Addiction is an age-old problem that has existed for thousands of years. Addiction is defined as the physical and psychological dependence on a substance or behavior. While substance addictions like alcoholism have been around for centuries, even new forms of addiction such as video game addiction are still based on similar underlying motives. People who have an addiction are attempting to fill a personal void in their lives, and this phenomenon is anything but new.
Although to the modern observer addiction may seem like a fairly new development, the roots of addictive behavior can be found in ancient writings about alcoholism and drug abuse. Ancient Greeks documented problems with alcohol and use of opiates by physicians. In the 17th century, alcohol addiction was known as “excess” or “strong drinking” and was treated like an illness by medical professionals. People have been dealing with addiction and its consequences for hundreds of years.
This is not to say that addiction did not evolve as society changed. For instance, cameras beginning in the mid 1800s increased the prevalence of cigarettes and snuff, leading to increased use of nicotine and associated nicotine addiction. Since then, dependence on new substances has kicked off with the advent of each new product. Rapid changes in technology have led to an increase in video game and computer addiction, creating new sets of problems throughout the world.
However, the psychology and underlying motivation behind addiction has remained the same. Regardless of the substance or behavior people are engaging in, addictions are a form of self-medication, where individuals are attempting to achieve temporary euphoria and avoid the difficulties and problems in life. Rather than engaging in self-destructive behavior, people with addictions are trying to cope with the stressors and disruptions of life.
Regardless of its form, addiction has taken a physical, mental, and emotional toll on people’s lives since ancient times. It is important for those seeking help for addiction to realize that their specific problems are not new and that there are established resources and methods available to help them successfully overcome their addictions. It is easily forgotten that addiction is millennia old when looking upon the new forms of addiction that have emerged due to rapid advances in technology. Recognizing this fact is a key step to recognizing the need for treatment and making a full recovery, as addiction can be addressed with the right tools and support.