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Your name Your teacher 11/29/12

Addicted America Addiction, noun: the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. The word rolls off the tongue rather easily, does it not? Addiction has been through many stages of development throughout history all over the world, but particularly in America. In the 1920s if you liked to drink a little more than everyone else, or when you were sad, or when you woke up you werent diagnosed with alcoholism and sent to a therapy group every Monday and Wednesday, you were labeled a drunkard by your neighbors, friends, and the other people in your community. It wasnt until 1956 that enjoying being drunk every waking moment of the day was labeled as an illness and then more appropriately renamed in 1966 a disease, and then again in 1991, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared it dually a disease and a psychiatric disorder (American Medical Association). Since the beginning, there has been much controversy over whether or not something that a person willingly chooses to do could really be considered an illness, or a disease, to be compared to those with the likeness of tuberculosis or salmonella poisoning both things a person does not choose to be ailed by (unless of course said person enjoys eating raw chicken or stepping on rusty nails without shoes for fun). Where is this going? you may be inclined to ask. There is a growing problem lying in the fact that any people have come to claim

addiction as a reason for their over-indulgences, compulsive behaviors, and strange obsessions. What better way to avoid catching those sideways glances when you excuse yourself from Thanksgiving dinner to grab your fourth glass of hard liquor/cheat on your spouse/spend your childs fifth birthday in jail because you stole a box of Pop tarts from the grocery store? I have an addiction fits the bill. It can easily be said that people are using this newfound disease as a scapegoat for their inabilities to control themselves and their behaviors or compulsions. Why take responsibility for your irresponsibility when you have something perfectly believable to pass the blame to? What sort of addictions are there? is a question I found myself asking before I started doing research on this topic. There are literally addictions that is to say a compulsion to behave or over-indulge in something to a degree that it is deemed hazardous to either your mental or physical health for almost anything you can think of. Alcoholism, cigarettes, hoarding, gambling, sex addiction (also known as nymphomania or compulsive sexual behavior) are among the more common of the diagnosable addictions. I will say before I go further, that I am in no way claiming that the effects from these things are dangerous or painful for the person or their family. It is apparent, not only from scientific evidence, but as well as from observation of people who have addictions (particularly to substances such as alcohol or narcotics) that the effects can be dangerous or even deadly, not to mention providing large amounts of emotional pain for loved ones of the diagnosed as well. My claim is that in providing names for these issues, people are becoming more and more willing to accept that the option to turn to substance abuse or compulsive behaviors as coping mechanisms. These disorders and diseases are making people not

only more dependent upon pharmaceutical drugs to cope with their issues but also teaching them that if they simply refuse to put forth the effort to cope with their problems on their own that there will be someone waiting to claim they have a defect and coax them into a belief that it is normal or acceptable to behave or cope in this way. (Davies) As mentioned earlier, there are a great multitude of behaviors defined as addictions. One of these is sex addiction, or nymphomania. This addiction is defined as the phenomenon in which individuals report being unable to manage their sexual behavior. (Wikipedia) Hyper sexuality has been recognized throughout history, dating back even to the ancient Greeks. However, during these times it was not seen as something that could not be helped, it was seen negatively as a (bad) choice in behavior (similar to the way, in modern times, a person decides to, for whatever insane reason, make a trip to the grocery store in their night-clothes). Regardless of a persons emotional status, so long as theyre competent, they must at some point be held accountable for their actions. I couldnt help it should not be accepted as a valid response for why someone commits adultery by either the spouse of the offender, nor society. Adulthood is being displayed to those who choose not to accept the responsibilities that come along with it, as something that can be escaped. Regardless of this fact, what is it that attracts people to substances and behaviors that they know are either unhealthy or dangerous? The answer to this question is directly dependent upon the type of addiction. For instance, an addiction to cigarettes is a bodys craving for the nicotine that they provide. The human brain familiarizes the action of smoking with the craving for the nicotine, and here we have on our hands a full-blown addiction. Is this something that

could be helped with a push from an independent thought? Of course! Tons of people quit smoking cold turkey, and even if this is not a possible solution, there are other methods to help wean the body from the cravings of nicotine. Another example: a gambling addiction. What aspect of this behavior is what becomes addictive (Id hope it isnt the tacky carpeting most casinos have or the awful ringing from all the machines)? Scientific research has shown that behavioral addictions involving actions such as gambling, sexual activity, stealing, etc. are appealing to people because the dopamine levels in their brain rise when theyre performing these acts. Dopamine is what is known as the pleasure chemical and it instructs your brain to recognize that whatever you are doing at the very second it is released is good, and should be repeated in order to achieve a feeling of happiness or satisfaction. While, on a bad day, something that provides comfort shouldnt be too much to ask for, there are healthier and more morally responsible activities that can provide the same effects. For instance, skydiving is a much safer alternative to blowing your childs college funds in a tackily decorated casino. The effects are much less damaging not only to your future, but also to your emotional health as well. If an instance occurs where a person has spent a lot of money they didnt necessarily have to spend in a casino, not only is it going to put more stress on the perpetrator later, but it will also put stress on the family of that person who is now responsible for regaining the lost funds. Or in the case of a sex addiction, if adultery is committed, it could potentially ruin a family. The person performing these actions is going to have to later deal with a much harsher repercussion than the problem they were experiencing initially. The diagnosis of actions such as these as a disorder or disease is merely excusing them in the name of science.

In summary, my opinion on the American definition of addictions is that it has been highly skewed to suit the needs of a weak-minded and emotionally unstable society. While emotional repression is just as unhealthy as addictive behaviors, in lamenting those who cannot behave themselves we grant them a pardon to behave in any way they see fit while they suffer little to no more repercussions than someone whos been struck by lightening (He couldnt help it, it just happened!). In doing this, we are teaching our children that it is okay to do these things, because ultimately, the disorder decides their behavior. This, I think I have proven, is clearly not the case.

Works Cited
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Sexual Addiction - Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 2012, from Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_addiction American Medical Association. (n.d.). Definitions. Retrieved November 2012, from http://www.amaassn.org/resources/doc/alcohol/alcoholism_treatable.pdf Davies, J. B. The Journal of Cognitive Liberties. Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Alcoholism| Define Alcoholism at Dictionary.com. Retrieved November 2012, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/alcoholism