The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, it’s connection

An important part of supporting yourself and your child who is struggling with addiction is questioning all your old beliefs and creating intentional new ones that serve you.

This video is one of the resources that helped me form my new beliefs about addiction because the connection aspect and findings of the research resonated with me.

The speaker Johann Hari talks about a study where rats were put in an empty cage. They had a choice between regular water and water laced with heroin or cocaine. The isolated rats were highly likely to die from an overdose because they were only drinking the drug laced water.

Another experiment was done where the rats weren’t isolated.  They had food, friends, connection, toys and both regular water and water laced with cocaine and heroin.  In this case none of the rats overdosed on the drug laced water.  

This lead scientists to ask what if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

Humans have an innate need to bond and connect.  If we’re happy and healthy emotionally and physically we can bond and connect with each other.  If we can’t do that because of depression, trauma, or some other circumstance, we will bond with something like drugs that will give us some sense of relief.

This video is also what lead me to research Portugal and how they were handling their addiction problem. They tried to handle it with more punishment, but the problem got worse. 

They set up a panel of scientists and doctors to find a solution.  Their answer was to not only decriminalize addiction, but to take all the money that was spent disconnecting addicts from society and putting them in prison and spend it all on recovery and reconnecting them with society.

They do traditional rehab, but they also have an initiative to find jobs for addicts and microloans so they can start up small businesses.  They wanted them to have purpose and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

You can keep your connection with your child or any loved one even though they’re addicted.  There’s discomfort either way.  There’s the discomfort of setting boundaries and working through the emotional triggers from their addiction or the discomfort of not having them in your life.

Beliefs I choose about addiction:

Addiction is an unhealthy way of coping with stress & painful emotions, not a moral failing

Addiction is a family disease, everyone needs recovery

I can say no with love and still maintain connection

What are you’re beliefs about addiction?  Are your beliefs leading you to solutions or are they causing you more pain?