Addiction starts early 
By Walter Sorochan Emeritus Professor San Diego State University

Posted September 12, 2018; updated November 16, 2021.  Disclaimer

Addiction starts early and most parents are completely unaware of it. Addiction starts with eating the wrong kind of food and drinking soft drinks. Ofcourse such a happening is inadvertent and well intended. 

Early food addiction opens the door to more dangerous addictions like smoking tobacco, drinking coffee, drinking alcoholic beverages, heroin, dope and sweet, salty and fat processed snacks. There are also silent addictions like gambling and shopping. But many temper such suggestions with excuses of how being addicted to exercise is healthy for the body and that sugar foods are approved by the government and so must be safe and non-addictive. 

Most people like to put the blame for addiction on drug suppliers. Instead we need to look at how parents and the American culture inadvertently create addiction in their children.  Parents are part of a bigger culture system. So we need to also explore how a culture may really be the root of silent and accepted addiction.

Parents inadvertently and with good intentions try to get their children to eat breakfast. Breakfast is often  sugar/honey coated corn flakes, or bacon and eggs with sweetened fruit juice. Then, later in the day, mother prepares a meat and potatoes diner with desert that is once again sweetened.  In the evening, many snack on junk addicting foods that may be salty popcorn and more sweets.  Such meals may seem healthy, the kids and their parents eat these and acquire a taste for these foods as adults. Within several years, they may gain weight and silently incubate obesity and other chronic diseases.

The good news is that people are starting to become aware of eating good foods that are not sugary, avoiding red meat and preservatives.  But most are not aware that we all develop a taste for certain favorite foods. Many of these are foods are addictive and may be incubating chronic diseases. And many are not aware that their adult addiction to bad food started innocently in early childhood.

Then there is cultural addiction which no one talks about. A country's culture of beliefs and habits create addictions. For example, we celebrate birthdays with a birthday cake that is spiced with sugar; Halloween chocolate candy treats for kids; Easter chocolate egg hunt; and Christmas cookies and sweets. These are treats intended to make the kids feel good. We are hypocrites when we deny that these sugar rituals exist. The more we think of how these cultural celebrations fixate addiction, the more convinced we become that our culture not only celebrates addictions but also supports addictions.  Addiction to holiday sweets is stored in the brain that sweets make us feel good and happy. It is a step away from using street drugs to feel good.

Addiction takes away one's ability to be reasonable and identify what causes us to be unhappy or dissatisfied with life. When we do know what causes us to be unhappy, we do not seem able to change or find a solution to our unhappiness. So many often resort to some form of addiction to feel better.

Politics is a hidden supporter of addiction. If we examine the political system, we find that politicians themselves have cultural addictions that drive their decision making. They socialize with alcoholic beverages, sugar treats and so on. It is no small wonder that politicians support the sugar, alcohol industries and agricultural subsidies that do not promote wellbeing. When politicians themselves indulge in cultural addictions, they find it hard to legislate for foods that are nutritious and healthy for the entire population. Politicians may make a lot of noise about addictive drug legislation, then forget about it while thousands of young persons succumb to illegal street drugs. Many lawyers visit their favorite watering hole after work, and drink alcoholic beverages to lubricate their discussions. Many lawyers, like politicians, vested in their own addictions, find it difficult to face the truth and legislate about tobacco, alcohol, drugs and even addictive foods.

Breaking addiction of any kind is very difficult because the brain saves the good feeling memory of addiction. It is the brain appestat that resists giving up it's happy memory days of addiction.

We are in denial as a country that we are a nation of addicts. Such denial transcends to not providing more drug rehabilitation and mental health hospitals.

Is it any wonder that we are a nation of addicts? And we seem unable to properly legislate to stop drug addiction. Instead, we propose to build fences to keep drug traffickers out!