The Search for Gratification

The following is in response to a querry about "additive" personalities, and are certain types more apt to become addicted to substances than others.

Addictions, writes Dr. Andrew Weil, can fool us into thinking we feel better. But this is only temporarily true and what we are really doing is giving our addictions power over our inner selves.

Addiction is a basic human problem that all men and women experience in some form. I reject the concept of "addictive personality" unless it includes everyone.The only reason we do not see the universality of this problem is that some kinds of addictive behavior, such as making money, drinking coffee, falling in love, exercising, and working compulsively, are socially acceptable and do not attract attention.

Addiction is not a psychological or phamacological problem and cannot be solved by methods of psychology and pharmacology. It [addiction] is at root a spiritual concern becuase it represents a misdirected attempt to achieve wholeness, to experience inner completeness and satisfaction.

Why do we think that we need something to make us feel content: another slice of pizza, a piece of chocolate, a cigarette, a drink, a snort, a lover, another possession? Is there a way to feel complete and whole in ourselves without reaching for an external source of satisfaction?

Since the roots of Addiction penetrate deeply into the very essence of our humanness, changing addictive behavior is not easy. For some of us it may be the work of a lifetime. A basic strategy for wellness is to be free of harmful habits. If we cannot easily change our addictive nature, we can try to be aware of our addictions and work to move them in directions that are less harmful. For example, a cigarette addict who stops smokIng and becomes an exercise addict is no less an addict but is a much healthier one.

We all come into the world with wounds; they come with human birth, no matter what kind of family we grow up in, no matter what kind of society we live in. Much of our human seeking is a search for healing. We long for a sense of completeness and wholeness and for an end to craving. Most often we look for satisfaction outside of ourselves. That is the root of addiction.

Ironically, whatever satisfaction we gain from food, drugs, sex, money and other "sources" of pleasure really comes from inside us. We project our power onto external substances and activities, allowing them to make us feel better temporarily. This is a strange sort of magic. We give our power away in order to achieve a transient sense of wholeness, then suffer because the objects of our craving seem to have power over us. Addiction can be cured only when we consciously experience this process, reclaim our power, and realize that wounds must be healed from within. Suffering and craving goad us into action, forcing us to discover who we are, to identify with our true selves.

Excerpted from Natural Health, Natural
Medicine by Andrew Weil, M.D.


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