I was having an really interesting conversation with a friend--okay, and it got a little deep.
He said something fascinating to me--which is that everyone is addicted to something.
Think about it--some are addicted to the hard stuff...drugs, alcohol, smoking.
Others are addicted to sex, work, shopping, exercise, even religion.
In modern times, there are new addictions to technology, gaming, and social media.
My friend is smart and we discussed or alluded to a number of reasons for the addictive nature of all people.
1) Meaning - Many people have a tough time dealing with the seemingly meaningless, mortal nature of their lives. Without a strong purpose and meaning, we can sort of float through every day looking for some anchor, stability, or rhythm. Addictions, for better or worse, can provide that habit or repetition compulsion. While not very meaningful itself, these addictions help people forget--temporarily, during their high or while they are being kept busy--that they are perhaps lost amidst it all.
2) Pain - Everyone has pain--emotional, physical, mental--these cause stress on people and their ability to deal or cope can be stretched thin, and they turn to some sort of addiction as a "crutch" to help them get through the day. It reminds me of a very crude song that I overheard years ago, called "F*ck the pain away" (excuse the language here, please). Anyway, simply replace the first word, with "work, shop, drink, and so on and poof, you have opiates (i.e. pain relief) for the masses.
3) Fear - People are afraid--afraid of living, afraid of dying--and addictions take us away from having the time to stop, think, and have to deal with our fears. If every minute, I am running around doing a million things--then I don't have the time to shut it all down and out, and deal with what's really going on inside. In fact, some people credit the Holy Sabbath day, as being beneficial to us to just stopping all that daily stuff at least for one day a week!
We are all human, and there is no one who is immune to looking for meaning, avoiding pain, and dealing with their fears.
The question is do we just throw ourselves into something to keep going or do we take more of a Buddhist approach, accept that life is suffering and try to raise ourselves above it through healthy balance, contemplative meditation, compassion and thinking about others, doing good deeds, and so on.
Keeping busy is good too--but going through life in a drug or otherwise induced fugue is not--then we've lost ourselves, which is maybe the point for our crazy world where addictions abound and we are all too happy to dive right in. ;-)
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Miles Cave)