Addiction is the condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity. The misconceptions and uncertainties surrounding addiction often mean the subject is avoided within social contexts. To understand the mindset of an addict one must consider the reasons why only some people fall into the trap of addiction. The assumption that all addiction is substance based, a chemical imbalance in the brain resulting in a dependency on alcohol, drugs or tobacco could not be further from the truth. Medical research into the matter has proved that psychological addiction to activities such as Internet usage and gambling can be as destructive as the more conventionally treated substance addiction. Addiction essentially begins with exposure, whether that is the offhand smoke of a cigarette or a one off bet with a sum of money. Casual usage then shifts to a daily pre-occupation, then to dependency and finally results in one becoming a victim of their addiction. In that sense addiction can be perceived as a downward spiral of destruction, becoming increasingly harder to stop and escape out of.
While the term ‘substance addiction’ can be used in a rather generic way, in fact the addiction and misuse of drugs is to a greater extent one of the most devastating types of addiction. In the UK alone nearly 4 million people depend on elicit drug use, and worryingly statistics from the United States show that nearly 22 million people resort to the use of illegal drugs. This is by no means saying that the drug culture in the UK is less of a concern compared to the United States, as both nations reflect on growing incidences of serious drug use. To be able to understand these statistics it is important to consider the initial triggers of drug use and this may begin to unravel to reasoning behind addiction.
The reasons behind drug addiction depend often on an addicts social and economic situation. The access and reasons for drug use though varies greatly. For those in poor economic situations, escaping debt, unemployment or homelessness, drugs become a means of covering up problems. This side of addiction festers in those who are looking for ways to escape the harsh realities of their world and such reliance on drugs is an outlet, a temporary relief from their pains and troubles of life. This is needless to say that drug addiction simply begins within these struggling underprivileged communities.
The extreme opposite situation shows how addiction can begin as casual drug use within well off upper classes of society is on the rise, ultimately leading to more consequential addiction. Within socialite gatherings the pressure to take drugs becomes a driving force, as smoking weed is seen as, as socially acceptable as enjoying a glass of wine. Those with addiction within these well off backgrounds often start using for similar reasons to those from troubled backgrounds, a need to escape their reality and find meaning in their lives.
Here addiction appears to be a social norm, peer pressure and the need for acceptance within a certain social circle appears to be what begins addiction in these cases. However we cant assume drug addiction is only apparent in isolated cases, that of the homeless resorting to a heroine addiction or rich kids getting high for fun. Addiction is something that can begin from an early age, and children who are exposed to a generational dependency on drugs are more likely to use as adults themselves. An addiction in later life can develop for genetic reasons (the body becoming dependent on addiction of the parents from birth) or more obviously from environmental reasons, that drug use becomes a witnessed part of everyday life.
There are no definitive answers for the causes of addiction but it is clear that there are several factors that can influence drug use and stimulating addiction. Whether this be economic deprivation, medical conditions, the pressure from a social drug culture or parental influence there evidently many ways in which people can become addicts. If we can begin to understand the reasons why an addict becomes an addict it must become easier to understand how to treat the problem itself. Prevention and rehabilitation are the ways forward to curb addiction. Education not only about drugs themselves but the signs of addiction will ensure that people who need it will seek the help they need. Yet to be able to treat addiction with the respect it needs the social stigma surrounding the issues of treatment and rehab needs to be revoked, and addiction must be treated as a serious medical condition for which it is.
This guest post was provided by Stanley Martinson. Stanley has a myriad of interests but has recently been compelled to write about drug addiction as well as drug rehab, for more info on this subject, read here.