Addiction vs. Rewilding


I struggle with alcoholism. I sometimes have the urge to get completely fucked up drunk. At one time in my life I smoked more than half a pack of cigarettes a day. I sometimes binge on television shows and don’t leave the house for days, just watching entire seasons without so much as stepping out of my bedroom to take a piss or even eat a meal. I do this also with video games. I check my facebook way too much, even when I know I probably don’t have any reason to. Okay, so I’ll admit it. I have an addiction to certain aspects of civilization.

I’ve written about how I don’t feel guilty and that I don’t consider myself a hypocrite but I’ve never really touched on the simple truth that some of us… um… have a problem. That still doesn’t make me a hypocrite! Nor do I believe that I should feel guilty about my addictions. Certainly the guilt I felt for smoking didn’t make me want to stop smoking. Guilt does not work all that well as a motivator, especially because addictions fill a void and it feels good to have that void filled. In a sense drugs like alcohol and cigarettes create the void for which they need filling by creating the chemical dependency.

Dependency. It seems that word lies at the center of addiction.  As living creatures, our bodies have certain dependencies; air, water, food and shelter from elements. Some believe we have sensuous dependencies like the caress of another persons hand. We need these things or we will die. But you wouldn’t say that we have an addiction to food; we need it to live. When we talk about addiction, we talk about artificial dependencies or unnatural dependencies.

In order for our masters to keep us from revolting or rejecting this culture, they have to make us dependent on it. Like an abusive “bread winner” making a spouse believe that they need the person or they will perish without them. By denying us access to land, food and information they keep us locked here, forever slaves to their system. Long ago, they simply forced us to give them some of what we make. Now most of us don’t know how to live outside of this system and even if we did, they would not allow us to if we ever grew in numbers.

Like any drug or addiction, in order to get rid of our dependency, we must find something else to fill the void of the addiction or work hard at weening ourselves from the addiction. Rarely, people can do this on their own. The rest of us require a culture of support for dealing with withdrawals, cravings and searching for the other things to fill the void.

Feeling guilty for seeming like a hypocrite while lacking a culture of support to help you become less dependent on civilization makes no sense and further only works to paralyze those who want to find a way to kick the addiction. This guilt becomes a wall. To relate what I said in Hypocrisy vs. Rewilding to addiction: when people call you a hypocrite for using modern technology to create a culture of support to not use modern technology, it implies that you must quit “cold turkey”, like jumping into an ice cold sea instead of lowering a life raft.

In order to understand how to break an addiction, I have to ask, “Why do I watch entire TV show seasons in one sitting?” What void does that fill? Why do I have a void there? Does boredom make me watch them? Can I consider boredom a void? Perhaps it works as a “toxic mimic” of stories around the campfire from our ancestral days? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I need to ask them. And I need a community to think about these things with me. We need rewilding support groups to help us deal with our addictions in a guiltless, non-judgmental way… Another reason to start a rewild camp in your area!

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18 Comments on “Addiction vs. Rewilding”

  1. Thanks, Scout.

    I deal with some sort of mental-anguish over my addictions, all the time. It’s true what you say, it’s a wall to real action. There’s things that i do that i really don’t like (social interactions) but at the same time i have a whole, huge culture pushing down on me and it’s so, incredibly difficult to always be a positive, civilization-berating, natural world-connecting, force. Although, that’s who i want to be. I guess we need to just do the best that we can to stay active and effective.

    -kid cutbank

  2. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately…

    I too get addicted to TV shows and watch entire seasons in one sitting…I can justify it however I want (It’s too hot…It’s raining…the mosquitoes are horrible…I hate the city anyway) but really it is simply a justification. I justify my TV series addictions (which come and go and aren’t constant at all) in the same way I used to justify smoking cigarettes. I’m pretty damn talented at justification.

    Why do I watch entire seasons of some TV shows? I do feel that for me it is to fill a void (which you mentioned). I lack the community here of people who think and agree with things in the same way I do. Do the tv shows have groups of anti-civ people hanging out? Well of course not, but they do suck me into their way of thinking. In this way, not only do I become part of a completely artificial community with people that don’t exist, but I BECOME SOMEONE ELSE to do so. I become someone that the dominant culture would like…not the girl ranting about the environment or outside picking up trash in the city…no I become a girl that the general populace would agree with, like, watch.

    So my addiction to tv shows (and it’s only to ones where I can watch the entire season at once) fills a void for me (lack of community) while fulfilling western society’s goal for me (getting me to fit in).

    Breaking the addiction will be hard, even thinking about never watching an entire season of something again is sickeningly difficult for me…but I think it comes down to who I want to win this battle: me or them…

    I think I’ll have to approach it like I did quitting cigarettes…by gradually cutting back. I still smoke on occasion when I have a few too many drinks, but that is VERY occasionally. So…maybe the end goal for me should be to watch an episode or two on occasion…but never an entire season.

    Thanks for writing this:)


  3. Hey Scout.
    I went into “teaching” a few years ago after 10 years of corporate bullshit. I get two months off in the summer of course. For the first two weeks of this “freedom” I am miserable. I just figured out why. My job keeps me busy and preoccupied from reality.

  4. Hmn Scout,


    When I was a teenager, I smoked them because I liked them. I purchased them by the carton, and even stored them in my fridge (I left home early).

    One day, I lit one up, and guess what? I could not inhale. I tried, and I tried, and it was my body that resisted, and said no more. And to this day, and that is quite some time ago, I am an avid non-smoker, as a matter of fact, I can’t stand the smell of cigarette smoke. We are now talking about 3rd hand smoke. How does this happen? Smoker comes over and sits on your couch has a couple if you allow him/her to smoke in your house, leaves, but his smoke remains… on your couch. The smoke remains on the smokers clothing, mouth, hair, everything. Yuk!
    I am glad that my body resisted cigarettes when I turned 23.


    Yes, I went through the vodka phase, but that too was resisted by my body.

    Now I deal with other issues, and live with them.

    Thank you for sharing.

    p.s. Dexter?

  5. Rationality usually won’t cut it either – hence, your own intelligent argument, though convincing and true, doesn’t actually stop the dependence. AA teaches that alcoholism is a family disease, and the program is actually spiritual in nature so I suggest it if you want to tame the alcoholism. It might very well inform another aspect of rewilding you often write about, which is community.

    Have you ever seen the film “N’ai, the Story of a K!ung Woman”? I recommend it if you haven’t just to kind of get a visceral sense of the effects of dependence, economic, socio/cultural and chemical, on ‘civilization’. It is no accident that alcohol is the right hand mand of cultural domination and land ownership.

    I am thankfully not a drinker myself (though I have numerous habitual addictions) probably because I so strongly believe that it is the “white man’s poison.” Yet, fermented drinks have had a long relationship with man (exactly how long I don’t know) so it has a place, just wish it wasn’t our minds and hearts.

  6. i think suppression of some aspect of who we are can result in an addiction. The culture we live in suppresses who we are, our wildness. The act of being domesticated leaves a void where the wildness is, that is suppressed. It craves excitement, wild things, passion and seeing life. So i think it looks for any thing that feels good, relieves stress, or distracts. Usually these things are not in the best interest of the body.
    I think as people start rewilding they will feel the internal battle of there wildness and domestication any feel pain that may make people more susceptible for addictions.
    This is why a community is needed. when this internal battle happens if there is no community that understands and has rites of passage or something it fractures the rewilding process and can end in addiction.
    anyway these are my thoughts.

  7. the best book i have read about addiction was ‘in the realm of hungry ghosts – close encounters with addiction’ by gabor mate. addiction is a completely irrational behaviour rooted in the subconscious, and many of us suffer from a wide spektrum of addictive behaviour.

    to be ostracized for something barely within your control only makes it worse and creates a community of addicts who support each other with greater compassion, and through greater lengths, than your common urban community could imagine! the way we are taught to deal with addicts only exacerbates the problem. we are merely looking for something to soothe ourselves -whether from the trauma of early childhood abuse or that of the realization that we have inherited a world which our forefathers (whom we are brought up to trust) have pillaged.

    none of us are born with the discipline and strength of character which we desire, it is a process of growth. many years back, i have chosen to eliminate the feelings of boredom or laziness from my life, things society instills in us from infancy so that we may consume its entertainment: entertainment which gives the idea that the rollercoaster/tv show is a spectacle, while society is not -the perfect crime (baudrillard).

    whenever i see the northern lights, i immediately realize how deprived of beauty and !mystery! the youth of our cities are. natural beauty is something that flashing movie theatres and psilocybin could not replace, tho we may try, desperately, not knowing the void we aim to fill.

  8. “most of us don’t know how to live outside of this system and even if we did, they would not allow us to if we ever grew in numbers.”

    Scout, and others who are identifying “community” as a key missing component in our collective journey toward rewilding, I ask you: how can we (rewild-minded folks) live INSIDE the system now, and in satisfying numbers, and create the community we need to, if not live outside the system for legit fear of getting murdered en masse, offer support to one another on a day-to-day level? I’m talking about intentional community. I’m not talking about a final cultural solution – I’m talking about a solid step in the right direction; toward community.

    Anyone? Why are we not living in community now? Are we addicted to isolation?


    1. Can you remove the photo from your blog, the road-kill puppet show? I feel scared when I see it. I’d like to read your blog but I’m scared I accidentally see that picture.

    2. Yeah, I really wonder why people tease saying others are hypocrites… What do they have in themselves they don’t want to see? So often people attack others when it’s their own thing they don’t want to see – when they are reminded of their own problems they attack the person through whom they remembered their problem. I really wonder why people bully. It’s pointless and unexplicable.

    3. Life-raft, yes. I’ve also experienced this need with rewilding, and the blame for having that need. When I was in Poland in Anarcho-Primitivist Gathering 2008, I was depressed and sleeping and eating lots of raisins and honey. I knew I was addicted to sugar and I knew I was depressed. I only felt worse when people showed disapproval over my eating sweet stuff and sleeping a lot. It’s like a wall of tensity that you get from people. And I was feeling alone. I guess it’s really often loneliness that leaves you craving for any pleasure. With me at least. I also sometimes listen to music too loud. I don’t do it, I don’t binge or burn my ears with noise when there’s a friend there to communicate with. If I feel a connection, I don’t “just try to get it from somewhere”.

    I’m not so into courses like the Yearlong in Teaching Drum, because I’m afraid they would only traumatize me with the sudden vertical change in lifestyle. It always creates stress, when a being is in totally new conditions and must adapt to a new lifestyle. I want to rewild gradually, according to my sense of comfort.

    4. It’s also possible to create positive addictions, like jogging or swimming in cold water, even. They create rushes of feeling good that you start to crave. The first few times it takes persistence to do it, then you can’t live without it.

    Thanks for sharing, Urban!

  10. Great post, Scout. I often think off all the things you’ve said. I, too, get hooked on seasons of TV shows, wanna get drunk, and used to smoke cigarettes. I spend a lot of time doing things on the computer that may or may not benefit my life & the lives of others. And yet we are connecting…..

    Gabe, you said, “Why are we not living in community now? Are we addicted to isolation?” That is a very good question with lots of answers. I think the biggest thing is lack of models. Everywhere we look we see pseudo-community, but not true community based on supporting all of each other.

    Someone recently told me that there is still a part of our brain that goes back to the idea of the herd. Meaning that ingrained in us is the desire to be like the herd and be surrounded by those like us. That part of our brain knows that if we are surrounded by those like us, then we are safe (in the middle of the herd) but if we are not, we must be vulnerable to attack. I think this applies to these things we wonder about. It would feel really risky to do that jump into ice cold water, especially if part of our brains has us convinced a wolf is coming. Maybe these ‘addictions’ are our way of feeling safe & in the middle of the herd, even though our beliefs cause us to seem on the edges of the herd.

    I don’t know if my rambling made any sense, but I had to say my piece. Thanks, Scout!

  11. I want community.

    I feel like I’ve got a lot of voids all over inside me. I’ve got a lot of social problems and anxiety, so I’ve never really experienced a sense of community. It was recently suggested that I don’t talk/interact in social situations because I’ve become addicted to the feeling of validation I get when I can just sit back and have someone approach me, strike up a conversation with me, and take an interest in me. I think this is partly true, but I think I also have an overwhelming fear of people. It is really terrifying to think about all of the different ways in which people can hurt and reject you. And of course they would reject me because I am all of the terrible adjectives I describe myself with: stupid, ugly, untalented, and some how unworthy of love. It’s like there’s a big gaping void where all of the love for myself and the world is supposed to be.
    No matter how terrifying the possibility of rejection by others is, sitting alone and thinking about the possibility of never knowing what community feels like is far worse.

  12. WOW! So many comments! I’ve been working so haven’t had a chance to catch up… This is like a “Rewilders Annonymous” hahahaha. Thanks everyone for feeling strong enough to share! here we go:

    You said, “it’s so, incredibly difficult to always be a positive, civilization-berating, natural world-connecting, force.” Yeah exactly.

    I’m great at justifications too! Haha. You said, “not only do I become part of a completely artificial community with people that don’t exist, but I BECOME SOMEONE ELSE to do so.” That’s totally true and fucked up. Great way of putting it. I feel like I stay abreast of pop culture to fit in enough that people won’t think I’m totally crazy. Unfortunately, pop culture and sports have merged recently and I fucking hate sports so much that I just can’t find an interest in it. I’m a bit nervous about it. When people bring up bullshit (which happens all the time now) I have nothing to add… I feel like it leaves me out of their superficial connection, which it seems is what they are going for anyway. I was joking the other day at my job and said, “Sports talk is the new cigarette”. It’s fucking true and weird and ridiculous.

    Hey Frisii,
    I know how you feel. Thanks for sharing that.

    Hey Christine,
    You smoked! Haha. That’s funny to me for some reason. I’m glad you stopped. I have a similar reaction now; I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes. I get a headache immediately if I smell one.

    I agree that alcohol is the white man’s poison… and also that it could be sacred. I have that Sacred Healing Beers book… But fuck that shit. I rarely drink anymore, I’ve pretty much figured out how my body reacts enough set myself up for success. The only thing I can really drink these days is wine, and I can do so in small amounts and I rarely even drink that. But the poison will always loom in the background…

    Hey Garth,
    I couldn’t agree more!

    Hey Lala,
    OOooooh that sounds like a good book. I’m adding it to my reading list. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

    Hey Gabe,
    Those are great questions… And actually I think I’m going to make it an “ASK URBAN SCOUT” blog entry, or perhaps cut it into the “Community vs. Rewilding” blog I am working on right now. LOL. In short though, I agree that we need day-to-day support. I personally get that. I live in a house with rewilders and we all eat Paleo and help each other rewild and work on crafts and help eachother grieve and work on ourselves. It’s pretty amazing. But it was hard won. There are so many fucking crazy manipulative people out there that it was hard to find a group like these. Building that day-to-day community takes time. Not really hard work, some work (RUN A FUCKING REWILD CAMP ALREADY!!! LOL) but not much. Organizing and finding like-minds of SANE people can be a very long and arduous task in this psychotic culture. But there are people out there. Lots of them. Just waiting for the same things we are. They could be your neighbors. It takes a leap of faith on some part. I’ve cut out people in my life that I have known and loved for years because I realized they were just too fucking crazy. Doing so made it hard because I had to cut out all the mutual friends as well. I took a pretty hard hit in this regaurd about two years ago and am just now recovering from it. My advice? RUN A REWILD CAMP. 🙂

    Hahahaha. Sorry, can’t take the pic down, but it will cycle out of the top 25 posts soon enough. 🙂 I laughed pretty hard with your Raisins thing. Just two days ago I ate like a fucking pound of raisins in one sitting (while watching Dexter). I’m glad I live in a house with supportive people. Lots of us have health problems and understand fatigue and diet and we raz eachother sometimes but in a silly way. No one here judges, we only support. again, hard won friends. I totally agree with you about TD and those programs. I would not do that if I was running one. Maybe something close to it, a diet program like a fitness club or something, but not some weird religious fundamentalism dietary thing. Oh and I know what you mean with positive addictions! I’m totally addicted to BOXING! I love it. Although it definitely waxes and wanes and I can fall off the work-out addiction wagon pretty easily if I get work and it consumes my routines.

    That’s fascinating about the brain thing. I’ve never really heard it laid out in that way.

    I’m sorry you’ve never felt a sense of community. Ironically, I know you are not alone in feeling that way. There is a lot of people who feel the same. There is really only one way of getting over fear that I know of, and that’s confronting it. I say, confront your fear of people and don’t be hard on yourself. I’ve got voices in my head that call me the same things. I’ve found it helps to recognize that the voices may not be yours. I’m not shitting you, I have a list of positive words about myself on my wall and I go over the word list every morning when I wake up and every evening when I go to sleep. I have that focused time to drown out the voices that tell me I am worthless. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it definitely makes a difference.

  13. I’m glad to see an article about addiction.

    Five months ago I started going to a support group for people with eating disorders. Overeaters, under eaters, bingers, anorexics, bulimics……

    It’s offered me a lot of relief and sanity. The program I go to is a 12 step program, like you say it recognizes that addictions are filling a void within ourselves but that we need to fill that void with a higher power of our choosing.

    I’ve tried for a long time to analyze my addiction to no avail. For me, addiction affects the way I perceive the world and myself. So any logical attempts to break it down doesn’t work. If it were a logical thing I would just stop, but it’s not.

    One thing that it has done is help me feel less guilty knowing that I come from an incredibly messed up culture. Many people that I’ve met who deal with addiction have come to similar conclusions but they’re usually based on their personal and family his/herstories, rather than the culture at large.

    I guess the point and try to make is that while I think it’s really valuable to talk about these things with people in the rewild in community or people with the rewild in perspective, I think there’s still a lot of help from people out there that has nothing to do with rewilding. I’ve actually been surprised how much I have in common with people too. I found that mutual identification with addiction breaks down many of the barriers and amazing connections can happen.

    I think it’s great that people are talking about this. Bring it back to your communities face to face.


  14. Those who do live or seek to live an alternative lifestyle sometimes need support from others who share the same goal, desire or passion. When living in a minority (or even wanting to do or live a certain way even though they are not 100% “living the life”) some of us seek to restore our energy reserves by emotional support from others.

    Other times reading information on how to do the thing or positive encouragement about the lifestyle boosts us up enough to keep us going. This can be from a paper book and now often it is from various Internet sources.

    I am not a rewilder but a homeschool mother (only 1-2% of American kids are homeschooled). I do some things people consider urban homesteading but I’m not really looking for labels or affirmation from anyone, just explaining where I’m coming from.

    I’m also a former white collar corporate employee who left her job to raise kids, I’m in the minority with that too since now over 50% of mothers of young children work and leave the child care to a paid stranger. I was undermined and demoralized by others for choosing to pause my career to raise my kids myself. To get through that in the early years and to fight feelings of isolation I connected with other SAH moms via face to face support groups and also La Leche League. It helped keep me sane and that I wasn’t crazy for having these ideas and feeling I was doing the right thing despite being in the minority. Other things I’ve done in the minority were breastfeed, extended breastfeeding, organic gardening 15 years ago when it was “weird” and attachment parenting.

    Anyway my main point is that I want you to think about how the Internet and chatting with people via the Internet or reading stuff on the net can be fulfilling our needs for information and emotional support. This cuts across topic areas anything from rewilding to eating whole foods to homeschooling to homesteading.

    A side topic is how now so much can be done via the Internet or info is free so our non-Internet sources are dwindling, like magazines on a niche topic going out of publication, less books being published etc. This means for niche topics we will continue to seek the Internet. This is also proven by previously popular face to face support groups no longer being used by people as they say they find the Internet info easier, faster, and more convenient. It’s sad as formerly the face to face local networking was valuable and different and superior to the Internet connections. (I’m speaking of homeschool groups, conferences, and parenting stuff like La Leche League). It is hard to get newbies to attend a meeting or conference as they first came to the topic via the Internet and think it’s “good enough”. They don’t know what they are missing. Yet the face to face interactions can’t happen if the bodies are not there so a challenge is getting those people to step away from the computer and come together in person. (However that will never stop Internet communications as it truly puts more people in touch with each other especially when people are geographically separated).

    Don’t be so hard on yourself for wanting to connect with humans via the net.

    (For context I’ll share I was a volunteer with different organizations including some very local grassroots org’s and a group I started myself, so my experiences are not just as meeting attendees. I’ve put together my own public open houses and professional conferences. I know the power that face to face gatherings can provide but these are limited for some people to once a year or every 2 years, or at most, once a month = not enough for most people, so we are tempted by easy fast Internet support and info.)

  15. Addiction is the disease of Western culture. The whole motive of the corporate theology is to spread addiction. Whether it is food, cell phones, computers. William Burroughs said in Naked Lunch that Heroin was the ultimate consumer item.

    Yah, I was addicted to alcohol for twenty years. After a while, it will no longer fill the void. Then what?


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  17. Hey Scout and everybody who replied to this ace article.
    I think the toxic mimics are definitely a big part of it.

    The term – toxic mimic applies to anything which is sold to us as being able to fill an inherent need, but are actually poisonous impostors. We go to them seeking to fill our need, but they fail, so we go back and back to them.

    wee wrote an article about toxic mimics and even tried listing them… which is probably an addiction / toxic mimic in itself.

    Cold turkey can’t be out of the question when it comes to some of the technology stuff – video games don’t help us get away from civilization, accept in our noggins.

    So not owning one will make it impossible to play out the addictive behavior, and you can fill the void with your own real life adventures.