Facing up to addiction is hard.
Society doesn’t look kindly on anyone who might have an addiction, even though the majority of the population is using substances in one form or another.
It often comes down to an unspoken hazy line. You know the one. In fact you’ve probably crossed it at some point in your life. It’s the line between being in control and not. It’s the point when someone goes from being in control of the substance to the substance being in control of them. And that doesn’t just apply to substances like alcohol, it also applies to prescription medications. If you are dependent over a long period on a painkiller to get through the day then the substance is in control.
When someone crosses ‘the line’, there’s a misdirected perception by society that there is something inherently wrong with that person. They must have some flaw that the rest of us don’t… not enough willpower, not enough self-discipline. These kinds of assumptions can create a divide where people on one side of ‘the line’ can feel good about themselves for not being thus flawed and people on the other side are shamed for said flaw.
Everyone is addicted
The thing with addiction is everyone has it. That device which you can’t take your eyes off and would induce intense separation anxiety if it were to go missing? Yes that is an addiction, and it has a huge percentage of the world’s population in its grip.
Hold on, devices don’t change people’s behaviour in the same way that alcohol or cocaine does though. Actually they do!
Research by Dr. Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University has shown strong links between time spent on screens and depression and suicidality in teens.
Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex, devices, gambling, relationships or spiritual experiences, the brain can’t tell the difference. The same dopamine reward system is activated.
Addiction is a beast that progresses slowly. And it affects everyone in one form or another. Which is why it’s time to reconsider our attitudes towards ‘addicts’ and reframe the conversation so that it includes everyone, not just us and them. It’s time for a little compassion for those who have a more obvious addiction to a substance, because we’re all in the same boat.