Connection is the Cause and the Cure
The cause of (and cure of) addiction goes much deeper than simply problems you have with a subtractive habit or activity. The real reason people form addictions is that they lack connection in some other area of their life. This could be a lack of connection in your career, with your significant other, with family, with God or spirituality, and the list goes on. Fortunately, the best cure for addiction is to build connections in your lives.
In this week’s episode, Russ was inspired by Johann Hari’s Ted Talk on the subject and breaks down this idea that connection is the cause and the cure for addiction. Watch below:
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Each week we release an Action Guide filled with relevant exercises from the latest Russ Perry Show episode to help you expand your sobriety across all core areas of your life: body, being, balance, and business.
This week’s Action Guide will have you analyze the connections in your life and formulate a plan of action to build connections in your life where you’re suffering from a lack of connection.
BONUS: No need to take notes – we transcribed the episode for you!
– Hey, everyone. Welcome to episode number 24 of The Russ Perry Show, where we dive in every single week, talking about the conversations surrounding sobriety and success. I’m extremely excited for today’s episode because, well, I’m into a new book, so of course, I have a bunch of new ideas, a bunch of new concepts, and today, we’re gonna be talking about this very, very, very vague but incredibly important thing in our life, which is called connection.
So sit back. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this episode of The Russ Perry Show.
[Intro] There’s a new way of living to give you the unfair advantage in all areas of life, body, being, balance, and business. Follow my journey each week and learn firsthand why sober equals success. Welcome to The Russ Perry Show.
So as I look back in my career of being sober, which I do call it a career, cause it’s like a job, you know, you really gotta put a lot of time and energy and thought into that and the decisions why you don’t succumb to the pressures of society. I think back to when I made the decision to become sober and thankfully, for me, this was a decision that I was able to make and now stick with for going on four years, or four plus years.
But I never really understood why this could be so easy for some, which I do consider myself lucky because it was a decision that I haven’t necessarily struggled with as a result, as well as why some other people have such a hard time either committing to get sober or remaining sober.
And it wasn’t until this past week and I watched a Ted Talk by Johann Hari, Johann Hari, it’s actually a guy, I think he’s, like, a British guy. And he wrote this book, Chasing the Screen, and he did a Ted Talk, which I was able to watch this week, I got his book, I’m just starting to read the book, where he really looked at this larger conversation around connection as it pertains to addiction. And it was eye-opening for me and I highly recommend you go check it out.
It’s a Ted Talk, Johann, I’ll write it on the board here, which we’ll pull up in a little bit. You don’t have to pull it up right now. Johann Hari. And what he discovered over the course of three years was how important connection is in the human world, but also how connection or lack thereof drives addictive behavior and perpetuates addiction.
And so when I cycle back to when I made the decision to get sober in 2013, I definitely did so on top of this belief that look, if I didn’t get sober, then the connection that I was rebuilding with my wife would either crumble or cap out at a certain level and the only way for me to get deeper in that connection was for me to get sober.
And so it’s so funny and it’s so eye-opening because I’ve thought about this a lot over the years. I was like, you know what, I almost felt guilt at times talking to people, cause they asked, “Well, Russ, don’t you ever crave it? “I mean, how hard is it to stay sober?” And I’m just like, guys, honestly, it’s not hard at all for me. It’s not even a question in my mind. It’s not a temptation. I don’t think about it. I’m not pulled toward or drawn towards it.
And after reading Johann’s book, or sorry, watching the Ted Talk, I haven’t read the book yet, I will, I realized the reason for that is because I had so much new connection in my life with my family, with my wife, with my kids, with my team members, with my clients, I have all this connection built up now that I value and has been built on top of this sober life.
And so when I look at the choice or option to drink again, it’s just a do-not-compute type of equation for me because I can see the risk or the potential loss of all this connection. And in his book, Johann talks about how we choose to live relatively healthy lives when we have connections, and the opposite is true when we lack the connection when we lack connection with others.
This is when we seek out connection in some form, whether that is substance, pornography, pouring harder into work, or an affair, or whatever the connection might be. So coming back, I was like, this is an a-ha moment. I gotta talk about this on The Russ Perry Show. But of course, in true Russ Perry fashion, we’re not gonna do a very staged, rehearsed Ted Talk, or I’m not gonna talk to you and lecture you for two hours. I just wanted to kind of hit a highlight reel of this importance of connection.
So, I look at this concept of connection as a bucket. And this bucket is, you know, the bucket of I’d say happiness or even satisfaction. Cause actually, yeah, I’m gonna cross out happiness here. Because when we are satisfied and we’re fulfilled or we are filled, we don’t necessarily feel the need to go out and seek that in which could potentially fulfill us.
And so I thought about this concept of connection and I also thought about this concept of ourselves and others and how all of these things kind of interplay.
And so the way I was interpreting this is if we imagine our bucket of fulfillment kind of having two parts to it, there is the part that we can fill that’s about, I don’t know, say halfway up and this part here, we can easily fill on our own. We don’t need a wife, we don’t need a husband, we don’t need other people to fulfill this for us.
And this part, we can do through many constructive things. We can do this through a hobby, we can fill this part of the bucket through music, listening to it or writing or creation, and for many of this, this is where we live our lives. We have a ton of things that we participate in. For me, at times, it could be a video game, like, oh, I love it. I don’t feel connected but I just feel satisfied.
And I learned over time as I matured, as we’ve talked a lot about on the show, things like meditation and exercise and physical fitness, these pour into this bucket, this fulfillment bucket, this satisfaction bucket that we have. But over time, there becomes sort of a limit in which we can’t fill this bucket any higher. We can’t fill this bucket any higher. No amount of meditation, no amount of hiking outside by yourself, no amount of writing or making music or whatever it is that you do to kind of feel satisfied on your own, can get you beyond a certain point.
And so instead, we kind of are then left with this question. We know and we feel that hey, man, my bucket literally is still half empty or three-quarters empty. Like, I still know that I can add in so much more into my bucket here. So we then try to seek out something or someone to fill the rest of our bucket, to add on to this fulfillment feeling that we’ve been working on.
And for many of us, we do so through connection. So, classic example, dating. Significant other relationship. We want to share life. We want to have this other type of engagement with somebody else, and what we discover is that yes, this indeed does start to fill our bucket more.
Now, how full this bucket gets and what’s the proportions exactly, you know, this is not a super-scientific analogy, but it builds the foundation for why connection and deep connection helps prevent so many of us from falling into the habits of addiction. Point in case is substance abuse. Many of us choose not to wake up and get high every day, the majority of us do, not to say that doesn’t happen, because it would sacrifice the connections that we have with others.
And this is part of Johann’s argument is like, you don’t show up drunk because you would lose the connection at work, your significant other might not want to be around you anymore, you’d lose the connection with your kids, and so we choose not to do this. We value the connections over our addictions or our substances.
So this is fine and dandy when we have those support systems, but what happens, in particular, when we feel like there isn’t someone else to work through and to help fill this other bucket? There isn’t an external support network. There isn’t someone at home that we go home to or that we can call when we have a problem. We still have the bucket here that we know we want to fill, but there isn’t anyone that we at least believe that can be part of this equation, if you will, so that is when we try to fill it ourselves with more stuff.
And so we work out more. We get online. And, when those things don’t work, we get the substances or porn or whatever else. And we try to fill our bucket ourselves, but we can’t fill it anymore with some things that we know, so we start to go out and seek out these other things. And maybe, maybe, maybe this does fill the bucket for some time, but the problem is with these things, as I talk about in my book, The Sober Entrepreneur, is they’re subtractive. They don’t actually build.
So while we may experience this temporary false lift, there is a huge hole in our bucket that’s created by these negative forces and whatever positivity, whatever goodness we felt is soon gone and it leaks out. And so what do we do? We try to pour more into it. And we work more, we get more into porn, we do more, we drink more, we get more substances, we seek harder drugs or whatever it might be. And we get that lift, but yet again, because this hole is still here, these things don’t build or add to our lives in any positive manner, then it’s gone.
And this, my friends, is what I observed and have observed in so many people who struggle with addiction. They are lacking connection in their life in some area and they are trying to create the fulfillment and the satisfaction, or at least the removal of the pain that is existing in their life, they’re trying to add to that and create it themselves with whatever addictive habits that are plaguing them and confronting them.
Now, I’m running a private mastermind group right now, almost 100 men inside a group. I’ll be launching this publicly in the summertime here to another chapter of this and allowing other men to get inside of this, but we’re running a mastermind on the topic of sobriety right now and so many of the men are struggling with porn, but 100% of those men are struggling with connection on a romantic level with their wife or significant other or girlfriend, whatever it might be.
And so the porn is acting as a substitute for the temporary satisfaction, but in reality, it’s just a gap that’s being exposed. When I see porn addiction, I know immediately, lack of connection in other areas. When you see someone who’s been sexually abused, you see some evidence or past evidence of a very, very messed up part of their lives that’s messed up their interpretations of connection and they can’t be connected, or they were violated somehow with those connections, and so that is why they have the issues that they have.
And so this connection is both the causality or the lack of connection is the causality of many of our addictions, but it is also the solution. And this is the main point that I want you to leave today with, is that if you are struggling with some form of addiction, flip that out and instead of, look, I’m faced with addiction, take an inventory of your life and the areas that you can be connected to God, to a significant other, to your family, to kids, or whatever it might be, and try to pour more time and energy into building those connections.
Or if you finally have made a decision to get sober, realize the only way you’re going to remain sober, because as soon as you cut out this stuff from your life, there will be a gap, there will be emptiness in your bucket and so you must decide to fill this bucket with additive things like family, health, creation, production, and all of the things that add onto your life and fill this bucket with the connections that you’re making in these areas, from your family, from being engaged in the community, helping others.
So thank you for joining me today. I highly recommend you check out the Ted Talk by Johann Hari, I hope I’m pronouncing that right, I probably should’ve looked that up. Just Google “addiction connection Ted Talk,” it’ll get you the video, it’s 15 minutes. It’s a fantastic, fantastic view.
And if you’re more interested, not more interested, great grammar, Russ, if you’re interested in learning more about my own journey on how I decided to seek out deeper connection and why sobriety enabled me to do that, I highly, highly recommend you get my book, The Sober Entrepreneur. You can check it out, soberentrepreneur.com. You can purchase it for free there.
Also, recently, I added back the free chapter on my website, so if you just go to russperry.co, not only are you gonna see past episodes of this show, you can put in your email and you get a free chapter of the book, The Sober Entrepreneur.
So if getting the book is too much of a commitment for you, then just get the free chapter on the website at russperry.co. Thanks so much, everyone. As always, tune in next week as we air these live every Tuesday and you can find all the past episodes again on my site, russperry.co. Talk to you next time and stay connected.
[Outro] Check out past episodes and download custom action guides at russperry.co/show.