Even those of us who are recovering addicts continue to have other areas of our lives where addiction continues to reign. This is pretty natural, it turns out. All people are pre-programmed with certain traits and qualities that predispose us to addictive behavior. The severity of these vices varies from person to person and between cultures but these few points of interest serve to remind us all that our brains are not always helping us stay sober and clean.
1 – We all have a Vice
It’s easy to consider yourself to be in the group of non-addicts when you’ve never had to go to rehab or pawn something to pay for a fix but consider the prevalence of caffeine, tobacco, and other addictive substances that have free reign in our society to corrupt our health, wallets, and mentality. Not everyone struggles with illegal narcotics but almost everyone has some area of life in which we encounter compulsive behavior or addiction.
2 – Our Brains are Wired for Addiction
The brain is largely a survival mechanism of the human animal and serves to reward behavior that will keep it alive and to survive into the next generation. Since most of human evolution has taken place in a competitive landscape of survival of the fittest, the brain didn’t evolve a sense of moderation. It’s programmed to seek the things that stimulate the reward centers in the brain, and to seek them endlessly. We store fat when we get too much because next month there might not be any food. The same goes for sugars and other chemical rewards. The brain doesn’t have an off switch for craving this stuff, it just seeks it continuously. In a culture of abundance like ours, this is why we struggle so much with self control and sobriety.
3 – Addiction can be (and is) Exploited
Once the clever minds among us figured out the nature of addiction, it didn’t take long for it to be profitable to exploit these natural addictive tendencies in man. For example, in recent decades the snack-food makers figured out ways to scientifically design snacks that create an addictive urge in us after we consume and they never actually satisfy our hunger. There was profit in creating something people want to eat endlessly and so they did it. It’s not just the corner drug dealer who profits from the natural addictive tendencies in our brain and body.
4 – People will always Self-Medicate
Given that we are hard-wired for addiction to some degree and we live in a culture that profits from exploiting this facet of our physiology, we’re ripe for a dangerous situation if left unaware of what’s going on around us and what we’re putting in our bodies. But on top of this predatory landscape of addictive foods and substances, we are also prone to seek out remedies for what ails us. People will pump themselves full of caffeine to get that extra work done or turn toward beer and relaxants to ease the stresses of the day. The only way to curb the ill effects of addictive self-medication is to be educated on what we’re using to pacify our own needs and interests.
The world isn’t out to help you live a clean and healthy life. In fact, in some sectors of the world it’s quite the opposite. This means it falls to us individuals and support groups to educate ourselves and one another on the healthiest practices available to us in the modern world. Use your brain to better yourself instead of letting its evolved tendencies destroy you.