Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 - Addiction on the Rise: Causes, Consequences, and Cures

Name: Kathryn ...
From: Colorado Springs, Colorado
School: UCCS
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Addiction on the Rise: Causes, Consequences, and Cures

Addiction
on the Rise: Causes, Consequences, and Cures

Addiction
comes in many shapes and sizes. People can be addicted to drugs,
exercise, gambling, and the internet. A broad definition of addictive
behaviors is behaviors that are compulsive and provide short-term
pleasure at the expense of more severe and long-term negative
consequences (Deckers, 2014). Addiction occurs when people separate
the experience of pleasure from its evolutionary function and pursue
pleasure as an end rather than a means to an end. Pleasure is an
evolutionary function because it is naturally derived from activities
that sustain life such as eating, drinking, and having sex. Addictive
behaviors can be separated from other behaviors because they share
five key components: mood modification, salience, tolerance,
withdrawal, compulsive use, and relapse (Deckers, 2014).
Unfortunately, due to the disinhibiting effects of social media
algorithms, sensationalist media, and video games, and due to
environmental stress, addiction and addictive behaviors are on the
rise today such that the nation is dealing with an addiction crisis.
The consequences of addiction occur at the individual and societal
level, and addiction therefore must be treated at both levels.

Two
personality traits associated with addiction are sensation seeking
and impulsiveness. Social media algorithms on platforms like YouTube
and Facebook cater to sensation seeking personality styles by
progressively increasing the shock value of content to win views.
Internet addiction aside, when a person is exposed to this
increasingly shocking and sensational content it skews their
perception of reality and lowers their inhibition. Disinhibition is
characterized by reduced social restraint, which is associated with
the tendency to party, gamble, and engage in sexual activities
(Deckers, 2014). All these activities can also potentially become
addictions, and with social media being so widespread and accessible
to a large audience, it is affecting the culture in devastating ways.
Consequences associated with addictions include seeking pleasure at
the expense of interfering with family, social demands, work, and
other leisure activities, as well as needing more and more of the
stimulus to achieve pleasure after building up a tolerance over time.
This need for more can lead to overspending, dopamine depletion,
ruined relationships, and even death depending on the addiction.

Besides
social media, traditional media is known for being sensationalist.
Stories that make it on TV programs and news outlets generally
involve exaggeration. Sex and violence sell, and this can be seen in
other forms of media like video games. This tendency toward
sensationalism further ignites disinhibition in viewers and can
potentially trigger addiction. The younger audience engaging with
contemporary video game media are more apt to experiment, and
experimentation is a key precursor to addiction. Whether the
experimentation involves alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana,
psychotherapeutics, cocaine, hallucinogens, methamphetamines, or
opiates, beginning drug users are more likely to become addicted
because when satiated they underestimate the intensity of future
cravings they will have during a state of drug deprivation (Deckers,
2014).

Addiction
depends on both exposure to an environment that promotes drug use and
on a genetic disposition toward addiction (Deckers, 2014) Genetic
dispositions vary by individual but environmental stress touches all.
Rising stress due to technology changes, a global economy, and
recently a worldwide pandemic contributes to the current addiction
crisis by creating a hostile environment. Stress results when life
demands exceed available coping resources either because the demand
is too great or the resources are inadequate (Lazarus & Folkman,
1984). To remedy the addiction crisis, it is necessary to reduce the
environmental stress on a societal level and individual level. Rapid
changes in technology and the market could be accompanied by
increases in education and resources, especially for older
populations who feel they cannot keep up and may be more at risk of
developing addictions to cope with negative feelings. Society could
respond to environmental stress with increased education and
resources, while individuals could respond to stress with moderator
variables, which are characteristics of the environment or of the
person that alter the relationship between stressors and stress
(Deckers, 2014). Moderator variables that help people weather
stressors are positive appraisal, high social support,
non-procrastination, good sense of humor, and high hardiness.
Cultivating appropriate societal and individual responses are
imperative in the battle against the rising addiction crisis and its
consequences.

Addiction
is on the rise and is not currently being addressed effectively. It
is addressed narrowly and briefly and shrouded in stigma. It may be
covered in one module of a high school health class and pertain to
psychoactive drugs only. Students are not learning that addiction
spans many behaviors outside of drugs, that addiction is a process
that begins with experimentation and underestimation, or that there
are healthy alternatives to coping with stress and negative emotions.
Addressing addiction correctly calls for a change in approach. It
calls for an increase in education on addiction itself and on the
influence of sensational culture and media. It calls for discussions
on environmental stress and stigma reduction. Finally, it calls for
an increased awareness of individual coping strategies. Addressing
addiction in these ways will dampen the current crisis that is
adversely affecting individuals and society.

References

Deckers,
L. (2014).
Motivation:
biological, psychological, environmental
(4th
ed.). Muncie, IN: Pearson.

Lazarus,
R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984).
Stress,
appraisal, and coping
.
New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, Inc.


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Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 - Addiction on the Rise: Causes, Consequences, and Cures
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