The Futility of Addiction


Released from the obligation to work, many retired people find themselves to be unsuspected addicts. With plenty of time on their hands, they are free to finally ruin their lives through addiction. Alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex…almost any activity can be ruinous if taken to an extreme.

Addicts usually spend a great amount of time rationalizing their addiction before daring to confront it. It’s not that bad yet…You’d do this too if…I only do this because she doesn’t…I’m just letting off steam…besides, what else is there to do in this stupid place?

Addicts often wishfully conclude that if only they take their addictive behavior to an extreme, they’ll somehow “break through to the other side” and prove to themselves that this way lies folly. They’ll tire of the game. They’ll have finally had enough. By “maxxing out,” they’ll find freedom from the compulsion.

You can never get enough of what you don’t need.

An addict is like a man digging a hole so deep he can’t climb out of it, but he’s convinced himself that if he digs faster or harder or more efficiently, he’ll finally find a way up and out. He can’t face the fact that he won’t be able to take any action to climb out of the hole until he first stops digging.

To use another metaphor: if you’re walking down the wrong path, walking faster won’t get you where you want to go. Imagining your goal around the next corner won’t help. You’ll simply have to realize that you’ve taken the wrong path, stop, turn around and painful as it may be, retrace your steps until you get back to the place where you made a wrong turn. You’ll have to chalk up all the time and energy you spent going the wrong way as loss. There is no other way around it.



Tito and Amanda Watts were arrested over the weekend for selling “golden tickets to heaven” to hundreds of people. The couple, who sold the tickets on the street for $99.99 per ticket, told buyers the tickets were made from solid gold and each ticket reserved the buyer a spot in heaven — simply present the ticket at the pearly gates and you’re in.


“People can sell tickets to heaven,” a Jacksonville police spokesman said. “But the Watts misrepresented their product. The tickets were just wood spray painted gold with ‘Ticket To Heaven – Admit One’ written in marker. You can’t sell something as gold when it’s not. That’s where the Watts crossed the line into doing something illegal.”

Tito Watts said in his police statement:

I don’t care what the police say. The tickets are solid gold… it ain’t cut up two by fours I spray painted gold. And it was Jesus who give them to me behind the KFC and said to sell them so I could get me some money to go to outer space. I met an alien named Stevie who said if I got the cash together he’d take me and my wife on his flying saucer to his planet that’s made entirely of crack cocaine. You can smoke all the crack cocaine there you want… totally free. So, try to send an innocent man to jail and see what happens. You should arrest Jesus because he’s the one that gave me the golden tickets and said to sell them. I’m willing to wear a wire and set Jesus up…

Amanda Watts said in her police statement:

We just wanted to leave earth and go to space and smoke rock cocaine. I didn’t do nothing. Tito sold the golden tickets to heaven. I just watched.

Police said they confiscated over $10,000 in cash, five crack pipes and a baby alligator.

This story has made its rounds on the Internet and produced a chuckle and much head-shaking from readers who enjoy laughing at the antics of the stupid and deranged.  But apart from their lack of sophistication, crack addiction and poverty, how are their delusions fundamentally different from those of wealthy super-church pastors?  And now does one get to this point, anyway?

One step at a time.  Most people lose their way in increments.  Smoking cocaine will get you where you want to go faster, but it’s still a process of one bad decision following another.  You get an idea, you entertain that idea until you forget that it was once just an idea you had and not a fact, and then you start making erroneous assumptions, some of which seem to pan out.  If you’re lost in the woods and you find that the path you’ve been walking down for the last few hours was the wrong one, there in only one way to remedy that situation.  You have to admit that this is the wrong path, retrace your steps and start over again. Sometimes that choice seems too difficult to entertain, so you apply almost the same amount of energy to convincing yourself that this is the right path despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary.

If you accept one preposterous assumption, it’s much easier to embrace the next one.  If you live next to the dumpster behind the KFC, and talk to people who hang out in that neighborhood, you’ve pre-selected the people who might be able to give you an objective overview of your universe. And if you all smoke crack together, then anything is possible.

But if you work on Wall Street and sell derivatives, is that a whole lot different than selling tickets to heaven?  Remember, the derivative market in 2008 was responsible for the greatest “legal” transfer of the wealth in the history of the world. People all over  he world are still paying the price for that one.

Even though in our most liberal moments we  might like to believe that all ideas have some validity, it’s simply not the case.  Some notions are more grounded in reality than others.  Delusion has a cost, and followed to its logical end, it ends up costing everything.  The concepts of truth and falsehood are only interchangeable in the short run.



Cell phone companies and Facebook are in the business of selling illusions.  You actually don’t need anything they’re offering, but they’ve done a very good job of making it seem that their services are indispensible. About half of everyone I know has bought the myth that getting and staying connected is everything.

In the picture above, taken from a magazine advertisement for cell phone service, we see four girls out sightseeing. But the girl who’s having the most fun isn’t looking at the sights at all, because she’s talking to someone who isn’t even there. And she’s positively ecstatic compared to her unconnected friends.  In fact, she’s literally writhing on the ground in ecstasy, even while she ignores the natural beauty in front of her. The message is clear. Nature is OK, and being in the here and now can be mildly amusing if that’s all you’ve got, but far better to talk to someone far away about what’s not happening to either of you.

It hasn’t been difficult for the providers to sell this concept because the target audience is already pre-sold. They’ve long ago accepted the idea that connectivity beats physical presence. Experience has taught them that illusions on small screens are preferable to seeing the real thing. In fact, the smaller the screen and the tinnier the audio, the more compelling it is. All their friends agree, and the younger you are, the more that matters.

This is what the Facebook community is like, as well. Instead of being with real people, users relate to their friends’ avatars. Now with the new Facebook smart phone application, you don’t need to bother to find a computer in order to be in constant contact with your Peeps. So even though the number of Facebook friends who are actually reading your posts may be small enough to count on your fingers and toes, the idea that, at least theoretically, anyone of Facebooks billions users could possibly be looking at what you’re about to eat for lunch is thrilling. No need to be alone anymore. That’s the miracle of connectivity!

The others three girls in the picture are trying their best to pretend to be unaware of their connected friend’s rapture, but you can bet as soon as they get home, they’ll demand that their parents buy them the best smart phone money can buy. And if they need to see a nature view, one will come up after a visual search, right there on their phone.