'Addiction' is a fine old English word meaning
commitment, dedication, devotion, inclination, bent, or
"Particular addictions may be good or bad.
are addicted to music, others to books, others to walks in
Some are addicted to a religious doctrine or
community, be it the Roman Catholic, the Mormon, or the Zen
Others are addicted to a political philosophy,
like liberalism, socialism, or anarchism, or to a 'cause',
like animal rights or free trade.
"Some people are addicted to another person:
their spouse, perhaps their latest flame.
addicted to a habit, like getting up early every morning.
Michelangelo was addicted to painting and sculpting,
Einstein was addicted to physics, Proust was addicted to
writing, Gandhi was addicted to independence for India.
Many others, of course, have been equally addicted to these
pursuits, but have lacked exceptional talent.
"Sometimes addictions fade gradually.
lover becomes the jaded husband, or the heavy drinker of
alcohol gradually moderates.
Other times, one addiction is
suddenly replaced by another:
the ardent lover of x
becomes the ardent lover of y, or the heavy drinker becomes
instead a born-again Christian.
Malcolm X relates how
converts to the Nation of Islam quickly abandoned any of
their former drug-taking habits.
"An addiction is not exactly the same as habit, though
one can be addicted to a habit.
John Stuart Mill refers to
'A man who causes grief to his family by addiction to bad
Addiction is a fondness for, or orientation
toward, some thing or activity, because it has meaning,
because it is considered valuable or even sacred.
cases, people may be addicted to something because they
find it enjoyable, and this, of course, also reflects their
such a person believes that the right way to live
is to seek enjoyment.
"Human life is always involved with addictions, and