An addiction is usually related to chemical substances in the present context, where the body’s tolerance increases gradually. There are mild to severe psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms and a general deterioration in the physical, mental and social well-being of the individual.
A recent evaluation on Social Health in our country has found a marked rise in the intake of alcohol, tobacco chewing and tobacco smoking. The situation has reached quite alarming proportions. The social acceptability of chewing paan masala has resulted in phenomenal rise of its consumption. Everyone from the men on the street, to business executives, to housewives and working women have got addicted to this craze. The perspectives of this situation becomes more alarming when we find that students of colleges and universities and even adolescents are getting addicted to this curse.
Drug addiction is already a real cause for worry with unscrupulous drug peddlars trapping the gullible in their net, reducing them to imbeciles and ninocompoops. The brighter side of the campaign unleased in the media is that there has been a comparative reduction in new drug addiction cases. The stress laid on domestic harmony and the problems arising from tension in the family have been highlighted in the campaigns. The use of common needles for injecting drugs and its disastrous side effects in the form of AIDS, have also delivered some results. Further the examples of physical deterioration, mental and moral degradation in drug addicts, in their family or amongst friends or acquaintances, are definitely acting as a deterrant for new users.
The campaign to inform cigarette smokers of the harmful effects of nicotine has been unleashed but has yet to deliver the desired results. Some terrifying facts about cigarette smoking still need to be brought to the forefront. Nicotine from one single cigarette smoked, if separated and injected directly into a person’s blood, is enough to kill him. This chemical is so strong that it is used as a poison to kill insects that do not die with regular pesticides. That the smoke inhaled while smoking a cigarette is Carbon Monoxide, a killer gas and that each cigarette shortens a person’s life by five minutes, that passive smoking is more harmful than direct smoking.
Smoking cigarettes is an addiction which has been found to affect the oesophagus, cause coronary heart disease, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. The USA today in a report confirmed “Nicotine, the well known addictive of tobacco, may also be a powerful promoter of lung cancer”. Phillip A. Dennis of the National Cancer Institute, in the same report says “Nicotine inhibits the body’s natural ability to destroy cells that experience genetic damage. Normally when cells become damaged, a program in the DNA is activated that instructs the cell to stop dividing and die. Nicotine overrides that protective mechanism and forces cells to survive.
Cigarettes have become expensive over the decades with several duties and taxes imposed on them. A survey pointed out that a popular brand selling for about 80 paise per pack of ten cigarettes in 1970 sells for Rs. 23 today, that is hike of about 30 times, but it continues to hold its market and even today is one of the largest selling brand in urban areas. An explanation to this continued addiction was elicited by an erudite person of 55 years has continued to smoke for the last 35 years or more, he says: “Look at the pollution in the air, which we breathe. It is enough to lead us to a plethora of health related problems. Our roads and traffic are worse and there are more chances of my being killed while committing or even crossing the road than smoking. So in this life of today’s uncertainties, why ask me to give up anything which really gives me pleasure and the high level of concentration I need on my job.” This is addiction, because his blood and body system cries out for nicotine, the moment he wants to relax or concentrate.
Consumption of liquor has been the bone of our society. Right from the rickshawpuller and labourer to the top flight business executive, it has become the necessity to have a few drinks at the end of the day. The difference between them is the quality of substance consumed. The poor man goes in for the country liquor or even hooch, whichever is available and suits his pocket, whereas the sauve executive goes in for the more refined ones. The other one is the location and ambience of the place where liquor is served. The former gulps it down in one go, makes a wry face, spits and lights up a ‘bidi’ whereas the latter sits at his club or a bar where he orders snacks with his drink and lights up one of those expensive cigarettes.
The effect is the same on the body. It has been found that occasional or ‘heavy drinking depresses the function of the nervous system and brain, making people behave with less inhibition.’ Even the government has expressed its serious concern about the problem and one of the recent Five Year Plan report states, “The growing menace of drug abuse and increasing habit of drinking have ruined many families and endangered the physical security of women. For prevention and control of drug abuse and alcoholism, apart from strictness of the legislation, the role of the media should be enlarged. Counseling, de-addiction and after-care centres should be expanded”.
Addiction to anything starts with the idea of a ‘kick’ which continues for sometime and then we suddenly find ourselves ‘hooked’ to it. The moment any effort is made to reduce or regulate the intake, the body and the nervous system starts experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This is the difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic. The former is in a position to control his intake but the latter has no control it, although the former is also in line to become an alcoholic.
Nature has provided our body with the natural tendency to feel good after a short, vigorous work out. So it is not necessary to use chemicals for that ‘feel good’ feeling. A good jog or half an hour’s exercise in the morning would give our body a better ‘kick’ than anything else and this is what would be the order of the day.