Epidemic USA: The Perilous Disease of Addiction is an epidemic not only in the United States, but also in every nation of the world. Addictions can cause physical, emotional, relational, mental, and spiritual pain. It is a battle that too many individuals are fighting, and the struggle is very real.
First of all, it is important to understand exactly what addiction is. Addiction is defined as having a dependence on a substance, thing, or activity. Whereas, a habit is an action manifested by choice, addiction is a condition in which the addict has virtually no control over his or her own actions. It is wise to be careful when developing bad habits, however, because habits can easily turn into addictions.
Addiction is Both Physiological and Psychological
- Physiological addiction occurs when one’s body has become physically dependent on a substance, thing, or activity. When such a person does not have the thing that they crave, his or her body will react in negative ways, commonly known as withdrawals. Namely, some withdrawal symptoms are sweating, increased blood pressure, confusion, and hallucinations.
- Psychological, or emotional, addiction occurs when an individual has an emotional and mental attachment to the thing that they desire. The craving is more than an addict can possibly stand, and they therefore must conform to the urgings of their mind. In reality, it is often not possible to separate physiological and psychosocial addiction; they go hand in hand and work masterfully at enslaving the addict of consideration.
Furthermore, there are several manifestations of addictions. Some examples include the following addictions: work, food, exercise, gambling, sex, surfing the internet, and the most commonly discussed addictions, alcohol and drug consumption. Alcohol and drug addictions are the most dangerous and harmful addictions prevalent in society today. Their effects and destructive capabilities are far-reaching and more common that one would like to believe.
The Risk of Addiction is too Great of a Cost
First, alcohol consumption in and of itself is not the culprit; the culprit is getting into the habit of consuming too much alcohol, thereby allowing the habit an avenue by which to become an addiction. In 2010, there were 25,692 alcohol-induced deaths in the United States alone. This figure is excluding deaths caused by car accidents and homicides. The drunk-driving deaths in 2010 comprised thirty-one percent of all traffic deaths in the country that year. Clearly, alcohol is dangerous and the ramifications of drinking irresponsibly are not to be taken lightly.
It was reported in 2010 that fifty-one percent of adults over eighteen years old are current, regular drinkers. In the best-case scenario, one hundred percent of these individuals consume their alcohol responsibly and in moderation. Realistically, however, this is not the case. Alcohol’s addictive qualities are entirely too powerful to assume that everyone over the age of eighteen is trustworthy in this regard.
It would be beneficial for all members of society to have a general knowledge of how alcohol abuse affects an individual’s physical body and personal life:
- Physical effects are drowsiness, mental confusion, and more serious conditions such as neurological damage, dementia, stroke, neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, gastrointestinal disease, and an increased risk of cancer.
- Emotional effects that may be experienced are depression, mental illness, anxiety, and others. Alcohol is especially dangerous for pregnant women due to the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. In summary, alcohol consumption should be done with absolute integrity and care. The risk of addiction is too great of a cost.
A Major Battle: Our Nation vs. Drug Abuse
Moreover, another major battle this nation fights in terms of addiction is the battle against drug use. Prescription drugs are the most commonly abused type of drug, and they also cause the most drug-induced deaths. Forty-five percent of drug-induced deaths are from prescription drugs, while thirty-nine percent of drug-induced deaths are a result of street drugs like heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine.
In 2007, a survey reported that six percent of the 17-to-25 year-old age group had abused prescription drugs in the last month alone! The statistics regarding street drugs are sufficiently disconcerting, but the implications of prescribing drugs to untrustworthy consumers are downright alarming. With the high accessibility of prescription medications, it is absolutely essential that society be aware of the addiction pitfall that is before them.
Entangled in a Web of Pain and DestructionFinally, history and statistics clarify that addictions to harmful substances are not far out of reach for anyone. For those who may have already become entangled in this web of pain and destruction, there are many helpful inpatient treatment centers. Not only do such centers offer healing from the physical effects of abuse, but also emotional support from a “therapeutic community.” These institutions offer addicts life skills to cope with their addiction once they have left the facility. Hope and help are not far from anyone, but one thing is for certain, addiction is not pleasant company for anyone to keep.