The End of Addictions?

By Ronald Hill 07/20/17

Should the addiction struggle be considered normal behavior in the context of our humanness?

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Dr. Ronald Hill

If everyone is addicted to something, is the concept of addictions obsolete? Or, if everyone is "crazy" then does "crazy" become the new normal? Certainly crazy isn’t a medical term nor PC, but if you thumb through the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition you might get the impression that everyone has some sort of mental problem.

If this sounds like just silly wordplay, well consider this: Way back in 1954 Aldous Huxley wrote a little book, The Doors of Perception and a companion book, Heaven and Hell. Huxley wrote of his experiences with taking mescaline. Huxley borrowed these titles from William Blake, the English poet. The band, The Doors, took their name from Huxley’s title.

What does this have to do with addictions, treatment and recovery? Plenty. Huxley and Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA, were friends and Huxley reportedly supplied his friend with pharmaceutical-grade LSD, still legal back then. Evidently Huxley opened doors for quite a few people. Also, Jim Morrison and The Doors, despite the passing years, have not been forgotten. In fact, Morrison’s grave is the most frequently visited at The Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. That’s saying a lot because Père Lachaise is the largest and most visited cemetery in Paris.

There’s even a restaurant/bar devoted to Jim Morrison just outside the cemetery entrance. The Recording Industry Association of America lists The Doors as one of the most popular bands of all time and reports that their recordings continue to sell. There was and remains something in the band’s songs that still touches that place in all of us, inside those doors of perception.

But I digress. In the less known and presumably less read book Heaven and Hell, Huxley thoroughly explains how, down through the ages, humans have found ways to escape the often mundane and sometimes cruel realities of day-to-day life. Some of those methods were extraordinary, not just seeking out intoxicating plants and making alcoholic beverages out of just about anything and everything, but also through self-torture.

One example Huxley cites was the practice of self-flagellation. Huxley explains that the act of whipping oneself releases various consciousness-altering substances. Also, the poisons excreted by those infections that arose from the wounds evoked "visions" or "religious experiences."

Huxley uses these examples to backup his thesis that we humans need, in fact must have, breaks from reality in order to maintain our sanity. Sounds contradictory doesn’t it? But just consider our evolving lifestyles and recreations. Most of us enjoy a night out to see a movie on a big screen, or a concert or simply watching TV, playing video games, or just surfing the Net. These are simple distractions to relieve our tired psyches, if only for an hour or two. We enjoy these small reality breaks without even considering their addictive potentials.

Now we come to the chicken and egg dilemma. Or is it a dilemma? I ask this because whether a person with a so-called addictive personality gets hooked on anything or that anything creates the addiction is really a moot point. Rather we must look at those sometimes excessive behaviors as a natural part of being human. Certainly people struggle with addictions and against self-destructive behaviors. Shouldn’t this struggle be considered normal behavior in the context of our humanness?

After working more than 15 years in the treatment industry, I strongly advocate for the treatment process. I’m retired now, so I don’t have to, nor am I paid to endorse any treatment center or treatment in general. Not because treatment centers work miracles, (although sometimes miracles seem to happen in them). We should leave the door open to miracles, but more to the point, treatment provides a necessary respite from self-destructive acts: a redirect. But it’s not only what happens in group sessions and one-on-one counseling that promotes the healing process, it is the connection with others that can help sustain a clean and sober lifestyle.

What is my point then? Simply to step back from the hysteria of the so-called drug wars and try to consider exploring other realities as a natural, and for the great majority, healthy process. Let’s try not to take ourselves too seriously.

Dr. Hill is a former drug and alcohol counselor from New York City, now living in Paris. Since retiring he has written three novels and a book of short stories under the nom de plume Douglas Warren, all available on Amazon. His latest book titled Different Worlds is what he calls his "recovery tale'" about twins separated at birth who become addicts but eventually find each other and start down the road of recovery. Check out his Amazon author’s page here.

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Dr. Ronald Hill is a former drug and alcohol counselor from New York City, now living in Paris. Since retiring he has written three novels and a book of short stories under the nom de plume Douglas Warren, all available on Amazon. His latest book titled Different Worlds is what he calls his "recovery tale'" about twins separated at birth who become addicts but eventually find each other and start down the road of recovery. Check out his Amazon author’s page here.

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