Not a week goes by that there isn’t a headline about someone entering rehab or being caught selling drugs or taken to the hospital suffering from anorexia or any one of the numerous addictions that are all too prevalent these days.
Naturally, those we read and hear most about are celebrities because their stories sell copy. Yet, I assure you there are far more people in the population at large whose addictions remain known only to their immediate family. Most don’t even receive the costly and not always effective treatment available to the rich and famous.
So, let’s look at addiction and understand what it is doing to our society, to too many of our young people and the babies they seem to have with greater frequency than most.
For starters: being addicted to anything implies that the person suffering from an addiction is at the mercy of a habit (psychological or physical), the cessation of which causes severe trauma to his/her body and mind.
Examples: Gambling addicts and food addicts, “shopaholics,” “workaholics,” and sex addicts often fall prey to using alcohol or other drugs to lessen their inhibition which, in turn, allows them to participate in their addictive behaviors; they all seem to share one common denominator: an inability to consider the probable consequences of their behavior, even when they feel remorseful afterwards.
Take, for instance, the addictive behavior of the now famous “Octomom,” Nadya Suleman, who in her need to feel wanted, filled a void she’d convinced herself would be satisfied by conceiving more and more babies. Is such a need self-centered, self-motivated, and narcissistic? Probably. Is such a woman suffering from narcissistic personality disorder? Perhaps. But, then, so too, are the many celebrities who can’t seem to get their faces in the media often enough to satisfy themselves, no matter what harm it is doing to them or their loved ones. “The Gosselins ” is a perfect example of spouses using spouses in order to feed not their mouths but something that’s out of balance in their souls. At the same time, many argue, they are abusing the privacy of their children. Whatever the psychiatric diagnosis may be, that is not what I am addressing here.
The problem – and make no mistake about it, it is a very real problem for society – is about how important it is to teach our children to understand the consequences of their behaviors.
My fear is that as long as we continue to devote so much air time and newsprint to the addicts in our midst, we are failing to place our focus on what’s positive in our society. Consequently, a great dis-service is done to the healthy, wholesome young people who are committed to saving our planet, to helping the poor and all who can’t help themselves, to those who are creative in the arts and sciences, and most importantly, to all who are devoted to saving lives and the spirit of life rather than destroying it.
Placing celebrities in the limelight as they are hand-cuffed or shown in various compromised states gives our young people confusing and contradictory messages. On the one hand the addict may have committed a crime and is not anyone to be admired. On the other hand, appearing and re-appearing in the news keeps the negative image alive, blurring the reason for its being there.
What any child or adult who is unfamiliar with the disease of addiction needs to know is that once an addiction becomes a way of life, the addict is denied the privilege of sitting in his own control booth. He is already a victim of his addiction, a robot in a perpetual state of being unable to make rational choices. His drug of choice – sex, alcohol, prescription drugs, fame – whatever it may be rules and dictates his every move, even at the risk of dying.
So, as we’re approaching the holidays, let us think very seriously about what messages we wish to convey when we feel the need to shower loved ones with gifts we can’t afford to buy or celebrate by drinking or drugging to the degree of putting our own lives or the lives of others at risk. Let us take a long, hard look at all the beautiful people in Hollywood who are no longer amongst us due to a drug overdose or the innocent children and adults we once knew who were murdered by a drunk driver.
Some people believe that good always wins in the end. I must say I think it’s possible but only when good people do whatever it is that's in their power to help make it happen.
So, let us devote our time to helping heal those who need help and to stop promoting bad habits by glorifying them instead of pitying them.
We have everything to gain and too much to lose if we don’t!