Addiction and dependence on drugs are nothing new, and addictive personalities understand the consequences of their habit. It leads to illness, premature death, and health expenses. Addiction to nicotine is a massive problem, and the difficulty of shaking the habit is known to millions of people. A dependence on a drug can lead a person to all sorts of immoral behavior, and the loss of self-respect is inevitable when an individual will do almost anything to obtain their habit. There are all types of addiction from drug and alcohol abuse, sex, gambling, work, internet use, compulsive eating. Most of us have experienced some kind of addiction in our lives, and everybody seems to be seeking some form of Neptune (the ruler of addictive substances). Sometimes the reality of our lives becomes unbearable and we have nowhere else to turn. We shut the world out and follow blindly that which we think we need, but we can be led down a path of self-destruction.

Addiction falls under the rulership of Neptune and many of the behaviors associated with addictive behavior echo this planet’s characteristics of escapism, deception, altered loss of the sense of reality, and the ability to disappear into a different world altogether. Neptune is the planet that can slip into uncharted depths, but it also the planet of disintegration. If the destructive pull is too strong – addictive types dangerously slip, and many Neptunianswill chases the next high and seek oblivion through something for the illusory sense of oneness. Sadly it leads to many wasted lives rather than any kind of reunion with the divine. Some astrologers refer to the 12th house (Neptune’s house) as the dustbin of the zodiac. Herein lies all the wasted potential of people whose lives have gone horribly wrong: the tramps, heroin users, discarded and unwanted in society, all residing in the house of “self-undoing.”

C.E.O Carter discussed alcoholism and drug addiction in an Encyclopaedia of Psychological Astrology. Carter associated it with a number of different factors. In the birth chart of an alcoholic, according to Carter, the Sun, and Moon are almost always weak by sign and house position, or else they are badly afflicted, especially in or from fire and water, or both. Additionally, the fifth house (pleasure and entertainment) is nearly always afflicted by Neptune or by planets in watery signs, and Mars is frequently afflicted by Neptune, in or from Pisces.

An afflicted Neptune here can cause unreliability, self-delusion, alcoholism, drug addiction, and a loose and aimless lifestyle. According to Liz Greene:

We may also see darker substances, such as alcohol or heroin. In this context we can begin to understand the relationship of Neptune to the addict. Addiction is a complex business, and anyone who has ever tried to work therapeutically with a heroin addict or an alcoholic will know that while the right hand of the addict claws desperately for freedom, the left is secretly chained to the miraculous redemption hidden in the poison. No amount of logic can penetrate this Neptunian world, for the obviously destructive substance is, for the addict, the blood and flesh of the redeemer, capable of releasing him or her from the prison of incarnation and opening the barred gates of the long-lost Paradise. For the individual blindly seeking redemption through a consecrated object, sex, too, may become a Neptunian drug.

In such a situation, sensual pleasure and relationship with a partner are not the goal at all, but rather, the obliteration of loneliness and anxiety. Partners of individuals caught in this dilemma have expressed to me the uncomfortable feeling that their lover, husband, or wife is somehow “not there” during the sexual act; for this kind of sex is not concerned with making love to a real person. It is a species of masturbation, coiling back on itself like the uroboros, drawing the yearning one back into the unconscious oblivion of the womb. Addiction is usually associated with substances such as heroin or alcohol. We do not ordinarily think of a person being “addicted” in this Neptunian way to sexual pleasure, or to spiritual disciplines, or to physical exercise.

We know that food can become a source of addiction; the wide range of so-called “eating disorders” is testimony to this. I am not suggesting that every compulsive eater or bulimic or anorexic is really reaching out for something spiritual. More often it is mother who is eaten with the cream buns, an archetypal “good” mother whose milk is not poisoned; and it is the “bad” mother, the one who has heartlessly closed and locked the gates of Eden, who is vomited up by the bulimic and denied by the anorexic. But where Neptune is powerful natally (or by transit or progression), we need to look at what is really being enacted. Addiction, like the ritual of the Mass, involves a transformation of ordinary substance into the magical flesh of the redeemer.