Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Addiction Nation

[Woodstock, NY August, 1969. Where it all started.]

According to the disease model of addiction, addiction is an illness.

It's my belief that the United States is a nation currently afflicted with literally an epidemic of addictions. While we have succeeding in stamping out small pox and polio and many other illnesses, this new wave of disease is overwhelming and destroying this great country.

First of all, consider shopping addiction. This is actually the basis of the current financial collapse. Too many people have borrowed and spent more money than they can possibly ever repay, resulting in a global crisis. A New York Times columnist has called America the Madoff Economy.

Sexual addiction is rampant. Internet pornography is huge and growing. Far too many men are playboys while few are responsible family men. Among young women, sexual promiscuity is considered to be normal. Few children are being raised by both biological parents from birth to adulthood, with devastating consequences.

Food addiction is ruining people's health, overwhelming the health care system and shortening lives.

Alcoholism is widespread as is drug addiction.

America is a democracy, meaning that the government follows the desires of the majority. However, when the majority are addicts, this may be a problem. An addict will often sincerely believe that he is not an addict and insist that all he needs to be happy is more of whatever he is addicted to. The United States government therefore plans to help people spend more money which they don't have. Marijuana is now gradually being legalized in the United States. Many experts are suggesting legalizing all drugs. These are not good signs.

The long range outcome of addiction is severely impaired functioning, poverty and early death. Poverty in the United States is becoming daily more severe while life expectancy is dropping.

What is happening today in the United States may be more similar to the decline of the Roman Empire than to the Great Depression. No one can predict how this will play out, however in some cases addicts will "hit bottom" (reach a situation which they find intolerable) and then recover.

There is no antibiotic or vaccine for the disease of addiction. The only treatment is the Twelve Step Program, whose key elements are monotheism and altruism.


Anonymous said...

I'm about your age, and even I know that Woodstock wasn't where anything 'started' -- various cultural trends had to be well underway to make Woodstock possible.

Our culture does have some screwedup-ness regarding money, spending, and material goods, but they're of a deeper and more subtle nature than shopping spree addiction. Conflating them deflates the credibility of the buildup of your essay.

And the 12-step system is merely the best known effective treatment for addiction; it is neither the only useful one, nor effective for every patient. (Fortunately, according to the stats I read, even though the best treatment programs -- including AA -- have similar failure rates, the prospects for an addict who keeps trying different programs until they find which one works for them are not too bad. Of course, doing that, like sticking with whichever program they do find, requires that the addict be reay to, desire to, get better.) Telling folks to put all their eggs in the 12-step basket dooms those for whom it's not the right tool.

Originally From Brooklyn said...

So What? Who cares if people are addicts? People will continue to go about doing whatever it is they are doing, and if the nation declines, so be it. You have presented many things that lead to outcomes that you consider undesirable, but perhaps people are willing to trade the longer life, the healthy family, the healthy existence for a mind numbing drug altered one. If this is what the people want you can stand on a pedestal and tell them that they are harming themselves, but it won't change a thing if they are ok with that. Excesses are only bad if you are not ok with the consequences, but if you are fine with the hangover what is the problem with getting drunk?

jewish philosopher said...

dglenn, I'm not aware of any widely used addiction recovery program which doesn't involve monotheism and altruism.

Child, part of my religion involves attempting to give other people good advice. If they then refuse to take it, I'm not responsible.

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour, and not bear sin because of him. Lev. 19:17

Joseph said...

In view of the resemblance of the U.S. to Rome in the days of Marius, if the U.S. adheres to the same schedule as the archetypical has-been empire, it will be 500 years before Washington is sacked.

jewish philosopher said...

Things may move a little faster in our times.

Anonymous said...

Oy, you forgot about the religion addicts. Those are the most dangerous ones, from what I can tell.

jewish philosopher said...

I probably left it out because no one other than a few homosexuals have ever heard of "religious addiction". Basically, "religious addict" is what a few gay men call people who believe, correctly, that God doesn't allow men to have sex with other men.

The most dangerous addiction is the "stupidity addiction" seen in people who keep trying to argue with those who are smarter.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of religious addiction and seen it many times, here and on other sites. I'm not a homosexual male. Your stupidity addiction comment is ironic to say the least. Most rabbonim in the orthodox world agree that a huge chillul hashem is being perpetrated by your dogmatic and unfounded arguments. Again, you just make frum people look really, really bad.

jewish philosopher said...

"I've heard of religious addiction"

Good for you, but no psychologist ever has.

"you just make frum people look really, really bad"

Because I'm against gays, atheists and Muslims? So are most Americans. Unless they happen to be gays, atheists or Muslims.

DrJ said...

JP, I know I have asked this in the past, but sometimes I wonder if you really believe in the things you say yourself. Are you really a closet atheist or homosexual or something?

I say this because I can sense the pattern of someone fighting his own demons....with a vengeance.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't quite get it. Do you think any Orthodox Jews, I mean ones who are really Orthodox, not those in some stage of conversion to atheism, think atheism and homosexuality are OK? I didn't exactly make this up.

From the Haggadah which we read last week:

The wicked one, what does he say? "What is this service to you?!" He says `to you,' but not to him! By thus excluding himself from the community he has denied that which is fundamental. You, therefore, blunt his teeth and say to him: "It is because of this that the L-rd did for me when I left Egypt"; `for me' - but not for him! If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed!"

And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

These are basics, yet I have "Orthodox" or ex-Orthodox people reading this blog thinking that I dreamed up! They apparently slept through all those years of Jewish classes.

And then evolution. I get "Why does evolution contradict the Torah?" Well, why does anything contradict the Torah? Why does believing in Jesus contradict the Torah? Come on guys, wake up. You've been reading the New York Times and you thought it was the Torah. Wrong.

Anonymous said...

Yankees are indeed addiction-prone, and I predict that if dope were legalized in the US the outcome would be similar to that of, say, the wholly legal consumption of alcohol in Russia:

Russia’s patterns of death from injury and violence (by whatever provenance) are so extreme and brutal...
Unlike drinking patterns prevalent in, say, Mediterranean regions—where wine is regarded as an elixir for enhancing conversation over meals and other social gatherings, and where public drunkenness carries an embarrassing stigma—mind-numbing, stupefying binge drinking of hard spirits is an accepted norm in Russia and greatly increases the danger of fatal injury through falls, traffic accidents, violent confrontations, homicide, suicide, and so on.
Poisoning via home-made moonshine.

In the end us squares would wind up paying for the alpha jocks', Thinkers' and rock and rollers' Fun and Enlightenment binges with our taxes: theft, robbery, hospital, rehab, varying degrees of manslaughter, and guess what, widespread violence.

alex said...

One author claims that religion can be an addiction (whatever that means):

Josef said...

An estimated 25% of Americans take prescription antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. Most of these are extremely addictive (although pharmaceutical companies often downplay the addictive properties of these drugs). Prescription medications abuse eclipse others in the substance abuse issue.