The life of an addict is characterized by three stages: active addiction, background and recovery. These steps can overlap, reverse, repeat and do not necessarily follow each other. Generally speaking, however, every recovering addict follows this path.
It is the opinion of this author that, first of all, drug addiction is a problem of pandemic proportions. Second, the addiction pandemic manifests itself in our systems of money creation and indebtedness. Third, we head to the bottom. And, finally, it will bring an opportunity for recovery, with Bitcoin being a crucial part of this effort.
A pandemic of epic proportions
Most people’s understanding of addiction is based on the image of a junkie with needles stuck in his feet. Of course (and unfortunately) it happens. But that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The vast majority of drug addicts are functional drug addicts. They are people who are able to maintain a semblance of normality while hiding the downward spiral of addiction behind a facade of societal acceptability.
In fact, one of the world’s foremost experts on the stigmatized subject of addiction, Dr. Gabor Maté, openly admits to being a shopaholic who couldn’t resist buying classical music records. To the point that he no longer had a place in his house to keep them. In this video, he talks about his experience treating the most extreme cases of opioid addiction and how that experience led to the observation that his own behavior (despite the appearance of normalcy) was fundamentally indistinguishable from the behavior of addicts. that he was dealing with.
Many people’s lives are characterized by similar obsessive-compulsive behaviors. People can be addicted to work, sex, food, power, wealth, possessions, etc. Any external source of stimulation that can lead to a change in brain chemistry can (potentially) form the basis for the development of addiction. If we define addiction in terms of behavioral patterns rather than societal perception, it is clear that the addiction pandemic is much more widespread than is generally thought. Indeed, certain addictive behaviors, such as shopping, are not only acceptable within society but even encouraged. Despite the fact that it can just as easily become as compulsive as drug use.
Addiction to Debt and Money Creation
Total global debt stood at the totally unsustainable level of 355% of global GDP at the end of 2020, with household debt-to-income ratios in the Eurozone, the United States and China all at or above 100%. While all the biggest governments in the world across America, Europe and Asia are grappling with debt related issues. The United States continues to rack up its gargantuan debt of nearly $30 trillion despite having had no budget surplus since 2001, recording only five years of surplus since 1969. Japan holds the dubious honor of being ranked number one, in terms of the National Debt to GDP ratio, at 266%. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is experiencing its highest levels of inflation since EU harmonization in 1997, coinciding with its highest public debt levels in more than 25 years. While the governments of many other major developed countries like Canada, France, the UK, Italy and the Netherlands are all close to (or well above) a debt level of 100 % of GDP, with no sign of trend reversal. China, on the other hand, has become the world’s biggest creditor with bad debts exceeding 5% of global GDP, while simultaneously seeing its biggest real estate developer on the brink of default. This is not nothing considering that real estate represents 25% of Chinese GDP.
All the while, central banks around the world have expanded their balance sheets by record numbers. The US Federal Reserve alone added more than $4 trillion to its balance sheet in 2020, 40% of all it has ever printed and the largest one-year increase in its history. This is to be expected as it is well documented that the issuance of debt and the creation of money are inextricably linked in our modern financial systems.
Seen through the prism of addiction, it’s no surprise that the world finds itself caught in a downward spiral of endless borrowing and spending. It is easier to borrow from the future to pay for what we want now, than to save for the future until we can afford what we want. Given the right (or wrong) circumstances – excessive stress, trauma or violence – instant gratification brought on by spending or any other behavior that causes chemical changes in the brain can easily turn into compulsive behavior in a subconscious attempt to mitigate the circumstances. Thus, governments and their citizens are dependent on short-term relief, without worrying about the long-term ramifications. This is classic drug addict behavior and the compulsion to use is never stronger than moments before the final meltdown.
This is what separates functional addicts, who remain functional but addicted, from those who are driven towards recovery. It can be researched as was the case for Dr Mate but this is the exception rather than the norm. In most cases, if the addictive behavior is not extreme enough, the individual is unlikely to recognize the dysfunction caused by the addiction.
Those who enter recovery do not do so by choice. They are usually pushed as a last resort. A matter of survival. These addictions are ones where the compulsion is so strong and the behavior so destructive that the escalating obsession eventually leads to complete collapse, bringing the problem into such stark contrast that it becomes unmistakably obvious. While it is very difficult to draw concrete lines, the differentiating factor is often the rate of progress. Enter the largest borrower in history, the US government. With a projected debt level of $50 trillion by 2030, almost double what it is now, the accelerated trajectory of the underwriter of the global financial system seems undeniable.
And yet, denial is precisely what keeps the addict going until there is no other choice. Until their world collapses. Until they end up with nothing and no one. Until complete annihilation threatens their survival. Most addicts have to hit rock bottom. It takes nothing less than this level of naked reverence for the scale of the problem. And that’s when recovery becomes possible.
But there is a catch.
Because the addict’s mind is the source of the problem, it is also unable to find its own solution. Recovery must therefore begin with the recognition that the addict cannot solve his own problem. The solution begins with surrender. Surrender to a source of wisdom and power that is not under the direct control of the addict. A source of wisdom, whose words cannot be manipulated by the addicted mind to lead it directly back to finding an excuse to consume. Recovery requires advice from an incorruptible source. A source that can be internalized but cannot be contained internally in its entirety.
What is Bitcoin if not a system of monetary rules that is beyond the will of a single individual, group or government to change as they see fit? And yet, Bitcoin is a system whose fate is in the hands of anyone and everyone at the same time.
Recovering addicts refer to this as a higher power, a reference that is often misinterpreted by non-addicts as religious, but nothing could be further from the truth. Religion involves dogma while recovery is decidedly non-dogmatic. Any setting will do, even a non-religious atheist setting, provided the addict submits to a referral system that is not of their own initiative. Whether it’s the guidance of an existing religion, a human mentor, or the promise of technology-enabled decentralization of power, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that if endless money printing and debt issuance leads to total collapse – and the world doesn’t take the opportunity to embrace a system where the levers to change the rules beyond the control of any individual or group of people – then, in typical drug addict fashion, we will eventually be back to where we are now: drowning in debt, needing more and more to get a decreasing effect.
This is a guest post by Hermann Vivier. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.