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I’ve heard almost every argument, scientific or otherwise, explaining how people become addicted to various substances. I’ve heard about them being “predisposed” or having some “chemical imbalance” or other condition that renders them unable to control their actions once addiction takes hold. Obviously, my heart goes out to those people who are in the grip of addictions. However, the one argument I never hear concerns their and our participation—and sometimes determination—to become addicted to something or someone.

When you consider that smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or taking medications (whether legal or illegal) often requires dedication and sacrifice on the part of the participant, some of the blame for addictions have to shift. This is not to say that the manufacturers are blameless. Not in the slightest. Nevertheless, when the buyer has to put in days, weeks or months of work in order to master the art, you can scarcely blame predisposition for what is practiced and thus made perfect. So, to me, it would seem that the answer to this social malady is found in three simple words. Just say No. In other words, if you don’t start it, you won’t have to struggle to end it.

Smoking, for example, is not addictive from the first puff. Coughing is probably the more likely outcome. Yet, we persist in smoking for our own reasons until we become proficient…and by extension addicted. Yes, tobacco companies were allowed to add addictive drugs to their products, however, it took persistence (and money) on the part of the smoker to not only want to smoke but to learn how to do so in the first place.

More often than not, I find that people are often addicted to or obsessed with some person, some activity or some chemical that is inherently harmful to them. Occasionally, you find someone addicted to cleaning, caretaking or some other less socially unacceptable habit. However, in the vast majority of cases, it seems as though we are not so much addicted to any one thing as we are addicted to destroying ourselves. Very, very rarely are we addicted to making positive changes in our lives or ridding ourselves of the baggage—chemical or otherwise—that has been holding us back and limiting our opportunities.

Please don’t take this as an indictment of those facing addiction. It is not. What this is is an observation that all of the time and effort we spend in creating or feeding addictions could be better spent on something else. My hope is that, one day, we will become addicted to ourselves, not in a selfish way, but in a way that demonstrates our love and respect for our persons and all that entails: that we become obsessed with our own health nutrition, mental stability, emotional well-being and moral character; that we become obsessed with kindness and patience; that we become obsessed with fair treatment; and that we become less obsessed with the bottom line – money and power! Can anybody hear me?

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