Addiction takes several forms. We commonly accept alcohol, smoking, drug addiction.
Other forms like addiction to social media, caffeine, food are being more accepted nowadays.
For a long time we have been told that addiction is related to brain chemicals.
We have also been told that addiction is due to addictive substances themselves. For example, alcohol is an addictive substance.
What we have been told is true. But this is just one part of the story.
Start of addiction is closely related to set and setting when a substance is used.
Setting - the environment where an addictive substance is taken.
Consider as an example - drinking alcohol.
First setting is - you are with friends at a party. You drink to loosen up, lighten up, you want to socialize. The effect is you feel good.
Second setting is - you are alone at home. You are feeling lonely, have nothing useful to do and you drink.
In both these settings, the substance is the same, its alcohol. But the effect that it creates is quite different.
Set - means mindset with which an addictive substance is taken.
Consider as an example - heroin.
First mindset is - you are with friends at a party destination. You try heroin. It feels good. You try again the next day..the next day. You do this for a month. Very likely that after a month of heroin use, you would have become an addict.
Second mindset is - you meet with an accident. You have many injuries, you are in a lot of pain, you are admitted to hospital. Doctors give you a painkiller called diamorphine. You are in hospital for one month and you are taking diamorphine every day. Now, Diamorphin is actually heroin. It's just a different name. After one month when you come out of hospital, do you come out as a heroin addict? No.
In both these examples, the substance is the same. With the first mindset you become an addict and with the second mindset you don't.
So the point here is, addiction is not just about the substance. It is also about the set and settings and other factors.
At its root, addiction stems from lack of meaning. We have been told that addiction is about pleasure. This is often true, however, in most cases, addictions are associated with health issues. Often the pleasure that the addict used to get in the initial days of addiction is gone. Most of the time the addict knows that the addiction is doing harm but still cannot quit.
Once the addiction becomes a habit, it's hard to stop.
Once the addiction becomes part of that person's identity, it's still harder to stop.
During our meditation, there is a stage of disconnection. In this stage, if you want to overcome an addiction, then you need to disconnect from this addiction identity.