Managing addiction in these modern times requires a different level of perspective.
We are currently facing some of the greatest threats to the existence and survival of our human population. Addiction is among these threats. Compared to the state of addiction decades ago, Rethinking Addiction today has reached an all-time high, with millions of people battling addiction.
By exploring addiction in a modern-day context, we’ll know how best to treat addiction and support those struggling with it. So, let us look deeper and try to understand what is addiction in the modern world.
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Addiction in the Modern Society
The concept of addiction has evolved over the centuries, particularly with the introduction of new scientific research that’s provided us with a better understanding of the nature of addiction.
Long ago, people held a flawed perception of addiction. Most perceived it as an outcome of failed moral character and a lack of self-control. Individuals with addiction were defamed for being “morally dysfunctional”. They were exposed to treatment cures which many of us today would view as inhumane for individuals who need genuine help.
Rethinking Addiction to substances such as narcotic drugs was seen as something that only affected people belonging to the upper-class level.
Fast forward to today when substance addiction has made its way to people from all class levels in society.
As the years evolved, so did the perception of addiction.
What Is Addiction?
Modern research in these present times has made people understand addiction as an acute brain disease that takes over an individual’s brain system and willpower. This is what happens with all forms of addictions.
Addiction today is not just limited to alcohol, hard drugs, and prescription medicines.
There’s a dramatic rise in the number of people battling behavioral addictions such as:
- Social media addiction
- Gambling addiction
- Shopping addiction
- Video games addiction
- Pornography addiction
- Work addiction
- Food addiction
- Sex addiction
We should approach other addictions the same way we approach substance addiction. All addictions have serious consequences if a person doesn’t get help.
At this point in time, we can’t consider addiction as an outcome of poor morals. Viewing addiction as an illness, just like diabetes, will ensure the widespread use of evidence-based practices to treat people battling addiction.
We must treat all addictions as any other chronic condition
If we look at addiction from a deeper perspective, we’d gain insights into its three-fold nature:
- The environmental aspect of addiction — For example, environmental influences such as stressful home environment or media influences
- The biological aspect of addiction — This aspect includes the pathophysiology of addiction whereby the brain’s dopamine system adapts to substance intake
- The genetic aspect of addiction —This aspect includes the genetic traits that make individuals more vulnerable to addiction.
Although addiction may have a genetic foundation, environmental and biological stimuli are the major catalysts for addiction in the modern-day context.
Every addiction alters the user’s brain chemistry, leading to the individual adopting physical dependence behaviors. For this reason, addiction needs both pharmacological and behavioral treatment interventions. The focus must not be purely on the use of medication to manage the physiological aspect of the addiction.
Behavioral interventions introduce individuals with addiction to healthy coping mechanisms.
Ensuring that behavioral treatment interventions are part of the equation will provide individuals battling addiction with a clear understanding of how their thoughts and addictive behaviors interact, and the positive ways they can change this interaction.
Treating Addiction Holistically Is the Way to Go
To address addiction effectively, we must adopt a holistic approach. This means going beyond simply treating the symptoms to include analyzing the deep-seated triggers that worsen the individual’s addiction struggles.
Addiction does not just affect a person’s physical wellbeing — it also affects other important wellbeing aspects such as psychological and spiritual wellbeing, all of which influence overall health.
As research shows, a holistic approach is the best way to make individuals achieve wholesome recovery.
There’s a need to get to the root cause of an individual’s addiction
In these current times, the stigma of addiction still runs deep. The use of stigmatizing language to address addiction creates the idea that those battling addiction willfully engages in the addictive habits when in a real sense, they’ve lost the willpower to say no.
Extending compassion and sensitivity to individuals with addiction will go a long way in boosting the addiction recovery outcomes.
Stigmatization only pushes people to drop out of Rethinking Addiction treatment or brush aside the idea of seeking treatment.
It’s saddening that people still feel they can’t disclose their addiction struggles or history for fear of being victimized. To fight the persistent stigma, we need to normalize addiction talks and the addiction recovery process.
We Must Give Addiction a Deeper Look
The rates of addiction today are higher than they were decades ago. We must address addiction holistically to achieve a powerful addiction recovery community.
If we’re not careful with our choice of words when addressing Rethinking Addiction in these modern times, we will end up (without realizing it) closing the door on people who genuinely need our help.