Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong: Johann Hari

‘The core of that message, “You’re not alone, we love you,” has to be at every level of how we respond to addicts socially, politically and individually. For one hundred years now, we’ve been singing war songs about addicts. I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them… because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.’

I loved this TED talk by Johann Hari years ago when I first viewed it. And after watching it early this morning, I still love it! Watching the film again reminded me of the words of Tim, a professional working in the field who is also in recovery from addiction, one of the storytellers in our Recovery Stories project.

‘Addiction is about disconnection and loss. Disconnection from loved ones and from self. Loss of values and self-worth.

Recovery is about the opposite. Those connections are found most readily through others making the same journey. Sometimes the connections happen suddenly in epiphanies, but mostly they happen gradually—like a slow dawn. While we professionals can catalyse the process through treatment, I believe the most important thing we can do is to actively connect recovering people into recovery communities.’

‘What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.’ TED, 10 July 2015. [14’42”]