Addiction and Illness


PureInsight | May 19, 2015


Let’s start our talk from the Chinese character which means “addiction”.

The structure of this character “addiction” is composed of a radical meaning “illness” and a character meaning “conceal”. In fact, its meaning refers to bad habits that one is deeply attached to; it also refers to some special interest and fondness for a certain thing.

In regards to the composition of this character, the meaning of the radical “illness” is precisely synonymous with disease. In the structure of Chinese characters, this radical is commonly used for any character indicating illness. The character “conceal” indicates something that is hidden and not obvious. In other words, addiction is actually a kind of disease - a disease that is hidden.

Why is it a hidden disease? It is because during the initial stage people’s addictions (such as addictions to tobacco or alcohol, etc.) won’t directly bring pathological changes and physical discomfort to people in the same way diseases do. But as time passes, as the addiction grows ever stronger, the harm it brings to people can even exceed those common diseases. Take addiction to drugs as an example. It can not only cause multiple diseases to the drug users, but can also cause danger to their life. The addictions to tobacco and alcohol are the same.

When talking about addiction in the context of it as being a hidden disease, another facet is that people all know physiological diseases are not good, and would take various measures to resolve them once falling ill. Meanwhile, addictions can be subtle and can gradually take control of people by making them comfortable, and are thus hard to break away from. This disease is even more troublesome to people. Thus it can be said that addiction is not only is a hidden disease, but also a “treacherous” disease. Therefore when we speak of addiction, we are actually talking about a disease.

Actually, common addictions such as the addiction to video games, etc. are not good for people, because they waste our time, dilute the meaning of life, and delay us from doing those things that are more worthwhile to our lives. Therefore, as long as something is an addiction, it should be removed.

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