Griselda and all,
I wouldn't say that "people stumble blindly into addiction". But of course a condition - of social or psychological neglect and/or because they know or find no other way to deal with their overwhelming problems, and thats what deprives them of their willpower - makes a person susceptible to engage in addictive behaviors or to abuse addictive substances.
One becomes addicted because one becomes dependent on their effects. E.g. nobody who drinks, smokes or whatever excessive amounts of notoriously addictive substances, does so without becoming aware of it, or as you wrote: "...they often only realize when it is too late". And "it is too late" is when they are addicted. So if you are saying that they realize when it is too late, it is basically the same as I wrote that they are aware of their addiction.
And when somebody starts taking notoriously addictive substances, I would say that they choose that path with whatever willpower they have left, but still deliberately, as there are various choices. And nobody else makes that choice for them, unless they are forced to take them e.g. in a psychiatric hospital.
According to Wikipedia, an addiction is an:
"...attachment...a compulsion..." with "...harmful consequences..." and
"Psychological dependence does not have to be limited only to
substances; even activities and behavioural patterns can be considered
addictions, if they become uncontrollable..." and
"...Psychological dependency is a dependency of the mind, and leads to psychological withdrawal symptoms (such as cravings, irritability, insomnia, depression, anorexia etc). Addiction can in theory be derived from any rewarding behaviour, and is believed to be strongly associated with the dopaminergic system of the brain's reward system (as in the case of cocaine and amphetamines)."
So the question is, are capitalists who hoard excessive amounts of money and material wealth, people who shop excessive amounts of nonessentials or religious people who are hooked on an idea of a God and doctrines, which are based on books which themselves are based on supposedly divine afflatus or visions without any consolidation with reality, are they all not also attached or compulsively engaging in their specific activity too? which in most cases has harmful consequences too, only more often to their environment or to other people.
And when they are deprived of their specific activity, does it not lead to any of the withdrawal symptoms?
So if I rate addiction to plant or chemical substances alongside religion, shopping and capitalism, I do so because in any case it is either a physical or a psychological dependency, but both are connected with an attachment or compulsion and have some sort of harmful consequences.
I would even say that psychologically addictive behaviors - like religion, shopping or capitalism - are more dangerous as the addicts become less aware of their dependence and of the harmful consequences, than substance addicts - who may very well deny their addiction towards other people. But who is stupid enough to believe that such excesses are not prove of an addiction and harmful one way or another?
Whinnie, if you write that "who rates abuse of, or addiction to plant substances alongside religion shopping and capitalism is already pretty much in some kind of denial themselves."
In what kind of denial? Denial that people with an infirmity or an affliction depend on crutches like religion, shopping, capitalism or addictive substances?
Griselda: Whether addicts are born or made, I think to some extent both play a role. E.g. I would consider my experience with Cannabis a psychological addiction, because I took it everyday and because I did have only psychological withdrawal symptoms. But since I got sober, I did not have any other addictions, no tobaccos, no alcoholic drinks, no doctrines or ideologies without sensible and proven consolidation with reality, no nonsense behaviors like excessive shopping or hoarding of capital, not even any cravings, just healthy human nature and my dream about how I want to live my life in a good-natured way; and I'm talking about the past 25 years. I have a strong desire for independence and therefore do not consider myself to have a disposition to addiction. Still in unfavorable conditions of overwhelming problems I became addicted.
Though I would like to mention two unusual qualities of Cannabis, which gave it the characterisation as a soft drug: For one thing it takes a very long time to get completely sober and therefore the hangover is relatively weak, as is the high.
But what was even more astonishing, was that unlike most drugs, I never felt a need to increase the amount; even though the hangover was kicking in and reducing the effect of the high. At least that was my experience.
And at least to psychologically healthy and stable persons I would say that to get high of it once, is better than to smoke tobacco or to get drunk, as it certainly shows a new unexpected and positive perspective towards ones perceptions and life, and as such may very well have positive or even healing long term effects on ones sense, insight, sympathy and appreciation.
As life, the fusion of intelligence and energy, is the expression of the divine, get high on life and be prepared to let go.
With sympathy to all the truly good-natured people, animals and nature itself!
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