Is Addiction Normal? - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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Is Addiction Normal?

Is substance abuse and addiction already a norm?

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We see and hear about it in celebrity gossip columns and shows, but is substance abuse and addiction already a norm? When I was in college, I thought it would be a temporary period of heavy drinking. Passing out drunk several nights per week was “the norm”. I always figured it’d slow down after I officially graduated into “the real world”. I mean, how could working adult function at their jobs if they drank this much?

Is Addiction Normal?Well, I graduated and found out that, although most working women don’t get pass-out drunk on work nights (well, not usually!), they certainly do drink heavily, and the same pressure is there to partake. Networking over drinks, dinner meetings, hanging with friends… it all adds up, and before you know it you’ve had way more alcohol than your calorie counter (or liver) wanted you to.

We all know that drinking is socially accepted, and that drinking to excess is, unfortunately, often encouraged by friends. Despite being an occasional and social activity, some people fall into addiction in times of extreme stress (hello: working women!) Studies have shown that stress can become the cause for addiction and –get this– it can go the other way around. Substance abuse also leads to stress, which causes a cyclical process that spares only the very strong-willed and resilient.

Researchers will tell you that alcohol and drug use affect the parts of the brain that are associated with rewards. Occasional drinking as a stress-reliever is a societally “normal” coping mechanism for individuals …but once chronic stress leads to habitual use of drugs and alcohol …then we have a problem.

But why do people resort to substances in the first place when the simple solution is to just plainly stop? The explanation is in the dope. Yes, dope.

Substance use gives you a rush pretty much like how extreme sports titillate  the senses. When a surfer conquers a wave, she will look for a bigger one. Consequently, dopamine levels in extreme sports enthusiasts and risk-takers return to a low initial level after an activity that introduces an adrenaline rush. Likewise, an addict experiences the same rush to find a more fulfilling fix.

Say, for example, you get that job promotion to Paris. Your dopamine (feel-good brain chemicals) level increases immediately by 10-15%. Drugs and alcohol can increase that level three-fold.

On the other hand, if you’re overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated, you may have the tendency to go to the pub and grab a margarita with colleagues in the same situation. This act, however, prompts the brain to go into stress by activating its stress systems and makes her brain particularly susceptible to the addictive impact of the alcohol. This, ladies, is how you get hooked.

Occasional drinking is actually socially-accepted. However, addiction should not be.

Is Addiction Normal?People unintentionally get addicted, and the pattern begins with chronic stress. There are plenty of ways for an individual to resist substances, and they’re pretty much available for you to try. Here are some tricks to keeping yourself away from stressors:

Keep yourself busy and productive

By derailing attention from stress, you keep your mind working on other things such as hobbies and interests. Go to the gym, write on your blog, or do crafts. These give you a feeling of satisfaction, and what you achieve gets you on a similar high. To boot, you end up with a great body, a thought-provoking article, or jewelry that you can sell or give as gifts.

Take time for a breather

This includes socializing or going out for a snack or ice cream. Short breaks relieve you mentally and physically and can even improve your concentration.

Rethink or reconsider your time management scheme

Sometimes stress is induced by mismanagement of tasks. Urgent tasks and multitasking sometimes get too overwhelming, and you end up losing yourself to them.

Ask for help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s entails courage to admit that you are not strong enough to handle a task alone.

We are all prone to stress. With the multiple roles we play both at home and at work, it’s easy to succumb to the easy and temporary way out. However, the best solution is to address the problem head-on. What keeps you worried should be looked at closely so that you’ll know how to best make it stop.

Do you use substances more when you’re stressed out? How do you deal? 

Rebecca is Urbanette’s Beauty and Health Editor. She is an expert in all things related to beauty, holistic health, organic food, toxins and fitness. She is a part-time model and nutritionist who grew up in Canada and now lives in Brooklyn, with her boyfriend David.

Reader Discussion: 8 Comments

  1. I’ve always thought that it’s very important to have a good disposition and positive look at life! We all have our flaws and restrictions and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  2. CourtneyWatson

    Personally, I think that addiction is normal to “weak” people. We all have our own troubles, problems and issues! It would be a very “lame” excuse to indulge to addiction because of these …. Addiction is a choice!

  3. Hannah Mayers

    I personally believe that addiction is NOT normal. What’s normal are stress, problems, obstacles, challenges, and hindrances. I think addiction is normal for people who are very weak and can’t accept defeat. For me, acceptance is the key. We just need to be aware and accept our limitations. Be strong!

  4. Jen Spillane

    The idea that multitasking causes stress and makes you less productive is getting more and more clout. I am so used to feeling like multitasking makes me more efficient; it's hard to break the habit. But I have become more aware of how I feel when I'm multitasking versus giving all of my attention to one task at a time. There's definitely more noise in my head when I'm multitasking, and I'm more inclined to think, "Time for a margarita!"

  5. I think drug abuse is becoming the norm. Plenty of celebrities are open with their drug habits like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber. The specific drug most common and popularized is marijuana.And being a college student, I see a lot of students use drugs as well. But I do think being productive can keep you away from drugs,or at least for the mean time.

  6. Sara E Liz

    I feel that sometimes there's a fine line between what's normal and addiction. It can all depend on the person. Some have an addictive personality and others don't

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