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A New Theory of Addiction

A New Theory of Addiction

For a long time, far too long, the dialogue surrounding addiction has been dangerously inaccurate. The belief that the central cause of addiction is the addictive substance itself has influenced the way we treat individuals struggling with addictions, the type of legislation we create to regulate drug use, and often the way we talk to children about drug and alcohol use.

But recent research has opened the door to a new way of thinking about addictions. Studies of both rats and human beings show that what matters more isn’t access to addictive substances, but the amount of support and depth of connection felt by individual people.

Human beings are social creatures, and when we are suffering we rely on connection with other creatures to help us through. We thrive on emotional and social support. However, when we are not receiving that support, when we are isolated or traumatized, we seek that connection wherever we can find it. Substance abuse is just one example of how we can build that connection with something other than a fellow human being.

What we need to do, as individuals and as a society, is focus on building a strong support base for ourselves for those who are struggling. We know that groups such as AA can provide that support for those already struggling with addictions, as can families, friends, and therapists. But we must also begin to provide support and connection to people before they begin to look for those bonds elsewhere – the solution can also be the method of prevention.

Watch the video linked below for more information:


“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”

Tammy Benwell