Our society is inundated by addictions because we crave intensity and require even-stronger thrills to satisfy our cravings. Humans who become addicted to intensity can exhaust their internal thrill molecules, and then may turn to certain foods for stimulation, or may use drugs as substitutes. Addiction to drugs reduces sensitivity to the simpler thrills of life, and weakens our very humanity.
Any habit that you cannot break without seriously damaging your body, mind or spirit persona is an addiction. V people usually become addicted to substances that reduce their pain and insecurity. P people adopt addictions that keep them at the high level of activity that they associate with success. K people often fall into addiction unawares because of poor eating habits that they fail to change.
All addictions are fundamentally addictions to the Sweet Taste, the Taste that creates satisfaction in ahamkara. Each addiction develops under individual conditions and requires individual consideration for its removal. All addictions must be broken, though it is usually best to break' them gradually.
Addiction to sugar is a good example of how addictions develop. If you search for satisfaction primarily in your food instead of in your life you may well become addicted to sweets. If you are not careful to select healthful Sweet foods like fruit and whole grains, you will probably fall prey to sugar-filled junk foods like doughnuts for your Sweet fix. When you eat too much white sugar for too long it will exhaust your system’s ability to digest it. This will make you hypersensitive to it, which will aggravate Vata. Vata, which increases with any sort of exhaustion and hypersensitivity, will then exaggerate the gap between your high blood sugar level and your low blood sugar level. The size of this gap will depend on the intensity of your Vata disturbance and will determine in turn the severity of your symptoms. Control of Vata will ease your symptoms.
You cannot shake a sugar addiction by trying to go off it cold turkey. You must first replace refined sugar with other Sweet foods like whole grains so that you still get a Sweet “fix” regularly during the day. Ayurvedic supplements can then be used to even out the “spikiness” in your system’s response to carbohydrates that is causing the roller-coastering of your blood sugar. Simultaneously, a good diet and good habits will reduce and balance Vata.
Alcohol dependency is a form of Sweet dependency in which all Three Doshas are disturbed. Small amounts of medicinal wine control Vata-type diseases; large amounts of alcohol cause Vata diseases. Alcohol, because of its hot, intense taste and smell and its liquid nature, aggravates both Pitta and Kapha. Aggravated Pitta and Kapha then create obstructions to the free movement of Vata and vitiate it. The late stages of alcoholism are purely Vata in nature: shuffling gait, vacant stare, profuse and meaningless speech, severe mood swings, delirium tremens and hallucinations. All these symptoms reflect profound mental and physical “jerkiness” as a result of the irregularities of deranged Vata. Even if you are not frankly alcoholic you will have to calm Vata first and then bring Kapha and Pitta back to normal if you want to eliminate an alcohol habit.
One can obtain Sweetness from whole grains, fruits and fruit juices. Grains provide a regular, stable source of sugar to the blood, and fruit juices like grape or pear can provide quick “fixes” of Sweet when the body demands them. Dates and dried figs strengthen the body and are good sources of intense Sweetness. Pomegranate juice, which provides Sweetness along with Bitterness and Astringency, is therapeutic for Pitta and helps to rejuvenate the system.
The powerfully Sweet juice of the carrot is Hot enough to encourage good digestion and Bitter enough to help reduce the body’s need for intense stimulation. The satisfaction and balance that the body receives from carrot juice provides tremendous subliminal satisfaction to the brain. This can compensate to some extent for the lack of pleasurable mental distortion that alcohol provides.
Carrot juice may be consumed alone or, when the liver is especially deranged, beet can be added. Adding the long white daikon radish also helps support weak digestion. Cucumber’s Astringency helps reduce intensity craving and soothe inflamed tissues. The superior addition to carrot juice is cilantro, which is Pungent but Cold and flushes heat from both body and mind. Cilantro is one of the best foods there is for reducing anger. When digestion is very weak radish and carrot can be pressure-cooked together into soup with a slice of beet, or these vegetables can be chopped and cooked with mung beans and rice into kichadi, adding fresh cilantro on top before serving.
Physiological balancing removes jerkiness and promotes stability, which in turn assists the mind to right itself and return to normal functioning. People drink alcohol because it inflates ahamkara past her boundaries. These people exist in inflated ahamkara energy, inflated individuality, without regard for spirit, mind or body. The self-disgust and self-pity an alcoholic shows when he or she is sober is a trick that ahamkara plays on the rest of the organism so that it can continue uninterruptedly enjoying its alcohol-food. Alcoholism is, in fact, a disease of ahamkara, of the individuality.
Vimalananda puts it, “If you want to drink, you must make sure that you are drinking the drink, and that the drink is not drinking you."