How we experience the effects of a drug is largely determined by how we feel going into it, and how we feel without it. A drug will have a much larger and more positive effect if it made us feel better than we did to begin with instead of much worse.
If an addictive substance or activity provides extraordinary relief, comfort, or pleasure, then it is likely benefiting from certain biological or environmental preconditions that are making the substance so appealing to the user.
What draws us to Addiction?
Addiction, alcoholism and drug abuse flourish under conditions of deprivation and is counteracted by a supportive, gratifying, and comfortable environment. This has been demonstrated both in societal observation, such as the rate of drug use among soldiers during a time of war, as well as in the laboratory with rats. Soldiers in Vietnam, for example, abused heroin at incredibly high rates. During this time of abuse, soldiers were living and working in incredibly stressful conditions, away from their family and all of the comforts of home. As heroin is known as a strong pain-reliever, their use during this time is surprising to few.
To avoid or give up an addictive substance, it is necessary to create a gratifying and supportive environment. Otherwise, escaping the grasps of addiction will prove difficult. Addiction is a tool for pre-occupation, a way to adapt and cope in a stressful environment.
Addiction is a growing problem throughout the United States, including in New York and Princeton, and looking at addiction as a way to cope with discouragement, deprivation, and other dissatisfaction offers insight into our society. As a nation, we are incredibly preoccupied with ourselves—not because we are overindulged in the ways that really count, but because we are in desperate need of real attention and gratification.
To say that society and our families are not adequately meeting our collective needs is not to make a plea for collective self-pity and complaint. Recognizing our unmet needs can be a very positive action, the first step out of our addictive vulnerability and narcissistic preoccupation. By recognizing what we really crave in our lives we can begin to find ways to satisfy and nurture ourselves and each other in ways that will ultimately lead us out of self-preoccupation, not further into it. Society models us. When enough of us change, it changes.