Addictions are servitude to various fanaticism: including Power, Food, Religion , Fitness, Gambling, Sex, Football, Work, Titles, TV and of course the social media

By Mertha Mo Nyamande

Following on from last week’s article on Addictions: Substance Use Disorders (SUD), this week explores how Addictions go way beyond just drugs and alcohol.

Substance abuse is often seen as choice, thereby amounting to the concept Deliberate Self-Harming (DSH) behaviours and therefore focused on more because they are considered more menacing and harmful, though there is a long list of other addictions that cause a lot more and perverse harm than these.

Other addictions are servitude to various fanaticism including Power, Food, Religion fanaticism, Fitness/Health, Money/Gambling, Sex, Football, Work, Titles, TV, Labels, Fame, Social status, evidenced by bling, flashy cars and huge mansions and off course the social media and internet that have made it much easier to reach volumes and tell the world, seeking validation and attention.

Ironically, some of these, if not all, form the largest industries in this capitalistic world, yet they are simply coping mechanisms, though unhealthy ones.

Sadly, there is more sympathy for the workaholic or obesity than the alcoholic or gambler, while the spoils, neglect, and abandonment they both cause are equally damaging.

There are also more subtle ways of managing psychological pain by converting into physical pain. Ever heard of that guy who got beaten up at the beerhalls almost every week before COVID-19 restrictions, wonder how he is coping now?

In the western world, the ideas of self-cutting, burning and other mutilating behaviours including cosmetic surgery are also rampant, all pointing to the same issues.




The idea of addiction is rooted in poor attachments in childhood that form lasting and detrimental beliefs about life, and Africa is a breeding ground for such despite the ubuntu and communal justifying concepts that a child belongs to the village and largely raised by grand/stepparents and various other guardians away from its biological parents; either due to being orphaned or the parents are otherwise absent for various reasons, including being in the diaspora to be able to “provide”.

From a distance it looks good enough and mitigating for the neglectful absence, with some extraordinarily strong justifications from reputable organisations and iconic figures, but close-up, the wrath and ugliness of it all is nothing but pain from the exploitation created by the vulnerabilities that arise from the lack of “natural protection” from these absences and losses.

Such is the pain that addictions feed off, and tries to fix by numbing or hide / escaping into whatever fantasy.

We have been sold so many lies, and sadly most of which have become our “culture”, a place we resign and excuse with every difficult or challenging situation, instead of digging deep within for solutions.


Every child wants to be like, and please their parents, so when the child is not given the opportunity to know the person or people they are supposed to become, most struggle to make sense of which direction to take, hence many become fixated on the “heavenly father figure” for guidance, for each parent plays a unique and distinct role.

Boys want to become like their fathers to maintain their mother’s love, and the same goes for girls and their fathers. Upbringing safety is taken away and the children are robbed of this principled right by these losses.

Attachment theory suggests that when there is poor attachment between mother and child, the child is left with an unhealthy fixation on a particular activity.

This often becomes the centre of their survival, especially in times of crisis.

The lacking a father’s protection has been the root of most anxieties, hopelessness and helplessness that becomes depression, especially in boys who are left to fill their fathers’ roles in these absences among others.

In childhood, these anxieties are masked by the childhood’s innocence, but adolescence quickly exposes this as these children are confronted by the prospects and harsh realities of becoming adults with so much of basic life lessons lacking. So, any attention becomes welcomed but quickly fades away, just as the early losses have.

Most live in fear of those new attachment becoming neglectful as traumas, thereby the anticipated separation anxiety becomes yet another obsession or fixation that leads to the detriment of whatever other relationships.


Addictions are about amassing whatever aspect the obsession or compulsion is on, or about; whether wealth, food, or even emotional comfort, safety of excessive cleanliness to ward off germs at all costs, even if it means robbing others of whatever, somehow the pain justifies it all, leading to the 7 deadly sins of pride, covetousness or greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.

Pride especially points to ones inflated sense of self-worth that is out of proportion to reality, essentially narcissism will all become too familiar, as depicted, celebrated, and normalised in the Sodom and Gomorrah tales. The core erosion of moral and social fabric that no legal enforcement can remedy.



Remedies and recommendations

Addressing the underlying attachment issues and any associated subsequent damage, vulnerability or moral injury is key and the core intervention to any remedy for all addictions that psychological rehabilitations seek resolution for, without which a revolving door syndrome is created by the incomplete and or ineffective treatments.

Simply denying someone the one aspect that takes their pain away or whatever they use to escape their troubles, with detoxifying and exposure therapy can be retraumatizing and almost cruel.

Most people naturally reduce and stop the use of substances or whatever other addiction when they have better coping strategies, feel listened to, understood but most importantly understand the source of their pain and can also start to work out their own remedies.

“People begin to heal, the moment they feel heard”, not judged.

Mental Health: Wellbeing and Happiness Series with MoNya-Mental, by Psychotherapist Mertha Mo Nyamande @








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