I just got back from a seminar on Addictions. This series is specifically about drug addiction but the same premise for underlying causes holds true for all addictions. An addiction is defined as any behaviour that has negative consequences yet is continually craved and sought after. This includes behaviour addictions such as being a workaholic, over-eating, shopping, excessive computer use...
So there are a few factors involved with addiction including poor impulse and stress regulation, and messed up endorphin and dopamine circuitry. Again, NOT by choice, but circumstance. This doctor argued it is not nature, but nurture.
Infants have no stress regulation control, it can only occur via bonding between infant and caregiver. The most important elevation of endorphins occurs with early interaction of parent and child. If a child has a consistently available and non-stressed caregiver, stress regulation and endorphin levels will be achieved. If an infant or child has a caregiver who is consistently stressed, depressed, or unavailable, this brain circuitry is not developed properly. The good news is that the brain always has plasticity and can learn different patterns. This doctor stressed there is no blame here. No parent decides to be stressed or depressed.
This doctor who spoke, Gabor Mate, works in a clinic in Vancouver's East Side, a place where there is so much heroin use that it has the highest rate of HIV transmission in the world. His point was that we, as a society, need to be more compassionate in our treatment of drug addicts.
As a community, we need to develop a support system so that families and individuals are not so isolated.
We live in a culture of addiction. We are never good enough, talented enough, pretty enough. We often feel empty, hungry and non-sufficient as individuals. We feel like who we are is not enough, to others, to ourselves. Stretch your arms and reach out.
The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.
One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.
What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.
~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.