Addiction: A Purpose in a Purposeless World

Addiction is “the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse dependency consequences”. In this article I want to zoom into the meaning of the word “adverse” as it appears in this definition of addiction. Because what is “adverse”? Is it adverse when you are ruining your liver? As what people are allegedly doing by drinking. Or is it adverse when you are ruining your lungs? As what people are allegedly doing by smoking. Is it adverse to be a pervert? As is allegedly the case for those who are “sex addicts”. What is “adversity”? Let’s take a look at that.

Before being able to know what adversity implies, we need to know relative to what an an act will be adverse. After all, the same action can be benficial or adverse, depending upon the purpose one had with the action. So let’s take the most absract purpose one could have, and apply it to you: what’s the purpose of your life? Do you want to become an astronaut? If so, then you know what to do: study the universe, apply to NASA and hope for the best. Do you want to become a professional football player? If so, then you know what to do: train like hell and hope you will get through the selection process. So far so good. But what if you don’t know what to do? What if not every cell in your body pulls you into the direction of your dreams? What if your mind isn’t occupied all day by thoughts of you playing in a full stadium, with supporters chanting your name for the entire match? Then you’ve got a problem, right? Because your mind isn’t going to rest; it will keep on pulling and pulling without knowing where to pull to. So how are you going to to stop this? How are you – if you don’t have a clear purpose in life – make sure your mind doesn’t keep on reminding you of the purposeless of your existence?

Well, maybe you could just decide to find out what’s your purpose in life? Figure out what you want to do, where you heart lies etc. etc. But let’s be fair: that’s easier said than done, isn’t it? I don’t know if you ever sat down one afternoon and through deeply about what is “your purpose in life”; if you did, you might have experienced that finding your life’s purpose isn’t like a Sudoku-puzzle: the answer is not written on the backside of the paper. So what to do now? How to keep your mind and body occupied without having that all-encompassing purpose leading the way?

You could start smoking, or drinking, or even better: you could start using cocaine or heroine. Because one thing is for sure: although these goods might not be “healthy” – in the sense of being beneficial to your body – they sure as hell provide you with a purpose in life. A purpose to make money in order to buy cigarettes, a purpose to run to the liquor store in order to grab that booze, and a purpose to rob the old lady on the street in order to get some cash so that you can buy your drugs. It’s just another way to keep your mind occupied, right?

Let’s be fair people: the is no “Purpose” (with a capital “p”) in life, right? There is no single goal each one of use should strive for. There is no single benchmark along which to measure your degree of success in life. So we should be damn happy if we find something that we find worthwhile to do, right? Because we have to do something. We cannot do nothing. Everyone needs a purpose. But some of us have been more “lucky” in finding our purpose than others. Some of us might know by heart what they’re “destined to do”, while others are just wandering around, answering their need for a purpose by laying their hands on drugs and booze; all to silence the mind and have – consciously or not – a purpose in life.

So let’s be mild, shall we? Let’s not condemn the addicts of this world for the “purposeless” lives they’re seeming to live. It’s bad enough for them that they don’t have a purpose; that they’re trying to fill the gap of purposelessness with other – “lesser” – means. Let’s just be happy for our purposes in life and fulfill them with flair.

Don’t you think so?

Written by Rob Graumans

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