Addiction Redefined. An amazing approach to a serious social problem

Addiction Redefined. An amazing approach to a serious social problem

Vasant Agarwal

Director,Life is Positive


“Whether we accept it or not, almost everyone is an addict, from the mild to the severe, of some persuasion or another, to some degree or another, for some reason or another and with some consequence or another. This is not only a fact of life, but the inconvenient truth”. 

Are Rehabs really working?

The soul searching question is, why is incarceration and strict discipline in rehab centres and prescription medication not working? If it is, why is the relapse rate so alarming worldwide? This is because when a student is consistently failing, either the tutor or the tuition, or both are failing; and some other form of instruction has to be instituted. Incarceration, punishment or deprivation of desired privileges is not the answer; and prescription drugs do not work. It is my belief that motivation, inspiration, self -empowerment and self-realisation, along with clinical guidance are the new paradigm.

My Story

My enigmatic story traverses continents, from India to America. My country of birth, and the nation where I was destined to live and work were very different, culturally and otherwise. When I reached America in the ’70’s, it was an amazing experience. The Vietnam war was on and the flower generation was in full bloom.

What a metamorphosis! Everything was blowing my mind. It was long ago and I recall working very hard to earn a merit scholarship at U.C.L.A. Subsequently, I earned and lived what could be called a good life, even by the best of American standards.

I was proud of what I had achieved but somewhere along the lines I got careless and became a “functional” alcoholic, like many of us. When I returned to India, my family was in the U.S. I was lonely, and soon things were heading in the wrong direction. One day, I slipped and fell, and fractured my hip. My family rushed to my bedside, surmised the reason why, and insisted I check into a rehab centre, much against my wishes.

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The soul searching that followed was during my recovery at this unique rehab centre, which had a holistic approach to the problem. A reprogramming of the mind, body and soul if you will. This then became the inspiration to write a book to help those who had felt the same loss of love and trust my family and I did along my journey.

What really is Addiction?

 Much has already been written on the vices of addiction, but at its core, it remains an escape route for anyone looking for a way out of reality because of a total lack of self esteem. Historically, the term “Addiction” has been used to refer to psychoactive substances that cross the blood-brain barrier, temporarily altering the chemical balance of the brain. Today, this definition no longer holds true. It is now defined not by the substance or habit, but by the resulting psychological dependency. This can lead to guilt, shame, hopelessness, despair, failure, rejection, anxiety and depression. I did not know that alcohol is the only legal drug formulated for self destruction.

Metaphorically speaking, ‘addiction is fission where the elements of life are separated to produce negative energy. Abstinence is fusion where the particles coalesce to generate positive energy. And honesty is the critical mass in this crucible of life’.

This leads us to the true definition of addiction; no, not the one in the dictionary, but the one in human terms. About what it has done and will do to one’s health, careers, finances and relationships and the collateral damage caused. It is no longer defined by the substance but rather the psychological dependency on a substance, be it gambling, internet, work, exercise, or even love, are all counted as addictions, because they can also lead to feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness, despair, failure, rejection, anxiety and/or humiliation. And the immense harm done to friends and family.

My Book about Addiction

 While most text and novels on the subject deal with the dark side of addiction, my book, “The Accidental Addict and The Power of Positive Thinking” is a motivational and inspirational guide, with solutions that are possible, practical and lead to the desired outcome. There are worksheets and a detailed discussion on each aspect of addiction. A must read for anyone seeking or wishing to give help to someone in despair. Although the main focus is on drugs and alcoholism, the contents apply to most kinds of addiction.
Further, I suggest that addiction should be elevated to the same level of importance as hunger, poverty and other diseases. Please assist me in a concerted social effort to establish a sustainable education and awareness campaign going forward, with telemedicine and digital learning platforms as support. This should be across the social fabric, be it in education, or HR, CSR, NGO’s, State and Central Governments, and philanthropic organisations, with the help of print and social media.                      .

“The Accidental Addict and The Power of Positive Thinking”,  now available on and

Currently under editorial review at Penguin Random House.  

The excerpt of the book is available on

Please share it with friends and colleagues, and help me in this urgent social awareness call for action. Together, if we can save even one soul, it will be worth it.




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