The Opposite of Addiction is… What? (Hint: It’s Not Sobriety)


“Almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.” — Johann Hari

There’s an ongoing debate in the recovery community as to how to diagnosis methamphetamine — or any — addiction. Is meth addiction a disease (majority view)?

Or perhaps it is a kind of learning disorder, like ADD or OCD, where the brain has learned to expect the abnormally high dopamine rush of meth as the new normal?

Or perhaps addiction is not abnormal at all, but a normal adaption of the brain after repeated exposure to meth? All this matters because the better we understand addiction, the more options we have for treatment.

And this is all to introduce Johan Hari’s provoking TEDTalk: Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong. With over two million views and counting, it’s fairly short as lectures go, clocking in under fifteen minutes.

Though, I don’t completely agree with everything he says, his out-of-the-box observations in this TEDTalk are crucial in informing how I approach recovery today.

Again, I don’t believe that Hari’s view of addiction is the whole story, but I do believe he’s correct in the larger picture. I do believe “connectivity” with others is an indispensible part of recovery from addiction.

So, what’s the opposite of addiction? Connection.


(For more detail, see Hari’s latest book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.)

  • Becki

    What a great message! I know that when I was sober for over a year, I would literally cry whenever I had a happy moment, a connection with something or someone that would bring me joy and contentness, or when I would go somewhere that I spent my own hard working money on (i.e. restaurant or concert) and it was because I would never have had that before when I was using. Meth use was (and is) a debilitating illness – addition to my major depression – that disconnects me from the world and living life. And when I’m down n out, besides thinking “if they only knew what I’m really dealing with or feeling”, all I want is recognition and the knowing that however I act or whatever mood I’m in, that others would still love me with open arms.

    • So glad you “get” it… yes, connectivity is one of the best ways to stop addiction. (Maybe you can forward her the link to the TEDtalk and then that might be an entry for you both to get together and talk about what Hari says.) Just keep connecting. I’m not saying to stop doing other strategies that work for your recovery, but do add “truly connecting with others” as another and give it a high priority.

      Becki, let’s find happiness again. You so deserve THAT life, not the one meth makes for you. To the core of my being, I believe you CAN quit meth again — and for good. You know it too, because you quit once before. It’s time, right?