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February 26, 2014

Where does addiction come from? ~ Jesse Herriot

Yoga for Depression by Simone Aguilera Romig

Dark Urges

We’re all getting older by the second…

If we give heed to that curiosity that comes about periodically, there are questions that just don’t sit well with us.

If we don’t like the way our life is going, three special tools—intuition, will, and choice—can help us do the serious work. From what I’ve experienced, real work in life requires us to use those tools to help us walk a path that has been pre-cut for us. We can also cut through the thick forest of confusion to create another dimly-lit path that’s our own. However, we do have the option of making those two choices intersect at various points in our lives.

Like many families, there are those in my life that have struggled with addiction. According to Leo Tolstoy,

“families are all alike because every unhappy family is unhappy in their own way.”

It may seem heretical, but I’ve seen people in my personal life struggle with a cycle of addiction, recovery, and relapse for so long that it feels like this is a role they were destined to play in life. It doesn’t make them any less of a person, of course. There are some who I’ve encountered who have been addicts twice as long as I’ve been born, and they have outlived those who were considered “healthy.” So are they graced by God to be an “addict?” If you have any religious sensibility in the world, that question is enough for you to take your personal God—encounter to court—especially if your life has been affected by the decisions they made to “dance with their addiction.”

So the big question would be, “Where do these dark urges come from? What part of the soul desires crack, pure cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and all of the thrills and ills that come from codeine pills? I remember when I was 16, and my stepfather went into a seizure on our living room floor. And this seizure was the worst kind; he embarrassed himself in every way, in front of his step-children, his wife (my mother), and his recently transitioned mother’s house—which we were living in at the time. In the house that he grew up in, he basically had a biological meltdown, defecating all over himself and convulsing uncontrollably. Despite the issues that my brothers and I had with him, I don’t believe any decent human being could watch someone suffer agony like that and not feel something. And in hindsight, if any of us had an addiction and was suffering greatly for it, where’s the first place that we would go if our pleasure trip quickly became painful—home.

Over a decade later, I understand why he returned home—as opposed to overdosing somewhere where people who didn’t care for him may have passed by him, letting him die. And many people can’t identify with what we call the “big” dark urges, but we all have habits of sorts that could be classified as “taboo” or unhealthy—so we keep them in the dark as they say. It’s been a long time since that moment, and I have my own family now, and a daughter. I often wonder what drove him to that point—to put enough of that drug into his system to kill three people according to the doctor. What was he searching for, and what are we all searching for to be honest? Are we searching to be accepted, or perhaps to just feel good? I think Bentham was right that it’s very human of us, (as if we could be anything else), to want to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. But the question is, at what cost do we embrace “that” pleasure? Out of all of the pleasurable things in the world, why is it that some of us embrace the things we do, understanding what those results could yield? Why do we roll the dice when the stakes are too high? Not even my stepfather could answer those questions for me, and I wouldn’t do him the dishonor of snatching him out of his life to make him face such a horrific part of his past. We are all human and we deserve to be treated with decency and care. But, that still does not lead me anywhere close to answering the question of where do those dark urges come from.

As someone that works in the spiritual arena, my only guess is that we are looking for something to take us away from the mundane and lift us up out of “the ordinary.” Our real job is to find a way to do it that doesn’t cost us everything we’ve worked so hard to obtain—in the world of the mundane. We don’t have to have this conversation with other people, because it may be too personal. But we should always keep an open dialogue with ourselves.

If we can learn more about ourselves, I think we can catch, balance, and curve those inner urges before they go dark and bottomless.

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Jesse Herriott

Jesse Herriott is a Writer, Teacher, & Spiritual Researcher whose work explores the relationship of the human experience with experiences of the transcendent. He is an ordained priest and classically trained “Teacher” with graduate training in both the Social Sciences and Humanities. And he lectures frequently within churches, spiritual centers, and career colleges throughout the state of Georgia. He’s also a frequent contributor to unity.org, elephant journal magazine, and a host of other online publications. His radio show “Living on Purpose” is archived on Unity Online Radio at: unity.fm/program/livingonpurpose and his website is jessherriott.com