The Nature of Addiction

You should not beat yourself up about addiction. Nature is addicted to the sun. Worms are addicted to the earth. Birds are addicted to flight. It’s all just a part of nature’s magnificent plan.

Human beings are. part of nature’s plan too. And so, we are naturally addicted to certain things: air to breathe, food to sustain us, pooping and water to keep our blood pumping. But our addictions also stretch to the mental, spiritual and emotional domains, where we are addicted to happiness.

Therefore, all substance addiction, behavioural addiction or obsessive addiction can be understood as a search for a substitute. No happy person ever got addicted. Only an unhappy person, need find a substitute for happiness.

The human spirit, happiness, is at the heart of all human desire, be it physical, mental or spiritual, that desire seeks happiness and happiness is as close as we can come to describing the experience of spirituality.

If you do not enjoy something you will either try to make it enjoyable or run away from it. This is true of a job, relationship or even life itself. At its worst, when we cannot find a substitute for happiness, when the spirit is defeated and we can find no replacement, we die, slow or fast suicide.

The human spirit is joy. Enjoyment. And there are so many examples of how important this is:

  • A person who enjoys their work is more productive.
  • A person who enjoys the pain of sport, is called a champion
  • A person who enjoys the challenge of parenthood brings up level headed and happy children.
  • A person who enjoys dealing with uncertainty is a great leader.
  • A person who enjoys pleasuring others is a great lover.


When the enjoyment of something is present, sustainability is present. And this is the eternal challenge of living. What we enjoy today and therefore do well at, we might not enjoy tomorrow if it changes or we don’t change. And this is where addictions come in.

Here is where enjoyment and pleasure become two different things: Pleasure is a small part part of enjoying something but only a small part. So, sometimes we get attracted to something, a job, a person, a family, leadership or a sport because it gives us pleasure. And now we made a commitment to something that is pleasureful for a while but not enjoyable for the long haul.

It is important to know the difference between pleasure and enjoyment because this confusion is the source of most unhealthy addiction.

A boy meets a girl. Their eyes meet. There is a feeling of love, of enjoyment. The spirit and soul of each becomes awake. And because all humans are addicted to enjoyment there is a desire not to let go of this moment.This is for everyone, not just the few. This is natural. Nature at its best. But if either of these two individuals were not happy before they met, they have not only found a connection but they have also found a solution, a substitute for their missing enjoyment, the spirit is hungry, the appetites are not fed, and the relationship becomes the primary source of fulfilment.

If a relationship becomes a solution to unhappiness, to unfulfilled spirit, a path to overcoming the lack of enjoyment, then the load on the relationship is more than normal. It is like loading a camel with too many bags of wheat. Not only is the relationship connection a substitute for the enjoyment missing in the other six areas of life, it becomes an addiction, a substitute for happiness, the cause of all pleasure, rather than an expression of it.

Typically all addictions start here because as that first relationship fails, trust in relationship as a primary source of happiness understandably diminishes and other substitutes are sought. Alcohol, gambling, drugs, violence, and more become the substitute package for happiness. They all provide quick pleasure which has now become the addiction.

Pleasure is a small part of happiness. A small part of love. A very small part of enjoying something. But it is a part. When addiction sets in, pleasure in itself has become the primary source of enjoyment and happiness, and so, people do to themselves things that look terrible to the outside observer, but really, to that addict, it’s a source of what we can’t live without: joy.


Walker the Talker

Addiction is simply an attachment to an alternative source. The solution, to dig yourself out of a hole, is to find a new alternative source that doesn’t have the unwanted side effects of the addiction you’ve got.

Happiness is the real source and the best thing to be addicted to in causing you happiness, doesn’t breathe, burn or break. So we get left with one single antidote to addiction to transfer our dependency onto and that is happiness in the form of small things, actions.

An action, such as walking, doesn’t breathe, burn or break. Unlike money, people and crystal vases, happiness that comes from small things, is the original essence of the human condition. The human spirit. Addicted to watching the sunrise is a source of joy. Addicted to chopping vegetables with a smile, addicted to a clean shirt for work.

Actions are better to break the hold of substitutes for happiness because actions can travel with you. They are small, don’t need a third person and can make a big difference.

I recognise that for some, breaking their addiction to a spouse, a chemical, a liquid, a food or making money might be hard at first, but if you can find the right small things to act on, you’ll find the real source of the human spirit. Not in big things, in very very very small.

Please remember the quote that is oh, so true.


Leonardo De Walker

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