Name: John Solomon Inyang
From: Calabar, Cross River State
Addiction and the World
Why do you Believe we as a Nation are Dealing with an Addiction Crisis? What are the Consequences of this Addiction for the Individual and Society? How can we remedy the Crisis on Both the Individual and Societal Level?
Before any problem incites national concern, it must have over-grown from a point or place where it could have been stopped. I believe we are probably dealing with addiction crises as a nation because we have neglected the simplest unit that could stop or reduce addiction—our family. The failure of the family unit and capitalism at its worst. Addiction is not limited to drugs alone, though drugs and alcohol addictions are the most common forms of addiction, but it includes all other degenerative acts or habits that are capable of hampering a person’s life, career, or goal. Hence, the consequences of this addiction on the individual and society and the possible solutions to it could be the reason why most government entrust so much funds to make public education a universal programme.
Lots of stress, open use of legal stimulants as recreation, endemic loss of hope or direction across all age groups and areas of the society, little opportunities and free choice limited by socioeconomic conditions of extended financial pressure and the slowing of social mobility. I think so, there seem to be quite a few “stress relievers” used by the public; I suspect that people would find it very difficult to give up if prompted. Daily and weekly drinks come to mind to the point that people make an even of giving up for a month. That is before we look at the research conducted on smartphone deprivation causing an enormous leap in physiological symptoms of anxiety. The crux of the matter is that people do not seem to have a grasp of keeping a positive mental health and rely on external factors to the point of dependence; if you qualify this as addiction, with acknowledgement of the difficulty and neurobiological changes that occur with use, yes I would say most people are addicted to something. There are more alcohol, exercise, food, and technology addicts out there—I would guess—than is known. If it is on a scale that is known of causing massive impact, is it a crisis? This could certainly address why people need so many crutches I suppose. I do not write this as an outsider, I adore my phone.
While addiction is not limited to drug alone, drugs and alcohol addictions have the highest damaging potential on an individual and society—to the point of drawing global concern—hence, my focus on drugs. The two most addictive and statistically harmful drugs, alcohol and nicotine, are legal and we live in a time of their over-abundance and indulgence. It is important to note that most addicts usually deny or are not aware that they have a problem. At the initial stage, addiction gives what an individual may perceive as a positive effect so they simply feel or believe that they can quit the habit at any time but addiction can quickly take over a person’s life. For an individual, addiction can result to mental, physical, and social consequences; since addiction is a chronic illness, its effects touch every facet of a person’s life. When left untreated, it can unravel lives and cause untold harm. Overtime, if drug use continues, other pleasurable activities become less pleasurable and the person has to take the drugs just to feel “normal”. Such a person has a hard time controlling the need to take drugs even though it causes many problems for themselves and their loved ones. Some people may start to feel the need to take more of a drug or take it more often, even in the early stages of their addictions. These are the telltale signs of an addiction.
The most common observable result of addiction is behavioural and cognitive changes. People with drug addiction tend to display personality shifts, moving from sedation to excitability and back again with speed. They may suffer from a mental drug disorder because drug can change how the brain works. All drugs—nicotine, cocaine, marijuana and others—affects the brain’s “reward circuit”, an area of the brain that controls instinct and mood. Have you ever seen an intelligent and active student break down suddenly and become stupid? It is a direct consequence of addiction because addiction can gradually or abruptly degrade the brain of the individual involved resulting to problems with memory, attention and decision-making which can make daily living more difficult. In fact, alcohol and drugs are partly to blame in an estimated 80% of offenses leading to jail time in most countries. These incidents include domestic violence, unintentional injuries, accidents caused by driving while intoxicated and offenses leading to damaged property.
Furthermore, drug addictions are associated with a wide range of short and long-term health effects. It can impact almost every organ in the human body. It can weakened immune system increasing the risk of illness, infection, and heart conditions ranging from abnormal heart attacks to collapsed veins and blood vessel infections from injected drugs, nausea and abdominal pain which can also lead to changes in appetite and weight loss, increased strain on the liver, stroke, lung disease and the most severe and life threatening consequence—death. So the sad truth is that more deaths, illness and disabilities are caused by addition than by any other preventable health conditions. Rather than remaining isolated only to the addict, there is a far ranging ripple effect that can touch anyone who is close to the addict. Since individuals make up the society, if this affects many people, the resulting effect on the society is high rate of mortality, slow progress, and development. Because no addict can reasonably hold or take responsibilities, hence, employment is reduced and the society might also record high or increased immoral sexual behaviour resulting from the influence of addition. Since many addicts lose their jobs, crime rate may increase in the society as many addicts would resolve to steal to survive and to also feed their desire. The number of homeless people in the society is also on the rise putting strain on social amenities. Because if families can no longer bear any addict among them, they usually just give up and disown them. Again, home owners would not like to house any addict to avoid further trouble. So the society is just becoming unsafe and unstable leading to decrease in prosperity and overall development.
In the fight against addiction, what is overlooked is that many addictions are also a large source of cash flow for many large institutions including pharmaceutical stakeholders and alcohol producers so most times they do not give a cure neither do they proffer any solution but just sell pills so their addicts can check in again and again. It is a multi-faceted and very complex issue but when you peel the back layers you discover all addictions where introduced in one way or the other in a form of consumerism. With regards to illicit drugs, I think the “war on drugs” has a lot to answer for. For the individual, criminalizing drug use and addition does not help, the fear of being reprimanded surely prevent people from getting help. Drug use and alcohol should be treated as a medical issue and taken away from the hands of criminal gangs who seek to entrench communities in addiction to line their own pockets. Alcohol addiction and binge drinking is also a problem at the opposite end of the spectrum but it seems it is not criminalized but normalized within the “British drinking culture”. Supports for addicts should be made in a way that would not make them feel embarrassed to seek for help. At the societal level, we live in a judgmental society; there is a lack of help or support in mental health resources and the fact that some people do not even know that there is help is very sad. Hence, awareness campaigns should be made so the victims can be aware of the help available to them. Many people who suffer from mental illness as a result of addiction are often told that “they are faking it to get attention” or that “it is not a real illness” this trend further deters people from seeking help when they need it. It is important that we educate ourselves on what addiction illness are, the signs, and how to provide help and remove the harmful language surrounding addiction. Also, huge support should be given to families to prevent the younger ones from going the same way in a bid to escape the realities of life. This can be done by funding NGOs directed towards solving the problem.