Addictions: Featuring Star Trek as a Helpful Example


There all kinds of them, alcohol addictions, sugar addictions, gambling addictions, computer game addictions, work addictions, shopping addictions, fancy car addictions, caffeine addictions, Korean drama addictions, chocolate addictions, nicotine addictions, medication addictions, friendship addictions (which commonly lead to stalking addictions), addictive TV show addictions, tea addictions, crumpet addictions, and come to think of it, listening to British people addictions.

Honestly, I didn’t even know there were so many addictions until I wrote that paragraph.

  • Why are there so many addictions?
  • Where did they all come from?
  • Can we send them back to Tatooine?

The answers to the following questions are as follows:

1 – People like to take advantage of the imperfection of humans and our many wants (…that slowly turn into needs as we get accustomed to having those wants in our lives).

2 – Tatooine

3 – For now, we have not yet developed the technology to launch concepts into space (let alone getting them to congregate and line up and agree to be expelled from Earth).

But it’s interesting you should bring up outer space.

Because there was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, that aired in 1988, called “Symbiosis”, and to quote the internet, in this episode…:

“The Enterprise encounters two neighboring cultures, one suffering from a plague, the other marketing a cure, and learn that nothing is as simple as it seems.”

So we have two planets, one is the seller of medication, and the other is the buyer. At first, the crew and of course the audience are rooting for the sick planet to just get its medication so it can feel better! (There is a delay in getting the latest shipment).

Then wait a minute, when Dr. Crusher finally administers the drugs to the two guys (T’Jon & Romas) from the sick planet, she realizes that there is something fishy in the Alpha Quadrant! These guys aren’t sick! They’re suffering from withdrawal and they are just really, really, disablingly addicted to the meds. Their disease was cured years ago, but the seller planet still depends on the meds’ addictive nature to make their money and to keep their whole economy running.

At first when I saw this episode, I was thinking, “Pfft, all you need is for one hippy, or anarchist, or humanitarian, or any kind of person who has a conscience and doesn’t mind ruining a whole planet’s economy, to let the cat out of the bag.”

But then I realized, you know, this is the first season of TNG, which also features mini non-organic life forms’ calling Picard an “ugly bag of meat,” then the crew dims the lights and they react like the witch from Wizard of Oz.

So, you gotta know what you’re dealing with. First season of TNG: Not All the Bugs are Worked Out.

Bugs aside, I realized that this episode is a great allegory for our lives today. Instead of two planets though, you just have humans. Buyers and Sellers.

Me? I’m a buyer. I find myself periodically addicted to caffeine, sugar, pina coladas, bread and french fries.

Caffeine is the number one habit I’d like to kick. Especially because when I start to feel down or dreary, I should probably reach for some vegetables and fruits, which contain nutrients that will actually make me feel better, not just make me THINK I feel better.

And that’s the problem with addictions, they make you think you feel better, but you really don’t. Because once the excitement, high or energy wears off, you’re back where you started.

How do you free yourself then?

Well, let’s ask Captain Picard.

Through most of the episode, as I remember it, Picard is lecturing everyone about not getting involved, and how it’s not the Federation way to interfere in planetary affairs.

And just when you think that these poor drug addicts are going to be stuck buying meds they don’t need, Picard says to T’Jon & Ramos, “whoops, I’m not helping you fix your cargo ship, and now you can’t get supplies. Sorry, it’s um, Starfleet protocol or something. Oh snap!” And the poor addicts are all, “AHH!! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US? WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

What are the lessons here?

  1. Both races will now have an opportunity to advance and broaden out their economy/talents/uses of resources
  2. Cold turkey
  3. No pain, no gain
  4. The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care
  5. You can’t send all addictions into space, but you can make your own personal rocket for your own addictions that you may be struggling with.

And finally…

6. You are not going to die without the thing you’re addicted to. You’ll just FEEL like you’re dying. It’s totally different.

All the best to you! Me? I’m gonna cut back on the espresso.


About pertobello

I live in Toronto but I'm from the east coast originally. I like photography, psychology, writing, pictures, the brain, literature and the creation of, taking snapshots, therapy (of myself and others), manuscripts, digital renderings of events and places, exploring the capablities and workings of the human mind, transcribing my thoughts and stories into a readable format. Wow I have an impressive list of interests!!
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3 Responses to Addictions: Featuring Star Trek as a Helpful Example

  1. Vito says:

    Damn Tatooine!

  2. mrglplx says:

    …but the womp rats won’t shoot themselves Vito…

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