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Substance Abuse & Escapism: Understanding the Culture on a Deeper Level

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There is no getting away from the fact that challenges in life will continue to appear and one needs to embrace and face them instead of looking for ways to avoid them.  Seek counselling and a different perspective towards these problems is what one needs instead

By Chetan Jaiswal- Founder & CEO- MyPeegu

Substance misuse and escapism have unfortunately emerged as the main methods of avoiding the realities of life to combat the sense of futility and despair. The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic brought catastrophic changes in our lives. The prolonged lockdown and the essential safety precautions that confined us to our houses increased unpredictability and led to the emergence of certain addictions, like gaming, internet, social media, and drug usage. A study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that the Covid-19 pandemic not only saw a rise in drug use among Indians but also resulted in an additional 4.5 million users worldwide, mainly from India and Nigeria. The youth today are highly inclined towards substance abuse and escapism with the motive to get away from the harsh realities of life.  Furthermore, a pervasive sense of loneliness, alienation, and hopelessness encouraged these addictions and have unimaginable effects on our mental health.

Depression, anxiety and stress came out as significant health concerns that were seen dominating society at large. The loss of loved ones, occupations, and social connections were among the key causes of these mental health crises. According to WHO, many people have experienced psychological distress and signs of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder during the pandemic.

Link between Substance Abuse and Escapism

Individuals today are more predisposed to finding escape from the harsh realities of life, whether related to work, relationships, self-image, or financial problems. They thus resort to their preferred mood-altering drugs and seek solace in avoidance and denial. There is no disputing the fact that drugs and alcohol are titled as escapism methods.

These escaping methods, however, end up changing the individual and his ability to confront life’s reality on physical, mental, and psychic levels. Moreover, when mixed with substance abuse and other addictive behaviours, escapism becomes a negative enticement with unfavorable effects. Addiction resulting from escapism can lower self-compassion. The addiction to substance usage due to challenging circumstances is seen as an easy way to deal with emotions induced by such situations. As a result, it is only adding up and we have large population of addicts.

Some Factors that contribute to substance abuse and escapism 

Childhood traumas: Adverse childhood traumas can have a negative impact on the health and well-being of individuals. As a result, to get away with those traumas and overcome the stress and anxiety that comes along with it, humans often end up indulging in substance misuse, which further becomes their go-to method for escapism and soon transforms into an addiction. Especially youngsters who have gone through childhood traumas end up falling into the trap of substance misuse and escapism.

Loss of a loved one: The death of a near and dear one can be heart-wrenching. As a result, many people end up turning to drugs as a temporary means of coping with their loss. However, that temporary coping strategy quickly develops into an addiction and becomes a means of escape.

Loneliness: Despite living in the era of digitalization, people feel disconnected and isolated now more than ever. The thought of not being understood, inability to fit in, and feeling out of place can result in low self-esteem and even lead to depression. To avoid the feeling of dullness or loneliness, people often end up surrendering to substance abuse and escapism. This gives them temporary satisfaction in exchange, but it doesn’t take long for it to develop into a habit and their favoured method of dodging reality.

Way forward

There is no getting away from the fact that challenges in life will continue to appear and one needs to embrace and face them instead of looking for ways to avoid them. While substance misuse and escapism are temporary coping methods, addiction to them can result in several health issues. Here counselling plays an integral role as it offers the additional assistance you require and helps you deal with life issues more effectively. Your expert counselor will aid you in developing a better approach toward life and improving your managing abilities. Hence, instead of choosing substance misuse and escapism to avoid hard life realities, seek counselling with the motive of developing a different perspective towards challenges and aiming at a quality life.


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