Addiction: Social and Biological Factors
Addiction: Social and Biological Factors
There is so no solid, cut-and-dry answer for the cause of addiction crises. We learn in psychology that there are factors that build upon each other to develop a problem such as addiction and there are treatments to help the diseased minds of the victims institute coping mechanisms, however limited they might be. It is my belief that the cause of addiction is bilateral with social factors on one side and biological factors on the other side. The culmination of both is what results in a crisis that has been exacerbated in the United States in recent years. It starts with children, and when they grow up? It spreads through adulthood.
Starting with the social aspect, drugs and alcohol are widely regarded by adolescents as “cool.” I believe this is because young people feel thwarted in their thoughts and speech so, either consciously or subconsciously, they imitate adults when they are with their peers so that they might feel respect from others. They want to grow up as quickly as possible because then they might be seen and heard. What better way to act as an adult then to smoke, drink, and use “adult” substances? This theory does not pertain to every child, but it just has to start with one and then peer pressure begins. No one should ever underestimate the power of peer pressure because it is potent, resilient, and ever-present all at the same time children are being warned against it. Young people are afraid of feeling isolated and will go to great lengths to be included.
Additionally, drugs and mental illness go hand-in-hand. Growing up, I had a close friend who experienced episodes of psychosis as a child where he would hear voices inside his head. By the time fifth grade rolled around, he was already experimenting with drugs and alcohol to make the voices stop. Instances of psychosis, depression, and anxiety have all been linked to substance abuse. People use them to self-medicate and end up becoming addicted, making their problems worse.
I believe these factors have gotten more prevalent in recent years for two reasons. The first is that genetics are constantly being mixed and each generation has more of a chance to develop mental illness purely based on hereditary traits. The second reason is popular culture. Movies, music, and celebrities are very influential and they affect the minds of both children and adults. People tend to imitate and idolize what and who is popular as a way of gaining some sort of acceptance from others. It is no secret that celebrities often abuse substances as a way of dealing with being in the limelight. In addition to that, movies and music show drug use and alcoholism over and over again in a romanticized fashion. Usually, the abuse is depicted without a show of the consequences or they are glossed over with humor or other such lightheartedness. With the world being so exposed to these substances, without a proper grasp of the consequences at an early age, it is no wonder the nation faces so much addiction.
When addiction is so widespread, it causes people to imitate, and ultimately, suffer. Society is affected because people will copy what they see to be included or as way to avoid something else, and they will end up facing the terrible consequences of addiction. Individually, victims will become beggars or prostitutes as a way to get their next fix because their own money will more than likely not take them very far. They often become violent and untrustworthy; they become liars and thieves. They are shunned from their family and friends and life becomes very bleak for them.
Fixing addiction issues is a slow process on both the societal level and individual level. I believe that alcohol and drugs need to have more realistic portrayals in movies and that media attention needs to shy away from celebrities’ indiscretions and focus on more positive news. I also think that children need to be educated at very young about the consequences of addiction so that they can have it instilled in them before they reach a school grade where substances are offered more freely. If we constantly show the terrifying effects of drug and alcohol abuse, children will begin to associate the substances with negativity and stay away from them. I also believe that children need to have more of a voice to express their concerns and desires. In my opinion, if schools could work with parents on an individual level to make the kids feel heard and provide outlets for them, the outlook on kids saying “no” to drugs and alcohol would have a much happier success rate.