Name: Jesus Eduardo Zepeda Castro
From: Gilbert, AZ
Who is to blame for America’s addiction crisis? Maybe it is you. Maybe it is me. Maybe it’s them or maybe it is us. As humans we are creatures of habit and when good habits are fostered virtues are born. In fact, 40 percent of our actions are not conscious decisions (theworldcounts.com). Interestingly enough Merriam-Webster defines the word addiction as “a compulsive, chronic, physiological, or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects…”. Addiction is what occurs when we develop poor coping habits. Some addictions are much more severe and detrimental to our health. To answer a question such as “As a nation why are we dealing with an addiction crisis?” it may be helpful to analyze what we value as a nation and what we are fed by the media on a daily basis. In this nation we value appearance, emotions over truth, and instant gratification.
The problem of addiction starts and ends at home. A child who is taught to deal with their emotions and not simply seek comfort is one that is less likely to succumb to life altering addictions such as gambling, alcohol, drugs, food, and pornography. The reason we seek things such as gambling, alcohol, drugs, and pornography is that they comfort us, they provide us with a temporary escape, they flood our brains with chemicals that make us feel like everything is okay instead of dealing with what is happening in life. If children are taught to “do what their heart desires” and to do whatever makes them feel better what are we really saying? Why are we not taught to do what IS right instead of what FEELS right? Why are we taught to do what is convenient instead of what is correct? Why are we taught to avoid suffering at all costs? Why are we afraid of suffering? Breaking bad habits and forming good ones is painful. But what is more painful, dealing with an addiction or forming good habits? What is more painful raising children with discipline and teaching them delayed gratification or seeing their life be destroyed by addictions? Suffering is part of life. Everyone suffers and if as a society we want to completely eliminate pain as if it didn’t exist, we will never make progress. By doing this we are not really curing the wound we are just treating the symptoms. What good is it to put a band-aid on a wound if it is infected? We must be better at teaching how to suffer, that suffering is not always bad, and be able openly talk about our suffering and lean on one another through our times of suffering. If everything we see, especially in social media is people who look happy and don’t have a care in the world, if we are taught to act on feeling and not reason, how are we supposed to know that suffering is a reality of humanity and not something that will cease to exist but something we must learn to deal with? It would be foolish of me to say that our inability to teach emotional strength is the only component to our addiction problem but addictions are the unhealthy way of coping with our suffering.
If we continue down this path, I wouldn’t find it surprising if we resembled the dystopian society imagined by Aldous Huxley in his book Brave New World in my opinion, we already resemble it to a frightening degree. Do take into consideration that Aldous wrote this book in 1931 and his predictions of the world have been quite accurate. In this dystopian world there is no pain, people are high at all times because they must not feel any negative emotions. They must not feel anger or sadness. There is no pain and no suffering but there is also no true beauty.
To solve our addiction problem one of the things we must do is learn and teach how to suffer. Learn and teach how to be mentally strong. And when I say learn and teach how to suffer, I am not referring to holding our pain in and acting like nothing is happening. I mean that we must learn and teach how to deal with our emotions and how to express those emotions. I am also not saying that we should stop trying to end things such as world hunger and disease and war. What I am saying is we have to learn how to deal with our emotions when difficult situations arise because that is when we are most susceptible to seeking comfort in a self-destructive habit.
On an individual level the consequences for people who suffer from addictions are typically a miserable life or death. However, it does not have to be this way. By helping spread addiction awareness and helping people who suffer with addiction we can change this reality. Firstly, by supporting them and having a nonjudgmental mind willing to listen to them and secondly by helping them get into a quality rehabilitation center. Following rehab, it is important to help them stay the course of living a sober and more fulfilling life. That is what we can do in the present to help minimize the current effect but like I mentioned, our future will not change unless we treat the disease and not just the symptoms.
Addiction is a very difficult societal and personal issue that directly affects essentially all of us as we all have some sort of addiction whether conscious or unconscious. However, those suffering the most are the ones with extremely harmful addictions such as drugs, pornography, alcohol, gambling, etc. and their families. This is not a problem that will be solved in a short amount of time but it is a problem that can be solved if we all take a look inside of ourselves and for one second stop running away from the painful truth and just deal with it. We must face our fears, face our wounds. They cannot be the controllers of our lives. We must protect ourselves and strengthen ourselves so that we know how to deal with our emotions and not seek comfort in vice when we are suffering. The only thing we can control is our disposition towards life and therefore change starts with us.
“Habits Shape Your Life!” The World Counts, www.theworldcounts.com/happiness/psychology-of-habits.