A reader of TheTruth requested the following as a suggestion for an article:
Maybe an article about what society gains from treating a disease that isn’t real (addiction). One thought off the top of my head is that advertising and capitalism depend on being able to create and control compulsions in people so that they will keep consuming, even if they don’t actually need what they are buying. This mechanism is the same as the one that keeps people believing in the power of drugs (although the mythological drug appetite is wanton and evil). The crime isn’t so much being addicted to something as it is being addicted to the wrong thing. I don’t know…there’s an angle somewhere in there that might be worth pursuing. I applaud what you are doing to empower addicts, truly, but on one hand I am not sure if the People In Charge actually want people to be *too* empowered. 😛
This post has a tremendous amount of different angles and subjects to dig into. First, we should address the “create and control compulsions” idea.
People consume substances to feel something – to feel better, a euphoria, or the like – which some substances reliably provide. With that said, we know that people do not always feel the same things when using the same substance. For example, one might experience heightened aggression when drinking whiskey, while another might experience becoming happier and more social. This dichotomy of experience with the same drug, in this case alcohol, brings up the “power” a drug is supposedly given. If a drug supposedly CAUSES you to feel a certain way, then why can it CAUSE you to feel an infinite range of feelings when ingested. If we take an antibiotic, it attacks certain bacteria. It has absolutely reliable results. We know what it can do, and it does it. But, because common antibiotics do not have a significant or even noticeable effect on the brain’s processing capability, we do not ascribe other mental and emotional powers to them. Substances that effect our brain’s capacity to function normally, like alcohol or cocaine for instance, are given these powers because of one simple fact; these substances have an effect on the speed in which you process thoughts. Within the observation that some substances do have this power, one fact is missing, and its a big one – your brain is not your mind.
Your mind is what feels, thinks and initiates behaviors – not your brain. Your brain simply processes the thoughts and feelings of the mind, and also processes stimuli from the outside world and feeds that info back to the mind to be analyzed by the thinker. Now, why are these facts important in terms of the idea that capitalism depends on being able to control compulsions in people as a means to keep them consuming, as our reader explained above? The answer is that capitalism depends on learning to take place; learning that drugs and alcohol have power is necessary if you wish to keep the myth of powerful substances alive. Learning occurs in the mind – not the brain where drugs do their handiwork. Without the belief in “powerful substances” there is no need for substance abuse treatment. You see, drugs are inert. They have no will, they cannot think, they are entirely predictable. The effects on brain tissue are well studied, and again predictable. But what is NOT predictable is what people BELIEVE a drug can do to them or for them. In the addiction mythology point of view, a drug can make someone get into a fight, rob a store, and cheat on their wife. But of course this cannot be possible, because a substance effects only the brain, it does not effect the mind – the thinker. What effects the mind is the beliefs one holds there. If they believe a drug causes them to cheat – well then they cheat. If they believe a drug allows them the excuse to rob someone, they will rob someone and blame the drug.
The Substance Will
In order for a culture to buy into the need for treatment, substances must have power over the MIND, not just effect the brain’s processing speed and function. In America, and now the West, there is the belief that substances have that power – that they are causal beings with a will and mind of their own. Here at TheTruth we call this belief the “substance will.” This brings us back to the idea of learning. As humans we learn customs and beliefs and how to feel about our circumstances. In regards to substances we have learned that they are supernatural – not just inert substances that effect brain tissue in very predictable and reliable ways. Add in beliefs, feelings, and subscribed causal powers, and suddenly substances now affect not only the brain, but our motives, our moods, cause depression, cause mania, cause anxiety, cure anxiety, cure depression, allow us to focus, allow us to not focus, allow us to be kinder, mellower, more aggressive, more sexual, less sexual, the list is endless!! Does not the all inclusiveness of this list cause one to pause and see the absurdity that substances cannot actually CAUSE all levels of mood and behavior; that substances are not living causal beings with their own will bent on our destruction. The power of substances are whatever we have learned they are. We use that knowledge to our advantage and sometimes to our demise.
Once the myth of the substance will is exposed, there becomes no need for treatment at all. The West has simply passively learned this myth over the last century and an entire industry to address the addiction religion has been established to the tune of 40 billion dollars per year. 200 years from now, there will be books that discuss the Addiction Age, just as we talk about the Industrial Age and the Information Age. The difference with Addiction Age is that destructive myths have no place in moving mankind forward – and thus the reason we need to bring sanity and logic back to the forefront of the discussion. And a good place to start is with the idea that substances are not alive, and that your brain is not your mind! With the understanding of those two facts there is no need to fear a substance, nor is there any logical reason to enter treatment. With substances containing no inherent power, you can now understand the myth of addiction and simply move past it.
As a substance use researcher for more than 26 years, it is important for me to say that I do not believe that treatment centers or the addiction field in general is trying to control the masses with proactive addiction mythology. Rather, mankind moves in a direction of ascribing beliefs to things and subjects that seem to mystify him, and he does so with boring regularity. We see it throughout politics, in war, in torn societies, etc. Beliefs can bind man to misery, but the truth can, and always eventually sets him free. As a friend of mine once said, “in the fullness of time, all things will get done.” I agree – and addiction mythology, like all the previous exposed myths of man’s history, will be set straight. The good news is that addiction is a straw man, and if we know anything, we know a straw man isn’t very strong at all – and neither is “addiction.”