one would need to do prove this is to cut the internet connectivity in America.  Disable all television broadcasts and smartphone service.  Now, have the “sober” sit in new found silence without the drugs of information, the drugs of entertainment, the drugs of ceaseless distraction.  Who is addicted now?


What are we addicted to?  Escape from things that overwhelm us.

How do we become unaddicted?

Foster ways of living that are not overwhelming to sensitive spirits traveling in a human form.

As much as possible, return to a natural state.  Retreat to a pace of life that is in actual congruence with the pace of occurrence.  Create a slower society that is smaller, more supportive of community.  There must be a connection with the old and the young, the spirit of the land, and with our past deeds and memories.  In our current society, these things do not really exist for most of us.

When people enter the Alcoholics Anonymous program and do the 12-Steps, it can be a profoundly life changing experience.  For me all the steps still work, even if one does not concede that alcoholism is an illness. Working the steps still works.  But honestly what really makes the work “work” is the communal support that is there.  What works is that people are around you who want you to pull through and you are a part of something that you know you are doing for your own care.  It works because going to meetings and listening to others literally makes you a more considerate and thoughtful person, exposed to the suffering and struggles of your fellow men and women.  An AA meeting is just about one of the few places in the American landscape where people really just tell the whole truth about the whole damn thing.  And that is rare.  And it is needed.  You know what it also is?  It’s loving.  What drives addiction?  A lack of love.

From the program, people receive the vibrational response that they were trying to reignite through their drug use.  And yes, later on dependency does become a reality.  But addiction is a case of acute separation anxiety from the love that we know that we are…

Addiction is not an illness.  It is a state of being.  It is an attempt to soothe what hurts.  And the only cure is an inner culture of loving one’s self, which hopefully can lead to a larger outer culture of people who can care for one another.

(I do not edit well.  So, yeah…lots of errors here.  Just read on.)

First published at Sacred Meetings in Stillness

More posts from Beyond Meds on addiction:


Comments are closed.

Powered by

Up ↑