Addiction is evolving. With the help of technology, people are able to acquire substances and feed addiction through multiple platforms. As technology evolves and connects people in new ways, a new wave of addiction has been ushered in. Not only is technology providing new substances for users to rely on, it has created brand new forms of addiction as well. While most people think of addiction as a condition that involves abusing drugs and alcohol, it can also be used to describe repeated behaviors that become compulsive and interfere with everyday responsibilities, including work, relationships, and personal health. Over time, behavior-based addictions such as gambling and sex addiction have become widely discussed conditions with concrete support systems in place; however, new types of behavior-based addictions are growing. These types of addictions are becoming some of the most common addictions found in many different age groups. The new technology that fuels connectedness and improved quality of life has also introduced today’s youth to new forms of addiction that are quickly becoming more common than addiction to other illicit substances.
About the 21st Centuries Most Common Addictions
The Introduction of E-Cigarettes
The e-cigarette was thought to be an innovation in smoking cessation. These devices are often marketed as tools people can use to stop smoking cigarettes altogether. Boasting delicious flavors, vapor, and sleek designs, the devices have become incredibly popular. The problem, however, is that while people may stop smoking cigarettes with the aid of e-cigarettes, they have simply replaced one addiction with another. There is no proof at this time that e-cigarettes are successful cessation devices, and many experts recommend not using e-cigarettes with that goal in mind. Many users argue that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes because they do not have tobacco and other carcinogens, but without FDA involvement, there is little responsibility among manufacturers to hold true to these claims or set an industry standard.
The other problem that comes with the introduction of e-cigarettes is their appeal to adolescents and young adults. Currently e-cigarettes can be smoked just about anywhere, and the bright colors and wide array of flavors can make them more appealing. Many young adults and teens who would have otherwise never tried nicotine are finding themselves addicted to the devices. In fact, those who use e-cigarettes tend to smoke more often than those who use traditional cigarettes, which makes the devices more harmful than previously thought. E-cigarettes have quickly become another source of addiction that is highly accessible and legal to use, making it difficult to combat the growing problem.
The Problem with Social Media
Behavior-based addictions can be difficult to diagnose in some cases because the signs and symptoms of abuse can be harder to detect; however, these types of addiction can be just as damaging as actual substance addiction. Some of the biggest problems facing today’s young adults and adolescents relates to the digital world and how social media influences behaviors. Countless online applications are accessible with just the click of a button. Across the globe, people are able to connect in real time with anyone and this gives everyone a platform on which to be seen and to speak. However, with great privilege comes great responsibility, as they say.
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Social media sets standards for what is beautiful, exciting, or interesting. The desire to fit in and be admired by others can be incredibly influential, causing many to fabricate stories in order to impress complete strangers online. This can be damaging in a number of ways. Firstly, this embellishment of real life can make others feel inadequate or depressed. It can greatly affect self-esteem and lead some to believe that they are not living up to their potential. This can lead to a cycle in which people begin to embellish their own stories in order to appear successful and happy. These fabrications are incredibly damaging and can negatively affect emotional health. Young adults especially begin valuing themselves based on the number of “likes” they receive, and this can cause some to feel a false sense of superiority because of their popular online persona.
In addition to these influences, publication on a social media platforms also opens many up to cyber-bullying and other forms of online torment. This can be through harassing messages or posting embarrassing photos, and anyone can easily become a target for countless people. Social media becomes an easy way to go after someone because there is no real-time experience of facing someone and dealing with the consequences of one’s words or actions.
May people become addicted to the persona they create online and are actually completely different offline. Studies show that compulsive social media users have similar brain patterns to those who use drugs; however, because there is no stigma attached to Internet addiction, it is hard for many to grasp how it is problematic or harmful.