When you think of the word addiction, what comes to your mind? Most people probably associate the word addiction with drugs. Most definitions will reference drugs or a substance. Over the past several years the United States of America has been plagued with an opioid epidemic. The National Institute of Drug Abuse said that that on average 130 people die a day in this country from an opioid overdose. In the last couple of years, our youth has been facing a major vaping epidemic. The NIODU said that as of December 2018 37.3% of 12th graders have used vape in the last 12 months. Vape was originally invented to help people stop cigarette addiction. Vaping could be turning into a larger epidemic than smoking ever was among teenagers due to the misinformation that vape is harmless. This country has had a smoking, alcoholism, and obesity epidemic for a long time. We currently have a distracted driving epidemic. You can see the results of this with increased traffic and increased distracted driving fatalities.
The reality is that every one of these epidemics are only symptoms of a lot larger problem called addiction. This country is in the middle of an addiction crisis. This crisis is affecting every single one of us in one way or another. You do not have to suffer from addiction to be affected by addiction. This crisis will get worse before it gets better if we do not see addiction for what it is. Any particular addiction is nothing more than a distraction from ourselves. It is an escape from the present moment. It is an escape from our authentic self. As a whole addiction is a powerful, cunning and evil force. It can be looked at as a monster that is taking the lives of people all around us. The deaths do not even account for the suffering of loved ones, time, energy and billions of dollars wasted.
Where do all the billions of dollars go? A good majority ends up in the hands of drug dealers, predatory marketers, and lobbyists. Predatory marketers are pharmaceutical companies, big tobacco, and vape companies. There are billion-dollar industries that have been helping to feed the perfect storm called an addiction crisis. These greed machines fully understand how addiction is a powerful and evil force. They know the negative consequences of addiction but are only concerned with making lots of money. They are playing right into the hands of our vulnerability as a society.
Why are we in the middle of this addiction crisis and how did our society become a victim to predators? Our society has become the context for an addiction crisis. Our society is suffering as a whole, but on another note, most of society has become a victim to technology and social media. Technology companies intention is to improve our society, but a side effect is that a good majority of us have our face buried in a screen such as a smartphone. Every time we pick up our phone it can be a possible distraction from the present moment. 88% percent of teenagers from the age of 13 to 17 own or have immediate access to a phone. If we are constantly looking at a screen we are conditioning patterns in our brain. Our nervous system learns that we can escape for a moment by looking at our phone. This pattern causes us to disconnect from ourselves and those around us. This pattern paves the way for addiction to be present in other areas of our lives in the future.
A good portion of our society is becoming more and more disconnected from themselves. They are drifting further and further away from their authentic self. There are many that are moving further and further away from their values and principles that make society prosper. As a society, many are being driven by fear and are lacking the love that they deserve. People are very stressed out and looking for an escape. As long as many are looking for an escape, the predators will always show up. There will always be predators looking to feed the addiction. There will always be pharmaceutical companies, drug dealers, tobacco companies, and evil chemists designing new street drugs. We do not want to spend too much time and energy blaming the predators and playing the victim. Blame and victimization will only keep us stuck. Once society as a whole has a better understanding of addiction than we can really focus on recovery and prevention. If we are to heal as a society, we must create the context for healing.
I have been a person in recovery since August of 2001. Within a couple of months of being clean, I started to completely transform my life. My own transformation has opened me up to the vision of a healed society. Recovery has become my passion and helping others to transform their life has become my purpose. If we are to pave the way for everyone to recover, we must end the stigma associated with addiction. This happens when society has a better understanding of addiction. As a whole, we need to let go of our judgment of those who have suffered and find some empathy and compassion. Fear of judgment and stigma keeps people from finding recovery. I flourished in my own recovery because I was loved and accepted by others who had suffered the same way that I did. We want to look at those who have suffered and see them in the light of their greatness.
Look at a man the way he is and he only becomes worse, but look at him as if he were what he could be, then he becomes what he should be.
John Wolfgang Von Goethe
My vision is that everyone gets to heal, transform, and awaken. I mean everyone and not just those that are addicted. Can you imagine a world where everyone is living in purpose? Can you imagine a world where everyone is living as their authentic self with total freedom? Can you imagine a world where every child is free to dream and moving toward their dream life? Can you imagine a world where we are free from our minds and can cherish the present moment? Can you imagine a world with less fear and more love? I have this vision because of my own transformation. If we are to heal and rise above this addiction crisis, we must have a consciousness change.
If you can see my vision of a healed society, I am providing you with a call to action. You are 100% responsible for yourself and becoming source to those around you. Start by transforming your own life and be the light for those around you. Ask yourself questions such as what is my purpose and am I living it. Ask yourself if you are operating under limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck. Ask yourself if you are living a fulfilled life. A fulfilled life is where you are constantly improving yourself through personal development and being a contribution to society.
Once you are open to transforming your own life, ask yourself questions such as what messages am I conveying to my children and other young people I come across. You want to create an awareness of any addictive patterns in your own life, because I promise you that your children are watching. Work toward creating a context in your household where addiction does not live. Practice removing yourself and your children from technology and television for periods of time. Use this time to connect better amongst your selves. Maybe you can make a rule such as no cell phones on the dinner table. A task force interviewed students who were vaping in highschools and asked the students what would keep them from wanting to vape. The most popular answer was better connection with their family.
When we become committed to transforming our own lives we become aware of the limiting beliefs that have kept us stuck. By creating awareness of our own limiting beliefs and removing them from our life, we can create an awareness to not install limiting beliefs in our children. The book Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz explains it best. The first agreement is be impeccable with your word. Words can be so powerful. If used incorrectly when we communicate with others, they can cause serious damage. When I was young, I was asked many times what is wrong with me. After hearing that a couple of times I was convinced that something was wrong with me. If you feel that something is wrong with you it is hard to love yourself. If you don’t love yourself you will want to escape.
Every child should know that they matter, they are enough, and there is incredible power inside of them. Every child should have the freedom to dream and just be who they truly are. Parents are suppose to love, protect, support, provide and encourage. It is important for parents to not control. If we are controlling our children then they become deprived of having their voice. By depriving children of their voice we tell them that their feelings and dreams do not matter. If our youth does not have a voice then they lose the ability to say no to peer pressure. If our youth taps into their personal power then they can keep their focus on their hopes and dreams. If they are focused on their hopes and dreams than they can be taught that addiction is the monster that will get in the way of their hopes and dreams. If our youth taps into their personal power than they will make better decisions. If everything is decided for them then we take away their power of choice and deprive them the ability to learn from their own mistakes. Controlling parents can cause a child to live a secret life. We want our children to be able to talk us about anything.
If we are fulfilled as human beings we close the door to addiction to enter into our lives. Remember that the two ingredients to fulfillment are personal development and contribution. Show your children the importance of service to others. We ask children what do you want to be when you grow up. We should ask our children how do you want to make the world a better place or where do you want to contribute. Helping our children to personally develop and be of service to others builds self-worth and self-esteem. When we provide service to others we feel significant and connect to others at a higher level. When we connect to others through service we form healthy relationships and don’t feel the need to fit in with the wrong crowd.
We can battle this addiction crisis if we unify as a society to create change through love. Let’s get to work and make this world a better place.