What is addiction really?

Helpful as our previous discussion on addiction might be, a broader view is necessary to fully understand addiction. Dr Maté states that the use of substances like heroin, cocaine, nicotine and alcohol are obvious examples, yet many behavioural, non substance addictions can be highly destructive to physical health, psychological balance, and personal and social relationships. Therefore, we have to return to addiction and admit our own addictions in as far as our behaviours are persistent and regardless of its negative and destructive impact on our own physical health, psychological balance, and personal and social relationships.

Addiction involves:

  1. Compulsive engagement with the behaviour, a preoccupation with it;
  2. Impaired control over the behaviour;
  3. Persistence or relapse despite evidence of harm; and
  4. Dissatisfaction, irritability, or intense craving when the object (drug, activity or goal) is not immediately available.

What might then be useful is to reflect on what you struggle to cope with and what you know, deep down, has to change. In the words of Naguib Mahfouz (Palace of Desire): “The problem isn’t that the truth is harsh but that liberation from ignorance is as painful as being born. Run after truth until you’re breathless. Accept the pain involved in recreating yourself afresh. These ideas will take a life to comprehend, a hard one interspersed with drunken moments.”

So wellness and well-being comes into the picture. We know our fast-paced lives. We know our addictions and we know how hard we work and play. Therefore, as we learnt how to ride a bicycle or swim or play rugby or soccer, in a similar way we have to learn again how to take care of ourselves. There are many alternative ways that are effective, not only to help us cope, but also to help us live more wholly and fully in the moment. As we grow in consciousness we become more present. As we become more present, we experience a more unified state of awareness, experiencing increased interconnectedness, leading in turn, to reduced anxiety and increased ability to live more fully in the present moment.


The blending of hard core academic research with ‘spiritual’ topics is refreshing and highly significant in the world today. People in all walks of life are searching for meaning and this thesis goes a long way in providing answers that will aid the everyday man in the street to manage his/her stressors with dignity and purpose.