Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Doped-Up Nation: How America Became a Country of Addicts

From AlterNet:

Consider the following: Roughly one in ten Americans is currently an illicit drug user; nearly one quarter of American adults engage in binge drinking, many on a regular basis; and the majority of those with problem drug or alcohol use do not seek treatment for their problems.

Now, if we broaden the criteria that we use in thinking about addiction to include unhealthy coping mechanisms and other “ways-to-get-through-the-day”—we face staggering results. For one, most Americans have lost their ability to eat normally, with two-thirds of the nation’s adults meeting the definition of obese. As another example, approximately one out of every five American women is on an anti-depressant. I recently signed up with a new primary care physician. When she found out that I’m a psychologist, she asked me “Why is every kid in New York on Ritalin, and every adult taking Ambien?”

It’s an excellent question.

How is it that we’ve wrapped ourselves in the fuzzy dopamine blanket of substance misuse, prescription medication, compulsive eating, celebrity worship, compulsive shopping, internet addiction, video gaming, and compulsive sexual behavior?

More here.

As a society, we tend to think of the "drug problem" as something unto itself, and usually being only about illegal drugs. And we do, indeed, have a drug problem as far as that goes. But expand your understanding of the issue to include legally prescribed pharmaceuticals, to include other kinds of compulsive and destructive behaviors, and it becomes an extraordinarily huge problem, one affecting virtually everybody in society.

Now, add in consideration of what I was saying in yesterday's post about the economically enforced devolution of American society and the undeniable uptick in mass murders and we have what is perhaps the most important problem facing our nation today: capitalism and consumerism are slowly destroying our souls, and we're all behaving in various irrational ways in order to cope.

Of course, the situation causing such irrationality is irrational in itself. One wonders if there's any way out of this downward spiral. Probably not.