Why Are We All So Addicted?

Remember in school when they told us to say no to peer pressure? Why then didn’t they ever warn us of the hazards of addiction? Or maybe they did, and we just weren’t taking legible notes that day. You see, billions of dollars are annually made off of our sometimes benign, but usually asinine, addictions. We can’t help it – we’re hooked to Facebook. And as students, sometimes we find it the hardest to kick the old habit or two.

Click to view print version.

Click to view print version.

There’s a reason a bad habit is called a “vice.” It’s because they clamp onto our psyches, tightening slowly until the will power is crushed out of us. The resilient have the strength to loosen the vice and move on. Not everyone is that lucky, however. When the clamp is secure it takes veracity to pry it free.

We all have our affinities. Whether it’s food or sex, video games or television, drugs, booze or that seductive pack of discount cigarettes. Unless you’re a practicing ascetic, you have a vice or two bouncing around. And it’s no secret that students like to indulge their cravings. When we have our downtime, how do we spend it? I know I’ve had my trysts with altered mind frames as a means of escape from reality. Have you?

The most abused narcotics in North America aren’t illegal. Not at all. You won’t have to visit shady corners on forlorn streets to purchase them. In fact, they’re propagated through every facet of media. One of the aforementioned muses has power enough to draw a generation of youth renowned for impatience to lines that move like a collection of sloths. People can’t speak in the mornings without it. After a few gulps the pupils dilate and the hands shake. Everyone’s ingested it. Those who haven’t, live in caves and speak in unintelligible grunts. It’s called caffeine. It’s sales dwarf those of cocaine.

Upon diligent surveying I came to this conclusion: The majority of students operate at the level of dying livestock without their daily rationing of Timmys, Starbucks, Second Cup or other monopolizing caffeine purveyor. According to CAMH – the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – caffeine is the “most commonly used stimulant” in the world. Caffeine has worked hard at earning the dreaded appellation of “narcotic.” Usually ingested through coffee or tea, but also sold in tablets, caffeine, in its raw form, is a bitter white powder. How appropriate. And how better to complement that nerve jarring latté than with a delicious, all-natural cigarette?

What makes cigarettes so alluring, and physically addictive, is nicotine. The billion-dollar brainchild of some long-dead scientists. Posselt and Roman – two German chemists that first isolated nicotine – aren’t lonely underground either. Smoking kills with the fervor of Michael Myers. 45,000 Canadians die from smoking each year. Outside any wing of any Sheridan Campus on any day, you’ll find students desperately sucking on the tip of some advertising moguls wet dream. A Belmont or maybe a du Maurier.

As a sage man once said, “Cigarettes are like gasoline. No matter how high the prices soar, we’ll still buy them.” Many of us kill ourselves to look cool. Nothing is sleeker than inhaling, and masterfully exhaling plumes of cancerous blue smoke. Our lungs must despise us by now. Some 5.4 million Canadians over the age of 15 are faithful to a pack of cancer sticks. Addictions are indiscriminate and can cripple the resolute, or weak. We can be legally addicted, physically addicted, chemically addicted and even psychologically addicted.

Maybe the monks have something going after all. So, please excuse me while I blow the dust from my tunic and shave my head to the skin.

text by nilsblondon

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