Revolutionary Definition of Addiction and Proposal for Its Cause and
In this article:
IS ADDICTION?—A New Defintion of Addiction
Most people associate the word addiction with alcohol
or drugs, but that association severely and inappropriately limits
the extent of addiction in our society. A new definition of addiction
is needed, one which will give us a better grasp of the nature of addiction
and will enable us to approach its treatment in a far more productive
Addiction is the compulsive use of any substance, person,
feeling, or behavior with a relative disregard of the potentially negative
social, psychological, and physical consequences.
This definition of addiction creates a much broader—and
more accurate—picture of addiction, which we will demonstrate
in much greater detail throughout the remainder of this article. Before
we can meaningfully continue our discussion of addiction, however,
we must first consider its causes in a new way.
ARE THE CAUSES OF DRUG ADDICTION AND OTHER TYPES OF ADDICTION?
Despite all the research done on this subject, there
is no consensus on the cause of addiction. Some theories have been
- Genetic: We are born with a genetic predisposition
- Bio-chemical: There is a chemical imbalance in the
nervous system that makes us more susceptible to addiction.
- Mental illness: Addicts have a kind of mental illness.
Regardless of the specific cause
espoused, most experts regard addiction as a disease, and many believe
it’s inherited. They believe that people inherit the tendency
to addiction, even if they never actually become addicted to a specific
A New and Powerful Explanation for Addiction
Dr. Baer has now worked intimately with thousands of
addicts, and he proposes a cause for addiction that is radically different
from those generally discussed. This proposal explains the overall
data of addiction better than other theories do, and this proposed
cause has allowed the development of a treatment plan that has proven
to be very effective with thousands of addicts.
Addiction is not a disease. Addiction is a response
“After extensive interviews with thousands of
addicts,” says Dr. Baer, “less than one percent of them
fail to respond enthusiastically to this definition of addiction and
the clarification of the causes of drug addiction, whereas most of
them have had serious problems with the usual definitions and explanations.”
In order to understand the cause of drug addiction,
we must first understand what is required for human beings to be happy,
a subject sorely neglected in mental health research and literature.
We tend to usually focus our attention to an inappropriate degree on
illness and on the treatment of disease. We all understand that physical
health requires more than simply the elimination of disease. In order
to be physically healthy, we must also attend to positive qualities
and behaviors—nutrition, exercise, shelter, and so on. In a similar
way, mental health requires that we attend to the acquisition and maintenance
of positive required elements, not just the elimination of negative
factors, or disease.
The most important requirement for our emotional health
and happiness is to feel loved. Our souls require feeling loved in
just as real a way as our bodies require air and food. We need to feel
cared for and to feel connected to other human beings. There’s
a reason that such a huge portion of our novels and movies take love
as a theme. Love is a basic human need.
But not just any kind of love will do. The only kind
of love that can fill us up and make us whole emotionally is Real Love.
Real Love is caring about the happiness of another person
without any thought for what we might get for ourselves.
It’s also Real Love when other people care about
our happiness unconditionally. With Real Love, people are not disappointed
or angry when we make our foolish mistakes, when we don’t do
what they want, or even when we inconvenience them personally.
When I use the word happiness, I do not mean the brief
and superficial pleasure that comes from money, sex, power, and the
conditional approval we earn from others when we behave as they want.
Nor do I mean the temporary feeling of satisfaction we experience in
the absence of immediate conflict or disaster. Real happiness is not
the feeling we get from being entertained or making people do what
we want. It’s a profound and lasting sense of peace and fulfillment
that deeply satisfies and enlarges the soul. It doesn’t go away
when circumstances are difficult. It survives and even grows during
hardship and struggle. True happiness is our entire reason to live,
and it can only be obtained as we find Real Love and share it with
others. With Real Love, nothing else matters; without it, nothing else
Sadly, few of us have sufficiently received or given
Real Love. From the time we were small children, we observed that when
we didn’t fight with our sisters, didn’t make too much
noise in the car, got good grades, and were otherwise obedient and
cooperative, our parents and others smiled at us, patted our heads,
and spoke kindly. With their words and behavior, they told us what
good boys and girls we were, and we felt loved.
But what happened when we did fight with our sisters,
made too much noise, got bad grades, and dragged mud across the clean
living room carpet? Did people smile at us then or speak gentle, loving
words? No—they frowned, sighed with disappointment, and often
spoke in harsh tones. Just as the positive behaviors of other people
communicated to us that we were loved, we could interpret the withdrawal
of those behaviors only as an indication that we were not being loved.
Although it was unintentional, our parents and others taught us this
terrible message: “When you’re good, I love you, but when
you’re not, I don’t—or certainly I love you a great
This conditional love can give us brief moments of satisfaction,
but we’re still left with a huge hole in our souls, because only
Real Love can make us genuinely happy. When someone is genuinely concerned
about our happiness, we feel connected to that person. We feel included
in his or her life, and in that instant we are no longer alone. Each
moment of unconditional acceptance creates a living thread to the person
who accepts us, and these threads weave a powerful bond that fills
us with a gRevenuine and lasting happiness. Nothing but Real Love can
do that. In addition, when we know that even one person loves us unconditionally,
we feel a connection to everyone else. We feel included in the family
of all mankind, of which that one person is a part.
Without sufficient Real Love, we can only feel empty
and alone, which is our greatest fear and source of pain.
Continue reading about
Addiction: What we do in the absence of Real Love