On the Nature of Addiction and the Loss of Hope

Guest post by David Chapman

The normal state of a productive and happy human existence includes a sense of hope. Dave Chapman block golf shirtThe  nature of addiction exhausts all sense of hope. The sense of hope is based on the understanding that the process of productive effort usually results in some observable, measurable improvement in the quality of one’s life and the lives of those important to the individual. The nature of having an addiction means the loss of this hope.

“I will restore my own sense of hope. I know if I exert control over my environment and my actions I will regain control of my life and I will have reason to be hopeful once more.”

If I chop some large amount of dry wood and keep it dry, my family and I will be warmed throughout the winter, our ability to survive the winter and the possibility of our thriving in the spring will be augmented. The hope of minimizing suffering, increasing comfort and sustaining enhancements in the quality of our lives is significantly based on the belief that the productive effort is worthwhile and that similar efforts in the future will also be worthwhile. 

The act of putting rational expectation – hope – into productive effort is based initially on trial and error. As demonstrated by observation and experience, it is then continued in the manner found to be most efficient.

I contend that addiction is more than chemical dependence. It is significantly, I believe, fueled by a sense of hopelessness resulting from the brutalization of our rational, reasonable expectations.

Children who are raised in emotionally-irrational or physically-violent households have their natural sense of hope altered and sometimes, sadly, destroyed altogether. Hope is similarly damaged in an adult body politic where effort goes unrewarded beyond a level of primitive sustenance and/or when participation in the political process is deemed to be futile and ineffective.

When we attempt to adjust our behavior to what we think are the demands or desires of those exerting control of our physical and intellectual environment, but those irrational behaviors continue, the ensuing sense of hopelessness – hopelessness based on rational observation – will continue and can threaten to become permanent.

The addicted personality may be able to overcome a physical addiction. However, until a sense of rational hopefulness is restored and we can believe that our thoughts and actions will have a beneficial impact on our lives, the spiritual addiction will probably not be overcome.

Dave Chapman is our guest blogger this week. Dave was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in the suburban town of Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He has been a shoeshine boy, a moving man, a golf caddy, a limousine driver, a truck driver, worked retail at The Home Depot, a life insurance agent, a stock broker and financial advisor. He studied the humanities and comparative literature at Ohio Wesleyan University. In addition to his motivational speaking and John Maxwell coaching affiliation, Dave is a freelance writer and teaches several classes in the Humanities as an Adjunct Professor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Rutgers University. He can be contacted by email at: davechapman@wellsaiddave.com

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