Addiction during the Pandemic
By Abhishek Subhash
One thing that many people have struggled with during the COVID 19 pandemic has been addiction. When we think of an addict, we automatically picture a junkie coughing near a subway injecting themselves with a substance. It’s strange how broad this term has become in the last few decades. Compulsive eating, smartphone addictions, smoking, vaping or using narcotics has become normalised in a way. We all know at least one person who is addicted to something.
Television was always considered potentially addictive, but now since the introduction of Netflix and other streaming platforms, we will often see posts of our friend’s binge watching a show. It is considered funny and cute, but it is easy to get stuck in the rabbit hole since the options of TV shows and movies are endless and it’s difficult to decide how much is too much. Many young people will want to watch the latest series in order to stay relevant and up to date for conversations while hanging out with friends otherwise they fear that they may be missing out.
Many students find themselves addicted to social media. In 2020, so much of our lives depend on our mobile phones. We study, look at our calendar, order food, read, communicate with friends etc. Spending this much time on our phone creates complications with the way our brain functions. The full implications of the harm that social media addiction has on our health won’t be fully determined for years.
Cannabis has become more popular among young people in some areas since the legalisation of the drug, creating more serious problems from the increased drug use than in areas where cannabis is still illegal. Some people can function perfectly when using cannabis, but this is not the case for most people and will have long lasting damaging effects. For many people, consuming cannabis regularly for months can lead to serious consequences like depression and mood swings, and for students, this can have an impact on their academics and their potential for a bright future may be compromised. I have witnessed some really bright athletes and artistic creators damage potential and find themselves in a place which they didn’t intend or want to be due to cannabis or other drug use. That’s the power of addiction.
Cigarettes and alcohol are easily available, normalised and accepted. This form of addiction seems to be the biggest threat to young people in my opinion. Having spent the last two months in Swansea, I definitely sense alcoholism is growing among the youth in the UK much more than before. ‘The Truth About Alcohol’ documentary was very insightful. Alcohol is not just fun and games, it has the potential to take over one’s personality and ‘spirit’ and can have serious health consequences later on in their life. Alcohol and cigarettes have and will continue to destroy lives and minds.
With most classes being online, handling the pressure of coursework and exam submissions and too much uncertainty around the virus, many students are finding themselves unhappy in the house with nowhere to go. After living a lifetime of relative freedom, then being told to not see anyone, stay indoors and not go to work without knowing when life will resume back to normal was very uncomfortable for a lot of people. Becoming addicted to something would have been very easy for a lot of people. Frequently a lot of people who never tried a substance before being put into jail, have come out as addicts and the same principal unfortunately applies to many people during this year and especially among students. When we are young, we learn and develop a lot of habits. It’s easy to develop bad habits but may not be seen as a big deal in the short term but could have serious damaging effects later on in life if the habits continue.
If we look at the big picture, an addiction can lead to more addictions, which can lead to compulsive and obsessive behaviour – without one even realising it. Someone who you wouldn’t expect to behave a certain way, may end up surprising you in just a few months. During this year, the virus, fear and panic has become a perfect breeding ground for many types’ addiction.
If the issues in this article affect you, you can contact the Swansea University Wellbeing department for help.