An addict is a person who needs help. It is understandable that we have prejudices about addicts, especially if they are dependent on illegal drugs. They have often made poor decisions that have led them to that, and generally their lives have deteriorated. Sometimes they are left homeless and without friends. But the truth is that most addicts remain in that situation against their will. They have lost the ability to control themselves and decide what is good for them. Basically, to be an addict is to be a slave to bad decisions. I take advantage of this analogy to tell you the origin of the word addict after these brief definitions.

Dictionary Definition

Addict: Noun. A person who cannot stop doing or using something, especially something harmful. (Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary)

Addict: Verb. To cause (someone or oneself) to become dependent (on something, esp a narcotic drug). (Collins English Dictionary)

You can be addicted to practically anything, not just drugs. There are people addicted to chocolate, or sex, or even work. Still, these addicts don’t usually recognize their problem, so the word Addict is used just uccasionally. According to the Collins English dictionary, Addict is one of the 30,000 most commonly used words. 

Here are three examples taken from the web so you know how to use this word, as a noun and as a verb:

“The best way to overcome addiction is by one addict supporting another addict.”

From Discover Weyburn website Article: Addict in Recovery Trying to Help Others in Need. 2019

If I had a penny for every time I encountered a smartphone addict, I would be really rich.”

From Mashable India website Article: Put Down Your iPhone! That’s What Tim Cook Wants. 2019

Prince Harry, speaking recently at a YMCA in West London, addressed the controversial topic of video game addiction, came down hard on Fortnite: “The game shouldn’t be allowed,” he said. “It’s created to addict. An addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It’s so irresponsible.””

From Gulf News UAE website Article: FNC members press for banning violent games Fortnite, PUBG. 2019

Once upon a time in Roma…

Or to be more precise, in Ancient Rome, slavery was not only legal, it was the main sustenance of the economy. It was the slaves who did all the hard work necessary to maintain society, such as mining, agriculture and construction of buildings. The did all this without charging half a Denarius (the currency of the time).

The slaves came from three main sources: 

From the battles won by the Empire. After a battle the Roman soldiers used to bring with them all the people remaining alive on the rival side as prisoners. These could be enemy soldiers or inhabitants of the cities they attacked.

From children considered bastards by the father of some family, which were abandoned or given up for adoption, but very often were only picked up to become slaves.

And finally, from a trial for theft or serious debt. There were the figures of “creditors”, which lent money at a certain payment term and with interests, and when the debtors did not comply with their corresponding payment they were taken to court, and if in court it was determined that the debtor did not have and would not have in the near future how to pay his debt, he was sentenced to be “addīctus”, a Latin word which was the past participle of “addīcere” that meant “to deliver, award, yield, make over, sell,  hand over, surrender, devote,”. An addīctus, therefore, was a person who had been legally surrendered to the will of his creditor, or to the person from whom he had stolen, and this meant only one thing: he became a slave. 

From there comes the word Addict, an English translation adopted around 1530, which maintained its ancient meaning until the early 19th century, when anti-opium movements began to appear and they chose the word “Addict” to call those people surrendered or slaves to drugs. 

This leaves us with a good lesson: it’s a bad idea to borrow money. 

It was a joke! But now seriously, using drugs is the same as borrowing money in Ancient Rome, earlier than later it will turn against you and charge you with your freedom. Don’t fall into such traps, and if you ever become an addict, be it addicted to reading books, rescuing animals, or doing acts of charity!

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