Hedonism is the worship of happiness. If you’ve ever heard someone give the advice “just do whatever makes you happy” or “find someone who makes you happy” or any variation of that, that is hedonistic advice. This ideology infests our current culture and is what leaves so many people living unhappy lives. Seeking out happiness is pointless, as it is an emotion that comes and goes with so many countless processes within our bodies. Happiness is fickle, but when we discover meaningful ideas in our lives and fulfil those ideas then we have joy. Joy is something that is fulfilling and is not fickle, like happiness is. We must discover what can give us meaning in life, instead of simply what can make us happy. I believe this understanding of seeking out joy, instead of happiness, can change how we view sex, drugs, and alcohol in our culture.
Ultimately happiness is just an emotion caused by the production of this hormone in our body, called dopamine:
Alcohol is a depressant because it supresses many neurotransmitters, such as glutamate – a transmitter that tells your body to increase brain activity and energy. This is why alcohol numbs bad feelings and makes one think less. Many people find this aspect of alcohol the thing that draws them into drinking it, habitually. Alcohol also increases the formation of dopamine, which is why it makes one feel happy, even though it is still a depressant.
Drinking alcohol in excess can contribute to causing cancer in the mouth, throat, liver, breasts, etc. Alcohol in excess can also cause irregular heartbeats, strokes, high blood pressure, fatty liver, fibrosis, cirrhosis, toxic chemicals created by the pancreas, and immune system failures. Moderate drinking, however, may help prevent coronary heart disease, common colds, diabetes, and certain dementias. Alcohol is not by its nature addictive. People get addicted to the high levels of dopamine and suppressing processes of neurotransmitters.
There are many kinds of drugs, most of which rewire your mind. This means that the person who said “it will only be this one time” is not the same person who emerges after that one time. This is why many drugs are far more addictive than alcohol. Some drugs worth mentioning include amphetamines, tobacco, meth, heroine, and cocaine. Amphetamines (including “speed”) can help calm people with ADHD and ADD, can causes addictions, and excess amounts can also cause other addictions to form stronger. Tobacco contributes to millions of slow, painful deaths each year, and has been known to kill up to 20% of the population prematurely. Meth was used by Nazis; don’t use meth. Meth can help prolong intercourse, it is highly addictive, cause’s acne and excessive bleeding, and it is also a psychotic. Heroine is the most addictive drug, quickly rewires your mind, is easy to over-dose on, and causes painful withdrawals. Finally, cocaine helps one produce more energy, makes one more highly emotional, it is easy to over-dose on, and causes long withdrawal periods. Sense all of these drugs are addictive and have withdrawal symptoms associated with them, these all create happiness but prohibit us from finding any higher purpose in life without them.
Marijuana is also worth talking about it. There are many health benefits that we all hear about this drug. We also hear many dangers associated with the drugs in this plant (cannabis). The reason we hear mixed reports is because there are two distinct types grown. Hemp is the kind with all the health benefits and it has less than 0.03% THC – the drug that causes the high. Cannabis grown recreationally can have up to 30% THC found in it. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another drug found in both cannabis and hemp. It prohibits the high caused by the THC. In hemp, CBD is found in high quantities, whereas cannabis has smaller quantities of CBD found in it. The high caused by THC supresses certain neurotransmitters, just like alcohol. This supressing of other hormones can be an addictive effect, although the drug itself is not addictive.
Finally, I would like to look at sex. Being sexually active is actually incredibly healthy for you. Sex is an antidepressant, helps with anxiety, relieves pain, and can act as a drug. According to Timothy Fong MD,
“Taking cocaine and having sex don’t feel exactly the same, but they do involve the same [brain] regions as well as different regions of the brain.”
There is no definitive evidence that humans are physically designed to be monogamous. In fact, by looking at history, we see more evidence pointing to the opposite idea – that humans are not physically designed for one partner only. That being said, sex with multiple partners increases the risk for sexual diseases, exponentially. We also see evidence throughout history that social evolution has brought humans to a place where we do mate for life – this is called social monogamy and occurs for the sake of our offspring. The amounts of dopamine released and brain activity associated with sex can be an addictive effect, though sex itself is not addictive.
If we give into our physical instincts, we mate with many partners and increase the likelihood of addiction to that process. If one waits for the right person, then they can use this addictive nature of the hormonal processes to help them in the pursuit of loving one person, for life. Giving into our physical natures can cause us to make our sexual lives all about the sex, instead of having it be about the person we are having it with. By waiting until marriage, one can use sex to associate that happiness with that person, creating a stronger, deeper, and better relationship that is not just happy, but also fulfilling.
Choosing to participate in drugs, alcohol, and sex before marriage often is the result of a pursuit of happiness – a fleeting emotion. This is not always the case, I understand, but I think if we can change the views of our society on happiness then we can help people make more fulfilling decisions (more joyful decisions) in their lives. These sort of things can grasp our lives and create a god of happiness in our lives, from an early age; so, I urge everyone to decide how they want to live and how they wish to treat these subjects (please do far more research past this one blog post), then go help others make the same decisions. The earlier these decisions are made, the easier it will be to make fulfilling life decisions, instead of being trapped by drugs or sex. If we can make these decisions and help others make them, then fickle happiness cannot control us. Finally, to keep this knowledge and help change our society’s views on happiness, I urge everyone reading this to talk to your families about these things (regardless of your age or your family’s age) so that you can help one another live joyful lives.
If you think this message is important and can help get conversations started to change our society’s view on happiness, then PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!!!!
Also follow me down below, and comment / like this post to let me know what you think about all this!!!!
 WebMD has a good article on the health benefits of sex, here.
 Another great book about drugs and alcohol that I used for this post is called Buzzed.
 Stephen Hancock also wrote an article I found useful, called Drinking and thinking: alcohol and health.