Addiction … Is Our Culture To Blame

I am honestly tired of hearing about the opiate epidemic, this is an Addiction Epidemic! Right now the substance may be opioids, but we have seen this crisis in waves of different types before. Crack was a major epidemic, alcohol has be abused for decades. Currently, there is in increased in alcohol related cirrhosis deaths!

The most pronounced increase between 2009 and 2016 was a 10.5 percent rise each year in cirrhosis deaths among people 25 to 34 years old, mainly driven by heavy alcohol consumption, researchers report in The BMJ.

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It is time that we look at addiction as it is, a mental illness.

According to the DSM-5, a “substance use disorder describes a problematic pattern of using alcohol or another substance that results in impairment in daily life or noticeable distress.” As with most addiction problems, despite any consequences a person who has a problem with either alcoholism or drugs suffers, they will generally continue to use their drug of choice.. Read more.

During a Town Hall at Baldwin High School, we listened to Dr. Brophy pose the question “Who Is To Blame?”. One part of this section was Our Culture.

Our Culture

I have thought about this a lot and I am sure many others have as well. We know so much about how this epidemic progressed, but have you thought about the culture that we live in?

Children grow up around substance use, yes alcohol is a substance. Alcohol is a regular part of many daily activities and often becomes a focal point. We hear about waiting for the weekend to go out and “party”. We see drinking at amusement parks and other family locations. Our children grow up where alcohol flows very freely for all kinds of occasions.

Stop and think about it. How many places do you go where alcohol is often a prominent part of the event. I think of amusement parks that are geared towards our young adults that are NOT drinking age and they have “beer gardens“. I also think of places that are geared for children that adults would not go without their children and they have bars in the establishments. This is part of our culture. This is what our children are seeing.

Children observe everything, you may not think they are, but they see it. They notice it all. We live in a society that drinking and taking prescription medicines are normal. We don’t want to tolerate pain of any kind it seems.

So, are we really surprised when our teenagers or younger now are experimenting with substances? They see if every day in some form. Our culture provides a perception that drinking is part of growing up.

I have done this, I know I have. I choose not to drink now. We don’t include alcohol in events that we plan. We do go to events that have alcohol still, but now, my kids see that drinking is not that normal activity that some see it as.

I think it is important that we look at all of the “whys”, and our culture is one of the reasons we are seeing more people struggling with addiction. We have to remember that many people who suffering addiction also suffer from other mental illnesses. So the combination can be catastrophic.

How do you feel the our culture relates to the Addiction Epidemic? Please leave a comment.

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