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Opinion

Addiction: compulsive need for a habit forming substance

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February 7, 2008

Now that winter break has come to a close and we are all readjusting to our normal lives of school, work and play, it becomes crucial to establish the kind of level-headed, even keel that leads to success and good grades.

Becoming a good student requires many things: time management, a healthy sleep schedule and a day-in, day-out work ethic. Perhaps more important than any of these is the willingness and honesty to come to terms with your own addictions.

We talk about addiction all the time in our obsession-obsessed culture. How many times have you heard “OMG I am like, soooo hardcore addicted to Facebook,” or, “I am obsessed with paint thinner and Peanut M&Ms!”? It makes you wonder if addiction is really that bad—people fling the term around with a kind of nonchalance that spoils the weighty severity of the word. In fact, it seems that addictions are getting lamer and lamer. In decades past, we had cultural icons like Hunter S. Thompson, who routinely thrashed his brain with a sparkly cocktail of intravenous drugs. Now we have people seeking treatment because they can’t help but spend ten hours a day killing orcs on the internet. Aren’t addictions supposed to be a little more dangerous? Could these people at least play World of Warcraft while shooting black-tar heroine or bathtub crank?

While online addictions can be inconvenient and financially costly, they lack the substantial element of “cool” that makes the ruination of your life all worth it.

Other addictions are even lamer. Gambling, for instance, is an exceedingly pointless addiction. It’s fun to do from time to time, of course. But when it becomes a compulsion, gambling can make even the most dignified, mature people look impulsive and pathetic.

Mathematically, there is no real pay-off in gambling: you dump the contents of your wallet into a machine or onto a table, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose most of it. For the non-addict, gambling is a fun and exciting outing with friends. For the compulsive slot-cranker, however, gambling represents an unmatched exercise in futility.

So this semester, take inventory of all your addictions, compulsions and vices. If you need to trim a few off to save your mind, your money and your time, make sure it happens. Don’t you think that it may be difficult to attend class every day if you’re all wankered out on Maui-wowie, cruising on trans-fatty acids or surfing Facebook nonstop? Let the online dragons kill the online orcs—it’s not your fight anymore. With luck, we can all become the moderation-minded, good-grade-earning students our parents want us to be.

Joe Hager is a student at UW-River Falls.