The Vice and Virtue of Addiction

By Professor DeRose

The entire Western culture is based on the dichotomy vice and virtue . In this sense, addiction is the antithesis of reason and carries a sense of defect, negative quality, imperfection, disposition to do evil.

Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are full of examples and parables that seek to instill the notion that addiction is punished and virtue rewarded.

However, in the ordinary sense of colloquial language, addiction is defined as the dependency generated by the use of drugs (nicotine, caffeine, theine, theobromine, guaranine, adrenaline, alcohol, cocaine, etc.).

Most of these drugs are presumed innocent and are, therefore, legal and socially acceptable. However, despite being legal these drugs are still potentially harmful, creating physical and psychological dependencies. Many of them alter our senses, capable of endangering the life of the user and others.

When referring to addiction and drugs, we are commonly referring to illegal substances, or at least, alcohol and tobacco. Rarely do we consider coffee as a drug. Nevertheless, one of the first things the doctor asks during a consultation is how much coffee a patient is drinking per day.

Whether referring to the first or second meaning of the term addiction, the most efficient way to combat it is educating people at a young age. A forty year old, or older, person will not likely accept the advice to stop smoking, drinking or using drugs, unless there is a very strong motivation, like the diagnosis of a serious illness. Even then, most people will not change their lifestyle choices.

For over fifty years I have worked with behavioral re-education and quality of life. In my experience, the investment of work and energy needed to try to detoxify and heal a drug user is about one hundred times greater than the work and energy needed to prevent a person from adopting habits like smoking, drinking or drugs. And, the odds of success follow the same proportion.

Thus, we can help a hundred times more people if we do the prevention work. It's the same thing with crime. It would cost the state much less to invest in education for prevention than to sustain an entire law enforcement and judicial system to process, hold and maintain the overcrowded prisons. If the policy remains "punish later" instead of "educate before", we will never see significant drops in drug use and crime.

It just so happens that humans become very easily addicted, and not only to substances. They become addicted to gambling, extreme sports, fishing, collecting things, sex, religion, chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, soap operas, TV series, making money, losing money... people can become addicted to anything.

So, understanding this characteristic of Homo sapiens, for over half a century in my profession, I’ve worked to make people "addicted" to not acquiring vices. It is a matter of conditioning, education, and establishing the habits lead to health and quality of life. When we provide a healthy environment and enlightening educational opportunities, most people tend to incorporate the habit of cultivating health, quality of life, good human relations, and productivity like they would a sport. Social and environmental responsibility becomes a matter of honor. People would have less time or interest in the addictions that destroy their bodies and minds.

The DeRose Method offers a place and social environment where healthy habits are the norm. We teach about the importance of carrying valuable life lessons into the different areas of your life, family, friendships, work, recreation, etc. In order to make the world a better place to live, we need to invest in becoming the best version of ourselves. These good habits then rub off on our family, friends and colleagues. When one person’s life changes for the better we are creating shock waves that reverberate throughout society and can transform the world.