What's your addiction?

· 1 min read

When I began smoking cigarettes at the age of 16, I had no idea I would be smoking for another ten years. Nor did I know that it would take me more than a year to quit. I hid the habit from my life partner, afraid she'd break up with me. A pack of cigarettes in New York costs $15. I smoked half a pack a day, always with an irritated, red throat and persistent cough. With complete determination to quit, I threw away dozens of full packs, having smoked just one cigarette. Rain, cold, or snow, I would go outside to smoke even at 3 am. Wasting money, damaging my health, ashamed of myself, and still unable to quit. This was my first encounter with addiction.

If you've never had a substance abuse issue, you probably don't think this is relevant to you. Addiction, however, is not an all-or-nothing matter. It's a continuous scale. You can be addicted to shopping, alcohol, work, porn, sex, sugar, gym, tv, social media, success, and more. Buddhists believe we are all addicted to... thinking. I'm convinced nearly all people everywhere are addicted to something. Why does it matter?

The cause of addictive behavior can be trivialized to brain neurochemistry. But every addiction has a positive intent and a logical reason. An addict claims that the addiction is useful in some way. "It helps me relax." It's true — I used cigarettes as an aid when I was bored, anxious, or lonely. These triggers indicate a form of spiritual deficiency. Dissatisfaction with who you are, where you are, and where you are going. Just like physical pain, they give direction and should not be ignored.

What finally helped me quit was the famous "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking" (1985) by Allen Carr. The genius of this book is the realization that addiction is not enjoyable.

– "Smokers do not smoke because they enjoy it. They do it because they are miserable without it."

Inspired by "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts" (2008) by Gabor Maté.

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