Sunday we had a someone from LDS Social Services speak to us about their twelve point addiction recovery program (They call it ARP). Most of the sessions involve recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. The next highest number of sessions currently available deals with pornography and sexual addictions. The least number (and let's face it, the one that should have the most number of sessions, at least, in my area of the world) deals with eating and over-eating addictions.
Last week I viewed the new film, "Happy Valley" which deals with the drug addiction problem in Utah Valley--the "Happy Valley" of the title. After both of these presentations I couldn't help but ask myself, "Why is addiction to self-destructive behaviors such a problem in our society?"
In his wonderful book, "The Free Market and Its Enemy", Leonard Read states, without any proof, that it is his conviction that anyone living completely in the free market will not descend into that market and "vote against himself." I agree, which says that few of us, no matter how much we believe ourselves to be operating in the free market, are actually doing so, because most of us go into the what we view as the free market and "vote against ourselves". Mr. Read himself, according to his biographer, Mary Sennholz, went into the free market every day and bought exactly 18 cigarettes--his daily ration of self-destructive votes. The very fact that he so scrupulously limited himself to exactly 18 must have been an indication to him that there was a problem, unless by an interesting bit of logic or evidence, he actually believed that smoking 18 cigarettes was beneficial but with the 19th they suddenly become destructive. In one of his books he tells how annoyed he was at a FEE board of directors meeting when the director sitting next to him chided him for drinking coffee. (I have always wondered if the director in question was Ezra Taft Benson--I can't imagine anyone else on the board of directors who would care). But the very fact that he took umbrage must have been an indicator to him that he really somehow felt that he was "voting against himself". If for example they had chided him for drinking orange juice, I think he would have merely responded, "I like orange juice and believe furthermore, that it does me good."
My own conviction is that the depth of our addictions is also, in a sense, the measure of the depth of our enslavement. We are told that the people of the communist countries had a horrible problem with alcohol--a problem that apparently no amount of rules, laws, or strict enforcement could alter.