Thursday, April 20, 2017

Extra Credit: Addiction and the Internet

Addiction and the Internet  
            “Our pasts are becoming etched like a tattoo into our digital skins” (Shon-Meyerberg, 2011, p. 14). Facebook, YouTube, Google, and all other Internet sites are sister systems who work together to soak up and share personal information provided to it by its users. Every person has his or her own individualized Internet system, seeking only the information he or she wants to see. Just as the Internet latches onto each individual, drugs and alcohol have there own way of reaching out and grabbing its victims. Until we become aware of a need for change, no transformation seems necessary.
            Change and maintaining change, this was the theme of the 65th annual Nebraska Symposium at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. While attending a speech given by Dr. George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, I was reminded of this very important fact, “you take the drug to fix the problem that the drug causes.”  This results in a never-ending cycle of abuse. According to Dr. Koob, less than 20% of alcoholics receive help to overcome their addiction.
            Without assistance, overcoming an addiction is nearly impossible and Dr. Koob gave this startling statistic; over 8,000 people die every year from alcoholism. Unlike terminal illnesses and cancer, these deaths are highly preventable. There are alcohol anonymous (AA) meetings held in almost every community. These meetings give alcoholics the opportunity to share their stories and communicate with other individuals struggling with the same addictions. 
            Finding the location of AA meetings is as easy as entering a simple phrase into a search engine. It is important to realize that every search you enter puts a tag on you but is this always a bad thing? If I were to routinely search for AA meeting locations, my personalized Google may assume I’m an alcoholic. With this assumption, I would begin receiving adds for alcohol addiction hotlines or tips on overcoming alcoholism, which could be very helpful. Internet users will always be locked up in the cages of their own interests and desires but the cages of addiction can be broken.

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