Reciprocal narrowing and opening
Excellent insight into addiction. I'll have to read it again because it often takes me longer than others to process complex information. I'm currently reading two of C. Jung’s essays on analytical psychology and must read each page twice, sometimes thrice. Worth it.
I recently hit five years clean and can relate to everything you said. I'm a new subscriber and look forward to rifling through the archive and forthcoming posts. I love your work.
I just started my newsletter here, and it’s been a rocky start, mostly incomplete thoughts. You might enjoy my first post. It’s about my early sobriety and discovering misconceptions of selfhood.
Check it—or don't. My feelings won't be hurt.
Love the systems thinking / parasitic view. Very useful. Changing plans for 2023 holidays now. Heading to super dope rat theme park instead. Thanks Alex!
Beautiful piece. Thank you! It feels like *agency* bit is crucial in that graph -- it takes a lot of courage to break out of the continuous addiction reinforcement loop, especially when the systems are engineered to only loop you in. For example, TikTok was heavily engineered to keep users in the app for their monetary/engagement sakes and here a user often doesn't even feel like they have an agency to change it (a user cannot even change the topics of tiktoks he is shown so his available actions to stop the addiction are completely cutting off TikTok which requires a heavy load of self-determination and control).
Awesome piece and so much truth in it. As a substance abuse counselor who’s also been sober 15 years, it’s easy to teach about triggers, cravings, etc. It’s not so easy to help people address the psychosocial challenges that are at the root of addiction.
I'm new to substack and this is the 1st piece of your work that I've read and I bloody loved it. As the daughter of an alcoholic and gambler, I've had an interest in addition psychology and this piece was brilliant!
Gah so helpful and ....smoothing out the bumps in all these processes/ worlds.
Great work Alex!
Great article, you excellently summarized many of the different facets and perspectives on addiction. I like the Vietnam case study as it shows there is a relationship between addiction and one's environment. I would check out the Rat Park experiment, as it shows the same insight in an animal. Biology does account some component of addiction with differences seen in neural pathways between those have addictions vs don't. I think it's less of a factor than the person's sense of meaning, environment, social relationships, trauma, and stress levels. I think if we find a way to tackle these factors clinically then relapse rates will be much lower than those of the current offerings.
Incredible stuff. As a former person severely addicted to cocaine and alcohol, now turned counsellor, it is always a beautiful thing to see this pivot from individual lack of will, to a societal, multi-faceted approach to healing.
Looking forward to following your journey down this path, and to see the intersections where my research takes me. 🙏
This is my favorite piece you've ever written. Well done!
Love Johann Hari’s stuff. All of it.
“If there’s one thing in common across all process-oriented recovery programs from the 12 Steps to Buddhist based to more modern versions—it’s community. Those prone to addiction are sensitive beings who often feel an acute sense of outsider-ness and alienation from the culture. Recovery requires truth, love, and a warm welcome that tells a newcomer’s nervous system: you’re right where you need to be.”
Boom. Absolutely. A hundred percent 💯. I’m 12.5 years sober. Nailed it. I write about this on my stack: https://michaelmohr.substack.com/p/sobriety-and-wokeism-are-diametrically
‘Sincere American Writing’