In 1938, B. F. Skinner, an American Psychologist described a pattern of learning that takes place through rewarding a certain behavior or withholding reward for undesirable behavior called Operant Conditioning. It seems to be the way through which our learning systems are often governed. Our actions are either positively or negatively reinforced by the rewards we get from them, determining the repetition or banning of such acts. Thus, “what we do is almost always determined by what we get.” This rule applies to everybody that has any form of habit (a repeated act/lifestyle); but what keeps us “sane” is our ability to stop at will, which is lost in addicts. Now, one of the beauties of a fulfilling life is ‘Self Control’; the grace to wield your sword of choices and express your “will power”, as whoever lacks them is adjudged to be enslaved! “…For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” 2Peter 2: 19(ESV)
Infact, Addiction is said to be characterized by:
- Inability to consistently abstain;
- Impairment in behavioral control;
- Craving or increased “hunger” for drugs or rewarding experiences;
- Diminished recognition of significant problemswith one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships; and
- A dysfunctional emotional response.
Thus, Addiction is described as a medical condition characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding a stimulus, even though they come with adverse consequences.
Psychology today further described it as the search for emotional satisfaction—for a sense of security, a sense of being loved, even a sense of control over life. But the gratification is temporary and illusory, and the behavior results instead in greater self-disgust, reduced psychological security, and poorer coping ability.
Neurologists say addiction occurs due to increased induction in genetic expression in the brain, as it rewards sensitization through positive reinforcement, while decreasing sensitivity to aversion/negativity. Thus, most of the addictive substances or acts are morally, religiously or legally right when regularized, as some are truly therapeutically prescribed, but come with risk of addiction or sometimes dependence with long-term use, which is when the negativity tend to start.
Few examples of addictive substances or acts include:
- ALCOHOL: Destructive, but yet legal. Discussions tend to have being about the frequency and quantity of intake, rather than abstinence except in specific medical conditions, some medication prescriptions, moral, cultural and religious beliefs. Although it is often used as a preservative and also said to be “cardio-protective” in limited intake, WHO reports that alcohol is accountable for about 60 medical conditions, including esophageal cancer, liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, epilepsy, murder, motor-vehicle accidents, cardiovascular diseases, etc. Also, increased consumption of alcohol has been concomitant with increase in violence, child abuse, spouse abuse, work negligence, broken marriages, etc. Statistics shows that about 2billion people worldwide have alcohol problems, while 1.8million die from alcohol-related problems annually, but yet new liquor shops open daily, as there is increased demand.
- TOBACCO: All cigarette adverts read, “Smokers are liable to die young”, yet tobacco, also legal, still ranks first substance causing most health damage worldwide, as indicated in most lung diseases, heart diseases, cancers, amongst others. About 1.3 billion annual deaths are caused by tobacco addiction. In 2002, WHO reported that smoking caused over 90% of the lung cancer cases in men and 70% of the cases of lung cancer in women, 56-80% of the cases of chronic respiratory diseases and 22% of the cases of cardiovascular disease. Tobacco smoking seem more disturbing as statistics have shown non-smoking passively inhalers (family members, neighbours, friends and passersby) to be about 5times at risk than the smokers. Despite all the above mentioned adverse effects of tobacco, it is still increasingly revealed that tobacco use is rising worldwide and is expected to cause about 10 million annual deaths by 2020 and about 70% of those deaths will occur in developing countries.
- DRUGS: are probably the most widely-acclaimed form of addiction and within my little time in this career path, I have seen lives altered, rendered useless and ended on account of drug use. These drugs include both prescription medications and illegal drugs, whose use are both on the rise. The prescription medications are mainly therapeutic, but some come with risk of addiction/dependence on a long-term use. Examples of such drugs include cannabis, cocaine, heroin, methadone, methamphetamines, PCP, LSD etc. About 185million people were reported to be illegal drug users in 1990.
Few of the effects of drug addiction include:
- Impaired cognitive development, as the ability to reason, to be creative and thoughtful falls. They also experience Amotivational Syndrome, which is explained as being non-motivated to do anything or achieve anything other than siting all day and smoking or using the addictive drugs, which also explains the experienced impaired physical performance, although, they may seem to be hyperactive at first, following euphoria, but never towards a productive goal.
- Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.
- Respiratory system depression, which is described as the suppression of the areas in the brain that control respiration (Respiratory centres), resulting in apnea (prolonged cessation of breathing) or respiratory failure, which puts addicted individual at risk of death, if not immediately rescued.
- Central nervous system depression, causing incoordination in thoughts, in words, in movement and also restlessness.
- Hypertension, following chronotropic and ionotropic effects on the heart and blood vessels, which can also cause cardiac arrest, sudden cardiac arrest and Seizures.
- Hallucinations: Auditory (commoner) or visual hallucinations, as they hear or see things neither heard nor seen by others, thus, talking or laughing “unconventionally”. Also, they sometimes feel “bugs” moving beneath their skin, called Tactile Formication, and they end up scratching their bodies all over.
- It can permanently impair memory and mind, exacerbate schizophrenia, cause bronchial damage and impair fetal development in pregnant women.
Heroin users face 20 to 30 times higher risk of death than non-drug users and the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis B, C and D, due to sharing of syringe and needles, used in infusing some of the substances.
- GAMBLING: Gambling with salaries, possessions, and even certificates seems to have being in existence for ages, as it comes in disguise of “profiting from little”, but history presents us with even more heart-wrecking stories than profiting results. Gambling addiction is apparently on the rise, partly due to accessibility and partly due to a change in acceptability, as gambling opportunities are available in every corner store and on the internet. It’s sanctioned by the government and is a source of income for humanitarian social programs. Examples include:
- National lottery and scratch cards
- Football pools, like Nairabet, etc.
- Other lotteries and raffles, etc.
- FOOD: Compulsive binge eating is more reported as a form of food addiction, which increases the risk of obesity, hypertension, heart failure, diabetes mellitus type II, polycystic ovarian syndrome, amenorrhea, etc. But also, eating disorders include anorexia nervosa (they do not eat) and Bulimia (they eat, but induce vomiting), solely because of the fear of adding fat or weight, even when they don’t have any. These come with a risk of undernutrition, loss of weight, gingival hyperplasia, esophageal tearing, muscle waste, infertility, amenorrhea, etc.
Many of the eating disorders that exist today may be due to the abundance of food available and its mostly unhealthy nature. Media advertisements, the fast-food culture, along with conflicting messages about unattainable and unrealistic ideas of body shape cause many to engage in dysfunctional eating habits that can lead to food addictions.
- WORK: Japanese word “Karachi” means “death from overwork”, as about 10,000 people die yearly from putting in too many hours at work. The spread of a consumer culture across the globe contributes to this drive to earn more money one can as lots of money becomes linked to status and self-identity.
Although “over-work” is assumed to be a positive characteristic but in reality, it destroys the relationships of many, as many families have been broken and health worsened from “excessive commitment” to work. Proper prioritization is always encouraged.
- Other forms of addiction include Video games, Internet, Sex, Shopping, Caffeine, etc.
RISK FACTORS FOR ADDICTION
ü Age: Adolescence represents a period of unique vulnerability for developing addiction. Not only are adolescents more likely to initiate and maintain drug use, but once addicted they are more resistant to treatment and more liable to relapse.
ü Adverse Childhood Experiences: Children’s neurological development can be disrupted when they are chronically exposed to stressful events such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, witnessing violence in the household, or a parent being incarcerated or suffering from a mental illness
ü Depression, as people get fed up with their incessant trials not yielding what they desire, potentially looking for a way of consolation, thus, yielding to addiction, that provides temporary satisfaction.
Depression is a product of the frustrating discrepancies between your subconscious true idea of “who you should be” and “who you presently are”; glaringly deviating, both are still true!
ü Genetic factors: Evidences abound that addiction could have a genetic existence, as being observed in some families, although family histories of addicts potentially make an addict, since our environmental structures tend to partly determine your choices.
ü Psychiatric conditions that require the addictive drugs as prescriptions
ü Behavioural Therapy
Probably wondering why some of these addictive substances are still in circulation when they carry so much threat to humanity?
- Some are therapeutically used to manage other medical conditions, but come with their own side effects, further confirming that there is no “ideal drug” (drug without side effects). They tend to become addictive with long-term use.
- They are economically beneficial. Some of them are a great source of income to the government and keeps the economy rolling. It probably seems like the government is feeding on their citizens’ dwindling health, but they keep warning! It is ours to make choices.
- Even many health professionals are addicted to something, a perfect example of addiction: even when you know the truth, you just cannot control yourself!
In conclusion, Idolatry is spiritually synonymous to Addiction, as the addict tends to be under control of something else and not God! God hates Idolatry!
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.Colossians 3:5(ESV)
Always ensure you retain your ability to say “No”! If you observe you’re being passive with any act that comes with no specific control, even, if good or right, I will encourage that we “occasionally deliberately defile the flow” to ensure you still have your power to say No!
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything…2Corinthians 6:12(ESV)
Written by :’Boluwaji Lasehinde firstname.lastname@example.org