In 1971, US President Ronald Reagan declared drug abuse as the number one public enemy. Decades have past but issues like drug addictions, trafficking of narcotics and illegal drug productions are still prevalent in America. But addictions come in many forms, whether you cannot go an hour without checking your social media or a day without booze. So what leads to addiction?

According to one widespread theory, the human body craves drugs after some time of constant consumption due to their chemicals elements. Though widely accepted, chemical imbalances may not be the sole culprit of drug addictions. Let’s take heroin for example:

During the Vietnam War, twenty-percent of American soldiers were using copious amounts of heroin but when the war ended, their “addiction” stopped. Likewise, patients with broken

bones who receive heavy doses of diamorphine – medical heroin, rarely turn into “junkies”. So if it’s not about the chemicals, what are the origins of addictions?

Another theory has lead to the importance of human interaction on addictive behaviors. Society’s reliance on technology and social media has isolated people in personal cages making inanimate objects more enticing companions than other humans. We live in a culture that romanticizes death, mental disorders and addiction. From the music we listen to, the movies we watch and even the ads we unconsciously glance at, all shape our norms, desires and needs. Today the widespread portrayal of drug addiction in the media is heavily contributing to the existing issue of drug abuse.

Some turn to drugs because of peer pressure, which is not always a friend offering some amount of cocaine in a club anymore. Peer pressure can be as simple as wanting to be “cool” and fitting in on social media without a friend directly coercing you to do a drug.

In other cases, drugs compensate for human interaction and serve as nourishment for anxiety. This is where the real issue lies. Governments reducing the supply of narcotics will not decrease the demand; it only raises the prices, which then leads to usage of homemade substances. Naturally, it would be impossible to completely eliminate all kinds of narcotics – the main goal of the war on drugs – but drastically reducing it is a viable option.

According to an experiment conducted by Professor Bruce K. Alexander, individuals provided with healthy atmospheres and human interactions will omit the need of drug usages. Correspondingly, reforms like wage increases and improved educational opportunities that are aimed at improving the quality of lives may also help reduce drug abuses in society.

Besides decreasing the number of young addicts, our society should also work to rehabilitate those long suffering from such illnesses. Narcotic addictions are serious issues and, as the title suggests, every person that contributes to the problems of drug addiction harms not only themselves but the future of society as a whole.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ryan