Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong (According to Johann Hari)

What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear the word addict?

“Why can’t they just stop?  All addicts are a lost cause.  Rehab doesn’t help.  They don’t take responsibility for themselves.  Anything I do to help them just enables them to keep going back to their addiction.”

Let’s take that a step further – what about a sex and love addict?

“There must be something wrong with them.  They’re a danger to my children.  They’re dirty, perverted, immoral, disgusting, or (fill-in-the-blank with the derogatory term of your choice).”

When we look at these cruel stereotypes, the conclusion made by many is to avoid those who struggle with addiction, or heap shame on them for their behaviors.  Even worse, if you are an addict, you may believe these words to be true of yourself, which can add fuel to the fire of loneliness and shame that feeds the addictive cycle.

Here’s the problem with these beliefs: in many ways, they only cause the individual who struggles with addiction to withdraw and become more isolated from resources that can help.

In the Ted Talk below, Johann Hari speaks about research that turns our view of addiction upside down.  He connects the human need to connect as a motivating factor both in addiction and in recovery and treatment.  He states:

“Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond. When we’re happy and healthy, we bond and connect with each other. But if you can’t do that because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief.”

Sex and love addiction works in much the same way.  Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in the field of sex and love addiction, categorizes addiction as an intimacy disorder.  In effect, sex and love addiction is both caused by and perpetuates experiences of isolation, loneliness, and poor experiences in relationships.  The addiction itself creates more isolation, and shaming words or beliefs about the addict can make freedom or recovery feel impossible.

“A core part of addiction…is not being able to bear to be present in your own life.”

Whether you struggle with addiction yourself, or you know someone else who does, take some time to watch the video below and hear more about how we might approach treating addiction differently.


“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety.  The opposite of addiction is connection.”


My goal at Restored Hope is to a give you a space where you can come at any stage in your struggles with sex and love addiction and find that you are not alone and there is help for you.  I offer individual therapy and group recovery work that can help you on your personal journey.  Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here today to talk and hear how I can help.