I had the interesting experience through college of working in a “Head Shop” in a liberal community. This establishment offered paraphernalia, tattoos, and body piercings, and I believe that my day in and day out experiences with users of all types, not just drugs and alcohol, to escape reality showed me a lot about society and addiction. The society we live in has a huge gap between the classes and the idea of reality escapism hits different sectors of our society in different ways. The bottom line is that addiction knows no boundaries, and the desire to escape reality hits all factions of modern society in some way.
Addicts come in the form of Doctor’s, Lawyers, Business Professionals, Media Personalities as well as the commonly accepted lower socio-economic classes. The amount of pressure put on the general public to be successful in their work, and relationships drive the desire to escape our day to day realities. The lack of simplicity in our days, the amount of stress we are put through in school and in the workplace, and the psychological disorders that stem from these pressures drive the addiction to disillusionment.
In a world where there is so much suffering, why do people want to deal with the reality we are born into? Reality in modern times is harsh and the drugs & alcohol offer one more social control mechanism. If people are less aware of the realities around them, they are less likely to put up a fight to change the world condition.
Global capitalism must have an impact, and I base this assumption on the difference between drug use by Indigenous People being primarily spiritual in comparison to the “developed world” view of drugs & alcohol. The “developed world” approaches mind altering substances primarily as recreational, allowing for escapism from our own minds as opposed to spiritual inner reflection. Rites of passage in American Society occur through the pressures of recreational drug and alcohol use, which then leads to addiction towards the “good feeling.” Lacking culturally accepted “rites of passage” in American Society fuels the reality escapism that drugs and alcohol offer. Our young people are shown through media, as well as family that alcohol is accepted in most forms of celebration. Be it funerals, weddings, graduations etc. alcohol tends to be involved.
Drug abuse is introduced in different ways than alcohol, but is still problematic. I see addiction to over the counter drugs/ prescriptions just as prevalent as addiction to “street drugs” when considering reality escapism. Sleeping pills will help allow people to deny their own minds wanderings, and the suffering these users are blocking out is similar to the motivations of all users. With an improved global world condition, humans would not desire to escape the “Pandora’s Box” reality they are born into.