We’ve been sharing thoughts on addiction in general and the relationship to spirituality or lack of spiritual connection. It’s a very personal journey. There could be a family of many children. All are doing well except one, to the dismay of everyone in this otherwise stable religious milieu. That one child is the quirky person who doesn’t “get it.” He doesn’t get fulfillment through the religion, so develops an addiction. Depending on how destructive the behavior becomes, it has an impact on the family at large.
Destructive behaviors may quickly develop and fill the void. With our highly technical world, we’ve got a lot more things to fill that void. It gets more and more difficult for people to take that “journey without distance” internally, to find that inner sense of connection.
One of our colleagues in the Addiction world, Chana (pronounced “Hana,” like the road to Hana, Hawaii) Carro is a licensed independent Substance Abuse Counselor, with over 24 years’ experience. She says, “In other times and in other lands, where people are much more involved on a daily basis with the procurement of food, clothing and shelter, they have less opportunity to be involved in these kinds of behaviors or to look for, or have less accessibility to, substances. In our culture, we are adrift in a sea of leisure and we have much more opportunity. We also have much less extended family involvement. We have much less contact with our neighbors. We have many, many more voids.”
She goes on to explain, “When a person is involved in the pursuit of addiction, their relationship to the substance or the behavior could be understood in some sense as an idolatrous involvement, meaning that you’re seeking from that substance or from that behavior something that it cannot provide. Your soul cannot be nourished in the way that it needs to be.” The use of any mood altering substance, beyond a certain level of use, acts like a toxin in the mind, disrupting connection or the ability to connect spiritually.
Chana makes a distinction between the excess of the permitted and entry into the forbidden. In the early years of the 12 Step Programs, overeaters were described as among the “not so sick.” That would be a case of excessive reliance on the permitted. There’s nothing unholy about eating in itself. There’s nothing particularly destructive about it. If you persist in overeating, however, you have very destructive consequences. It is not qualitatively the same as entering the world of an altered brain in heroin, crack cocaine or methamphetamine abuse. Why does it happen?