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Addiction is a term that describes a complex phenomenon involving a person’s relationship with an object or activity that has rewarding effects, but also detrimental consequences. According to Harvard Health, addiction is about the struggle between acting on impulse and resisting that impulse.

Psychology Today defines addiction as a condition where a person uses a substance or engages in a behaviour for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeat the activity, despite harmful outcomes.

Addiction can affect the brain’s reward, reinforcement, motivation, and memory systems, and impair one’s control over usage, social functioning, and craving. It can involve substances such as alcohol, drugs, nicotine, or behaviours such as gambling, internet use, shopping, or work. It is a treatable condition that can be addressed by psychological interventions that aim to help the person stop or reduce the addictive behaviour and cope with the emotional, behavioural, interpersonal, and other problems arising from it.

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Signs of addiction

Addiction is a complex condition that affects a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. It is characterized by an inability to control or stop using a substance or engaging in a behaviour, despite harmful consequences. Some common signs include:

  • Craving the substance or behaviour intensely and obsessively
  • Neglecting other aspects of life, such as work, school, family, or hobbies
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the substance or engaging in the behaviour
  • Developing tolerance, which means needing more of the substance or behaviour to achieve the same effect
  • Having trouble quitting or cutting down, even when wanting to or trying to
  • Continuing to use the substance or engage in the behaviour despite negative impacts on health, relationships, finances, or legal status
  • Lying, hiding, or rationalizing the substance use or behaviour
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, or hopeless about the addiction
Consequences of addiction

Addiction is a chronic medical condition that affects the brain and the body. It is characterized by a loss of control over the use of a substance or a behaviour, despite the harmful consequences. It can also have serious negative effects on one’s physical health, mental wellbeing, relationships, finances, and overall quality of life.

Some of the physical consequences of addiction may include: heart disease, liver damage, HIV/AIDS, cancer, overdose, and death. Some of the mental and emotional consequences of addiction may include: anxiety, depression, aggression, hallucinations, cognitive impairment, and memory loss. There are also social and economic consequences of addiction which may include: job loss, divorce, legal problems, isolation, poverty, and debt.

Addiction is not a moral failing or a personal choice. It is a treatable disease that can be managed with professional help. There are many types of treatment available for people with addiction, such as medication, counselling, support groups, and rehabilitation programs. The best treatment option depends on the individual’s needs and preferences. The first step to recovery is to seek help, to admit that one has a problem with addiction.

Treatments for addiction

The most effective treatment for addiction depends on the type and severity of the substance use disorder, as well as the person’s needs and preferences. Some of the common treatments include:

  • Detoxification: This is the process of removing the substance from the body and managing the withdrawal symptoms. It can be done in a medical setting or at home, depending on the substance and the risk of complications. It is not a treatment by itself, but a necessary first step before engaging in other therapies.
  • Medication: There are medications that can help with different aspects of addiction, such as reducing cravings, blocking the effects of the substance, or treating co-occurring mental health disorders. It can be used with behavioural therapies or as a maintenance treatment for some people.
  • Behavioural therapies: These are psychological interventions that aim to change the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that contribute to addiction. Behavioural therapies can help people develop coping skills, enhance motivation, prevent relapse, and address underlying issues. There are different types of behavioural therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), contingency management, motivational interviewing, and 12-step programs.
  • Residential or inpatient treatment: This is a type of treatment that involves staying at a specialized facility for a period of time, usually from a few weeks to several months. This treatment provides a structured and supportive environment where people can receive intensive and comprehensive care. It may be suitable for people who have severe addiction, co-occurring disorders, or lack of social support.
  • Outpatient treatment: This is a type of treatment that involves attending regular sessions at a clinic or a community centre while living at home. Outpatient treatment can vary in intensity and duration, depending on the person’s needs and progress. It may be suitable for people who have mild to moderate addiction, stable living conditions, or other responsibilities.

These are some of the main treatments available for addiction, but there may be other options depending on the individual situation. The best way to find out what treatment is appropriate for oneself or a loved one is to consult a qualified professional who can assess the condition and provide guidance and referrals.

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Addiction as a trigger for transcendence

How can addiction trigger transcendence? This is a complex question that has no simple answer. Addiction is a state of consciousness that involves a compulsive and habitual attachment to a substance or behaviour that provides a temporary relief from suffering, but also causes negative consequences in the long term. Transcendence is a state of consciousness that involves an expansion and liberation of awareness, sometimes accompanied by visionary or mystical experiences. Addiction and transcendence seem to be opposite poles of human experience, yet they may also be related in some ways.

One possible way that addiction can trigger transcendence is by creating an existential crisis or a breakdown that forces the person to confront their inner pain and seek a higher meaning or purpose in life. This may happen when the person hits rock bottom and realizes that their addiction is destroying their health, relationships, and happiness. They may then turn to spirituality, therapy, or recovery programs to find healing and hope. Some people may also have spiritual awakenings or insights during withdrawal or detoxification, as their body and mind adjust to the absence of the addictive substance or behaviour.

Transcendence effects of substances

Another possible way that addiction can trigger transcendence is by stimulating the brain’s reward system and altering the perception of reality. Some addictive substances or behaviours, such as psychedelics, meditation, or sex, can produce altered states of consciousness that resemble transcendence in some aspects.

They can induce feelings of bliss, unity, ecstasy, or enlightenment, as well as visions, insights, or revelations. However, these experiences are not necessarily genuine or lasting forms of transcendence, as they depend on external factors and may fade away quickly. They may also become sources of attachment and craving themselves, leading to further addiction and suffering.

Therefore, addiction and transcendence are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they are also not equivalent or interchangeable. Addiction can trigger transcendence in some cases, but it can also prevent or distort it in others. Transcendence can help overcome addiction in some cases, but it can also be misused or misunderstood in others.

The key difference between addiction and transcendence is the quality of consciousness and the direction of growth. Addiction is a contracted and limited state of consciousness that seeks satisfaction in the external world, while transcendence is an expanded and unlimited state of consciousness that seeks liberation from the internal world.

Evidence for addiction-driven transcendence

There is a growing body of literature that examines the relationship between transcendence and addiction from different perspectives and disciplines. Some of the topics that are discussed include: the neurobiology and psychology of transcendence and addiction; the role of culture and religion in shaping transcendence and addiction; the ethical and moral implications of transcendence and addiction; and the therapeutic and preventive interventions for transcendence and addiction.

Transcendence therapies for addiction

Transcendence therapies are a type of addiction treatment that involves spirituality and a connection with a higher power. These therapies can help people overcome addiction by providing them with support, strength, and meaning. Transcendence therapies can include devotional activities, meditation, yoga, and other practices that foster mindfulness and self-regulation. Research has shown that transcendence therapies can improve the outcomes of addiction recovery and reduce the risk of relapse. Transcendence therapies can also help people heal from trauma and achieve their long-term goals.

Further reading

For further information on the relationship between transcendence and addiction, see the following links:


spirituality and Addiction: Healing with Transcendence –

A Hero’s Journey: Becoming and Transcendence in Addiction Recovery –

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