5 TED Talks About Addiction

Updated December 2, 2022 · 2 Min Read

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TED Talks has established itself as an innovative and illuminating source of knowledge on every subject, from farming to sociology and music to climate change. TED Talks, increasingly, address deeply personal subjects, including mental illness and addiction.

The road to recovery from addiction is, to say the least, an arduous one. It can also be a hugely expensive endeavor, with costs ranging from hundreds into the hundreds of thousands between prescription drugs, therapy, and residential rehabilitation. Addiction recovery also requires significant support from the community, family, and friends, along with consistent learning about the nature of addiction - what causes it, what sustains it, and what steps may lead to recovery.

Here are five TED Talks about addiction.

Johann Hari: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

Johann Hari is a British journalist who has spent a number of years researching the American War on Drugs. His research led him to believe that addiction is a very different beast than the one most people think it is, and his confrontational and well-researched TED Talk provokes new ways of thinking about the nature of addiction, what causes it, and how it can be more effectively treated.

Judson Brewer: A simple way to break a bad habit

Judson Brewer is a psychiatrist who, for the last twenty years, has studied the link between building mindfulness and overcoming addiction. Utilizing this knowledge, he has successfully treated a great number of patients using mindfulness techniques and exercises aimed at breaking addictions and bad habits. His TED Talk gives an overview of this concept, and relays a simple but effective way to diminish or break an addiction.

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Brené Brown is a researcher in the field of social work that focuses her study on shame, vulnerability, and authenticity as functions in human society. In her Ted Talk, "The Power of Vulnerability," she discusses the importance of human connection and vulnerability with and to other human beings - and how it is the key to addressing human problems ranging from addiction to mental illness.

Related resource: The Top 10 Low-Cost Online Master’s Degrees in Addiction Counseling

Martin Seligman: The new era of positive psychology

Martin Seligman is a psychologist, and the former president of the American Psychological Association. In his TED Talk, he talks about the limits of psychology and psychiatry, and how, for many years, both disciplines followed the disease model - with the belief that they were improving the lives of patients suffering from addiction or mental illness - and how these disciplines fell short of improving everyday lives and emphasizing the merits of human emotion and ability over the downfalls of human weakness.

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Brené Brown: Listening to shame

One of Brené Brown's focus areas as a researcher is shame, and in this brilliant and funny TED Talk, she explores shame as "the swampland of the soul," how shame and guilt are not the same, and how shame is strongly correlated with a host of problems from eating disorders to drug addictions. Additionally exploring how shame is organized by gender, she emphasizes that we must stop the cycle of shame particularly where vulnerability is concerned - because vulnerability is the heart of human connection, and human connection is the root of healing from addiction.

Each of these TED Talks approaches the topic of addiction or relates to it in different way. Different lessons can be learned from each - and whether you are an addiction counselor or recovering from an addiction yourself, they may help provide much needed insight and knowledge that can aid in the recovery process.

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