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Social work and human services
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Addiction: The most neglected disease in America
Traditionally, addiction was defined as the intake of substances that produce a psychoactive effect on the individual. In most cases, people take such substances as fun but their bodies become dependent on them over time. This dependence on substances like alcohol and tobacco is known as addiction. Alcohol and other psychoactive substances work through changing the chemical balance of the brain. In the recent past, modern psychologists have widened this definition to include psychological dependency on an activity. Some examples of psychological dependency include addiction to shopping, sex, Internet, pornography, work, and physical workouts. Juts like alcohol and other traditional addictions, psychological dependencies should be considered as addictions because the individuals involved have no control over them. Moreover, they experience feelings like guilt, shame, anxiety, and hopelessness whenever they engage in them. Addiction is a major problem in many countries and authorities are worried, because if they don’t do anything, they risk losing future generations. One of the countries whose future is threatened by addiction is the United States. This paper will address the various types of addictions in the country as well as factors that contribute towards making America an addicted nation.
According to the recent statistics released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Americans don’t know how to deal with personal problems. Many of them panic and try to come up with quick external fixes as a way of dealing with them. It’s normal that people face challenges in their lives at one time or the other but what is important is how they deal with them (Johnson 23). Some of the common problems faced by Americans include lack of money, excessive demands at the place of work, marital challenges, and trying to bring up children in a society where the media sets the agenda. It’s a very worrying trend that when faced with the above mentioned challenges, Americans rarely turn to interpersonal or internal resources in finding a balance.
As noted earlier, the first impulse of an American when faced with a problem is to look for a quick external fix which acts as both the solution and the problem. The first place that Americans look for solutions is in dopamine spikes. Individuals have different ways of making themselves feel better about their situations (Sheff 107). Its common knowledge that dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is activated by satisfying events. Such events may occur by nature or they can be activated through the use of certain drugs like cocaine, nicotine or even methamphetamine among others. Many of these drugs make the individual feel better by stimulating the functioning of their bodies therefore making them feel drunk or “high” as they say.
Throughout the world, America is respected for the impulse of its citizens to work hard, courage, and innovations. However, the fruits of these efforts take time to be realized and this has made many Americans impatient. Consequently, people have turned to drugs and other types of addictions as a means of finding quick satisfaction. This is understandable because naturally, people like achieving the fruits of their labor within the shortest time possible. Americans have lost patience and have embraced the idea of “why wait?”, and this desperation to feel better has made them grab anything within their reach so as to feel better and survive the day. The culture of addiction in the country has seen many people opt for artificial drugs and stimulants. The situation is made worse by the fact that many Americans abuse more than one drug. Current statistics indicate that one in every ten Americans is involved in drug abuse. Moreover, the statistics released by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicate that a quarter of all adult Americans are involved in binge drinking (Johnson 20). More worrying is the fact that many people in America who are involved in drug abuse don’t accept that they have a problem and therefore don’t seek treatment.
The issue of addiction in America has brought about many other side effects. First, many people who are involved in drug and substance abuse have been reported to have eating disorders. This explains why two thirds of the adult American populations qualify to be referred to as obese. Many addicts don’t have time to enjoy a balanced diet, but instead, they go for snacks and other fast foods (Sheff 127). Families of people who are involved in any kind of addiction are not stable and mostly end up in divorce. That’s why one in every five American mothers and wives is under anti-depressants. This raises the question, how has America wrapped itself with the blanket of prescription drugs, compulsive shopping, compulsive sexual behavior, celebrity worship, Internet addiction, and video gaming among other addictions? The answer to this question is that external fixes to problems, which are readily available in America, provide only those who have money. For example, the alcohol industry in the country takes in about $ 1 billion annually and tobacco takes in about $ 35 billion annually. Other types of addictions like Internet, gambling, prostitution, and texting also serve to fuel the dopamine fire in the country.
Although it’s natural that people like to feel good, great care should be taken when looking for this good feeling. This is because dopamine is derived from several emotional and physical sources. People should always seek for dopamine that comes from within because external dopamine creates a vicious cycle of relief. With time, this dependence on artificial dopamine may spill out of control and result in serious health complications. For the lucky few, they may land in rehabilitation centers where they can be treated by professionals. However, those who are not lucky enough may end up in the streets or may end up dying if drastic measures are not taken to help them.
Types of Addictions
(a) Social Media/Technology Addiction
Social media/technology addiction is the process where an individual utilizes most of his/her time on the Internet until it gets in the way of other schedules of day to day life. This type of addiction has become a major debate lately, although researchers have not yet come into a conclusion whether it is a disorder or an ailment. Social media/technology addiction is believed to be more widespread in comparison to addiction to drugs. Most health professionals have indicated that individuals who spend most of their time in the Internet suffer from depression, anxiety, and a number of psychological problems (T. Courtwright 87). Psychologists have disclosed ways of taking care of patients with social media/technology related problems and they have also confirmed that the addiction can cause severe life consequences. Additionally, the technology addiction has had great impact on marriages leading to high levels of divorce. According to many researchers and studies, this issue should be looked into seriously for it posses a huge threat to the society in general.
Every year, additional social media policies are implemented and the effortlessness of access is continuously getting better; hence, it is quite clear that social media/technology addiction is a problem that may not be eradicated any time soon. Direct conversations, status information and sending of various comments symbolize a number of the most widespread methods of interacting with associates and pals. In addition, connections completed via websites sidestep a lot of restrictions in personal conferences and discussions (T. Courtwright 98). Acquaintances all over the world interact easily on social media since movements are limited and the Internet has become quite inexpensive. Also, embargos, time-restrictions, and funds are viewed as a small issue in the practical world. The Internet can also be accessed in various parts of the world through the use of smart phones and this has led social media to be the most comparatively reachable form of interaction that provokes the urge to login anytime in the course of the day.
Despite the fact that social media and technology networking assist many people to appreciate themselves and to be more attached to the society, it has also left several individuals with a sense of loneliness. The addiction also has several negative impacts such as losing a job or disconnecting with close relatives and friends. In addition, if too much time is used on the Internet, social operations might be prejudiced and a sense of anxiety might rise if an individual is not able to access the electronic mechanisms and Internet for a long period. According to an Experian survey, on average, Americans utilize about sixteen minutes per hour on the Internet scrutinizing social networks (Mohr, 147). The report also indicates that this addiction is higher in the United States compared to other countries. However, the time spent on the Internet is still higher for countries such as Australia and United Kingdom averaging to fourteen minutes and thirteen minutes per hour correspondingly. Fighting social media/technology addiction is quite important, because it promotes social standards and good health. Individuals should time themselves on the number of hours per day on social media. This would enable them to control the level of addiction and they would be able to balance and attend to other aspects of their day to day life. Individuals are advised to practice more of offline connections in comparison to the amount of time utilized online (Juman 201). People who may want to spend more time on the Internet should try to engage in social interactions in the morning and prior to sleeping. This entails creating time for close relatives and pals instead of visiting social media websites from morning to evening. People are also encouraged to take social media break days in order to socialize with pals and close family members. It is also advisable that one should select friends cautiously on social media websites. This helps people to socialize with genuine acquaintances instead of categorization via updates from distant family members and ex-friends.
Generally, addicts lack joy in their lives and some may even commit suicide due to depression which has continued to change the way people perceive the Americans in the contemporary world. In order for the Americans to experience a change in addiction related issues, they must first embrace the fact that these are major setbacks that are affecting the nation negatively. This will be a great intervention and any person or entity disturbed about the well being of American people will be willing to help and contribute to the reduction of various America’s addictions (T. Courtwright 210). The psychologists and other health practitioners should join to fight the social medial/technology addiction for it is poses a major threat in the American culture and behavior of the American people.
(b) Behavioral Addiction
The second type of addiction in America is known as behavioral addiction. Unlike substance addiction, behavioral addiction does not involve taking any substances but rather involves dependency on certain activities. A person suffering from this type of addiction experiences uncontrolled compulsion to engage in an activity repeatedly until the activity results in negative consequences to the social, mental, and physical wellbeing of the individual. Some health professionals and scientists sometimes refer to behavioral addiction as impulse control disorders and argue that they are easy to treat compared to substance addiction. In a broader sense, a person addicted to an activity feels powerless about the activity and finds himself doing it regardless of its negative consequences.
A research carried out by The Scripps Research Institute in 2009, revealed for the first time that the molecular mechanisms responsible for making people addicted to drugs were also responsible for some be.............
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