Does American Culture Encourage Addiction?

The United States is facing an epidemic of addiction, and our culture may be to blame. Thousands of people check into residential inpatient treatment every year, and millions more are still struggling with drugs and alcohol. Despite negative attitudes towards drug abuse, the problem is growing among people of every demographic. If Americans are ever going to address these concerns, they need to understand the impacts of their customs and attitudes.

Problems with Prescription Drugs

The vast majority of Americans disapprove of drug legalization, yet millions are addicted to prescription medications. Antidepressants, amphetamines, and opiate painkillers are seen as the solution to an incredibly wide variety of ailments, and patients rarely hesitate to take them. They may be legal, but these drugs are just as addictive and dangerous as their illicit counterparts.

Some people are starting to catch on to the dangers of prescription drugs – but they still aren’t nearly as reviled as illegal narcotics. People who vehemently oppose medical marijuana, needle exchanges, and other reformations are often the ones addicted to Oxycontin or Adderall themselves. Overall, the wrongheaded idea that legality indicates safety may actually be contributing to the addiction problem.

The Obesity Epidemic

America’s obesity problem indicates our obsession with instant gratification. Sugar, fast food, and convenience items are the staples in this country, and research has shown that they can be nearly as addictive as drugs and alcohol. And – similar to drug addicts – obese people are often viewed with scorn for their supposed lack of willpower.

The real solution to both of these problems will require a large-scale change in attitude. Everyone needs to understand that true addiction involves far more than personal choice, and that cravings are nearly unavoidable without treatment. People will also need to learn to delay gratification for sake of their mental and physical health.

High-Stress Work Environments

The United States is known for its bustling, industrious economy – but productivity doesn’t always lead to happiness. Americans take far fewer vacations and personal days than people in other first-world countries, and they suffer some of the world’s highest rates of chronic stress and work addiction. High levels of stress are only sustainable for so long, and many people turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.

This problem has become even more sever over the last five years, as the troubled economy has people working around the clock to avoid being laid off. As is often the case during national crises, citizens are responding to the situation with increased drinking and drug use.

Attitudes about the War on Drugs

The Federal Government has been waging its War on Drugs for the last forty years, and the results have been disastrous. However, most Americans still support increasingly harsh policies of prohibition, punishment, and mandatory sentencing. Drug offenders become recidivists due to lack of proper treatment, and the illegal status of drugs allows the black market to thrive.

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There are many reasons for the drug war’s continuation. For-profit prisons, political corruption, and lobbying from the pharmaceutical industry are all to blame. However, what really allows for the perpetuation of destructive policies is the widespread belief that prohibition makes people safe. Americans need to understand that it actually creates more crime, and that drug offenders need rehab – not imprisonment.

Overcoming an addiction is difficult, but you can do it with residential inpatient treatment. If you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol, call the number at the top of your screen now for an immediate, free consultation. We’re standing by around the clock to help you get started on the road to recovery.

About James F. Davis

James F. Davis, CAS, is a Board Certified Interventionist and the founder of Recovery First. Inc. Davis is also an expert on Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) - the leading cause of relapse among addicts and alcoholics. Mr. Davis operates a website dedicated to sufferers of Post Acute Withdrawal, and has published the first-ever survey on the condition. Davis is also the author of two upcoming books on the topics of PAWS and Adult Children of Alcoholics. You can contact Mr. Davis directly via his Google+ Page, via the Facebook page for Recovery First, or by writing to editor@recoveryfirst.org

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