For many of us, when we think of the ‘addicted’ street druggy, or pill popper – or alcoholic – we think of welfare receiving do nothings who have made it their life’s work (by personal choice) to be a drain on society. After all, in a world where we know so much about the awful side effects of drugs – any smart or decent person would know better, right?
We don’t think about the housewife living in suburbia, with exactly 3.1 children – in the $350,000 cookie cutter home driving a minivan as someone who could be addicted to meth or painkillers. We don’t imagine the six figure earning corporate executive on a fast track to wealth and fame could be smoking pot or snorting cocaine. Moreover, we certainly don’t imagine that favorite kindergarten teacher who your child adored or the church choir leader – or your son’s baseball coach could be ever harboring an addiction to marijuana. Yet according to up and coming research from multiple health and science agencies – the most likely candidates to try new drugs are middle to upper class, educated white folks. Science News Daily published a report in April 2011, which classified middle and upper class employed and educated people to be one of the most ‘at risk’ sociological groups for drug addiction.
When you look at the figures, and if you were to look inside the private lives of people that you might never suspect as addicts, you would be alarmed at the fact that the addictions know no boundaries.
Certainly, certain sociological conditions such as poverty, and family influence play a large role in making a person at risk for exposure to drugs and subsequent drug addiction. Yet, with illegal substances being so readily available in all economic groups – the white male from suburbia who plays on the football team has just as a high a chance as the young black male ‘from the hood’ to become a drug addict.
Among illegal natural and manmade drugs – a new and posing problem leading to drug addiction is the ease of access to painkillers and psychotic medications. In the United States, pain management and diet centers are popping up in nearly every strip mall, regardless of economic demographics – pushing feel good products to nearly any one who will come in and buy them.
In addition to drug addicts and alcoholics, there are increasing amounts of middle and upper class sex addicts being diagnosed on a yearly basis. Gambling, despite the fact that it is illegal in many areas is and always has been – an addiction known to the most unsuspecting of people. There is also a 2 out of 10 chance that the woman leading the household in your neighbor’s house is binge eating, addicted to exercise or on the brink of anorexia.
According to the dictionary, ADDICTION is defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice, or to something that is physically or psychologically habit forming, to the extent that its cessation causes psychological trauma.”
How do your react without your morning coffee? Do you get anxious or nervous thinking about just the thought of giving up cigarettes or wine? If you were unable to exercise, or check Facebook for an entire week or month – would you, experience some level of psychological trauma?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, which the American Academy of Psychology believes afflicts 2 out of every 3 people in one way, shape or form – is the cornerstone of addicted behavior. It is easy for any of us to sit back in judgment of the meth addict, or alcoholic – when we ourselves are likely addicted to one thing or another in our own lives. When the addiction is to something harmful, it can pose major problems in your life. When the addiction is something that is illegal, or outwardly accepted as negative such as pain pills, cigarettes or street drugs – it is easy to jump on the bandwagon of judgment towards another person’s behavior and ‘perceived choice,’ in their lives. Nevertheless, when the addiction is to something that is either socially accepted yet nonetheless destructive to the individual, we tend to label it as something else and are more compassionate.
The human mind is the strongest feature of humanity. The stronghold that our minds have on habits in our lives is definitely a force to be reckoned with. When you get down to the basics, nearly every single one of us has one addiction or another. Getting help and breaking free from the often-illogical stranglehold that our addictions have on us emotionally, physically and psychologically is one of the most difficult feats to master for human beings. Most sociologists and psychologists believe that our tendency to ‘addict’ to things in our lives cannot be completely broken, and that the first step is to upgrade our addictions to something healthier and wiser. For instance if you want to break an addiction to nicotine, you almost need to find a replacement habit in order to be successful.
Take a look around. Whitney Houston, who had nearly every single reason to be happy in life – overdosed and died due to an addiction. Your neighbor or colleague may be harboring an addiction of some sort as well. Moreover, chances are YOU have some addictions of your own. Hopefully, as a society we can move away from the stereotypes in life of who is a potential addict and who isn’t so that each and every person will have the opportunity to heal, or at least trade their negative habit in for something less damaging.