While addiction is front-page news with the "opiate crisis,” suffering from addiction has been a companion of the human condition forever. Words such as “overdose” and “suicide” convey the consequences of this common condition filling the media with endless stories of robberies, murders, divorces, abuses, and losses.
The beginning of addiction is pain. What is it about the alleviation of pain, even for a few moments, that becomes so consuming that one ends up destroying oneself and others?
One core thought at the root of addiction is the urge for liberation, freedom and joy. This urge is from the soul, the depth of being. Confronted with the cultural, educational, familial ways of life that are often dismissive of this spiritual longing or relegate it to meaningless rituals and rules, the opportunity to escape to a "high" is welcome relief. Thus pleasure as a way to escape pain, becomes a substitute for true joy. But the pain of spiritual longing will not be satisfied through addiction to an external source be it drugs, work, sex, or alcohol.
The urge to discover who we are and what life is really all about is a given. It is not a “problem.” There is nothing “wrong” with us for recognizing this longing. Until we face this and use our capacities to live in the direction toward authentic being, there will be no peace. There may be “highs” and “pleasures” but these will not last.
The fact that pain is painful reveals that pain is not our true nature. It is a severe “wakeup” message that is meaningful. To repress or attempt to escape pain is not healthy. The way out of pain is to face it, learn from it and then let it be healed.
Healing is the return to our underlying wholeness. It is an interest in discovering our whole, unbroken selves that heals, not the quest to stop the pain.
On this journey it is possible to discover that we are not a jam-up of resentments, rejections and wanting, but a free flowing river of love, intelligence, clarity and wisdom.
The water is not in the pollution and the pollution is not in the water.