Amongst certain segments of society, there is this general notion that addictions are immoral and should be avoided like the plague. There are those who deem addictions immoral for religious reason, for political reason, or even for personal reason. Whatever the reason, it nevertheless seems odd to moralize addiction; such a moral view is equivalent to the hypothesis that trees commit sin when they sprout green leaves. Addiction is a continuum to be found in every dimension of life, and this is not by chance. To deem an addict as immoral because of their addiction is to deem all humans as immoral, for we are all addicted.
We consume drugs to get high. Drugs allow us to experience reality differently; be it, a reality free from some form of trauma or a reality so strange that we are vexed by its absurdity, producing an addiction that opposes the normalcy of veridical perception. Whether it be the creative or therapeutic qualities associated with a particular high, we take drugs to get high.
So, if the central motivation for drug consumption is to experience reality differently, so to avoid stress or invoke absurd perceptions, then we are all drug addicts to some extent.
When reading a good book, your mind wanders into a new reality; a reality where in which the physical limitations of the body have little sway on your exploration. A book is a hallucinogenic drug.
With every waking moment, our brains, somehow, achieve quite the astonishing feat: namely, represent that oh-so nebulous thing called reality. When the brain represents reality, it has the benefit of doing so from a position of knowledge; and so, upon certain foundations of knowledge, it can rely on. Therefore, the brain can predict the nature of the information that travels in through the sensory organs, for it has experiences to call upon. It thusly follows that, when under the influence of literature, we are altering our perceptions of the nebulous: reality. That is, a book alters the foundations from which one stands upon whilst surveying the immediate landscape; a change in view leads to a change in representation.
Suppose you had ventured, on horseback: by automobile, to the gym last Wednesday; and at the gym, you had noticed how healthy everyone was. This representation of the gym is a-typical, it reflects an understanding of the gym in the same way a marketer would understand the gym.
Now suppose you and your steed go back to the gym after reading a book on evolutionary psychology. Out of nowhere, the gym is a watering-hole full of alpha males and females all attempting to display the quality of their genes; only in hopes of convincing someone that their genes are premium genes for offspring.
In that second instance, it is as if you stepped into a whole new reality; you’ll begin to think about people differently, treat people differently, and even view life differently. So it follows, a book, to some extent, is a hallucinogenic drug.
Consider, moreover, coffee, the general publics favourite mind-altering substance. When we consume coffee in the morning, we do so with the intention to alter our mental state. We are so utterly addicted to the mental alteration which coffee produces that millions of people choose to sit in lengthy lines every morning before they go to work just to get high; and sometimes, people will choose to be late rather than miss their daily-morning coffee high.
Even furthermore, like potheads passing around a fat one, coffee addicts pass around coffees in the office; all while joking about how addicted they are, “cannot start the day without a cup of joe,”, “I might have hurt someone if you did not get me this coffee”.
By now, it seems almost needless to say, though our addictions are plentiful; some of us are addicted to the gym; some of us are addicted to balanced lifestyles; some of us are addicted to success. So, before you pass moral judgment onto someone with an addiction, be wary of the fact that addiction is human nature: we are all addicted.