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Is Addiction a Mental Illness?

Is addiction a mental illness?

No. Unless you consider the desire to escape is a mental illness. That is too harsh for someone who is not coping. At its heart, addiction is escapism.

You are not here because you are seeking help. There are plenty of organisations out there to help you with addiction of various types. Alcohol, narcotics, work, sex, porn, work are some examples. The list is endless.

You are here because you recognise that you may seek a little escapism. That in the background to wanting a career or lifestyle change it might get too much sometimes.

That's not a bad thing, until it is.

In my way of looking at the world, addiction or the desire to escape starts in your emotions. Let me explain. 

Thinking

Our thinking, our clear thinking, is what we use to tell us about the world and ourselves. To our thinking, we are a third-person, we use thinking to understand.

Our actions are how we change the world, for good or for bad.

Feeling

Our emotions tell us about our reaction to something. It is this reaction that we seek to escape from.

When we reach for the bottle to "drown our sorrows" we are trying to suppress our emotional reaction. We are not trying to change the world. This is an important distinction.

The articles in this section address this issue of addiction and escapism. Again, it is not the world we are trying to escape, it is our reaction to it.

Is addiction a mental illness?

If we are in a situation we do not like, we can leave it. But if we cannot leave a situation then our emotional reaction to it becomes more important. To the extent that it manifests as disappointment or even despair.

It is from that which we we wish to escape. That trapped feeling, of being in a cage. Feeling is emotional reaction.

They are powerful things, emotions, because they shine a light on us in ways that nothing else can. If we are open to them, we can learn a lot about ourselves. If we are not, we will bury them. This is the course of action of most men, which is why this section exists.

Emotional balance is mental health.