Addict Nation: An Intervention for Americaby Jane Velez-Mitchell, Sandra Mohr
Americans are being lured into addiction. And what we're hooked on isn't necessarily illegal or even hard to come by. Prescription medications are making us high. Fast food is making us fat. The Internet keeps us constantly distracted with everything from gambling and porn to compulsive social networking. Television bombards us with glamorized violence. From
Americans are being lured into addiction. And what we're hooked on isn't necessarily illegal or even hard to come by. Prescription medications are making us high. Fast food is making us fat. The Internet keeps us constantly distracted with everything from gambling and porn to compulsive social networking. Television bombards us with glamorized violence. From billboards, to online pop ups, to commercials. . . we're seduced into buying more stuff we don't need while we drown in growing debt. Massive profits fill the pockets of a handful of 'pushers' at the expense of everyone else. Corporations, government, and the media are creating the illusion that the more we have, the better we are, and so we crave whatever they're selling and become addicted to their products in the process. Americans are being seduced into self-destructivebehavior on a mass scale. It's time to take our power back. In her trademark no-holds-barred style, Jane Velez-Mitchell asks, 'Do you really want to be a slave, existing just to make someone else rich and powerful?' If the answer is no, then read this book. Addict Nation is our blueprint for change, but first we must see what is really going on. This in an intervention.
Health Communications, Inc.
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Addiction runs deep in American culture, and it's not just drugs. "Addict Nation: An Intervention for America" is Jane Velez-Mitchell's call for America to fight its addictions, and she's not just talking illegal drugs. Everything from food to pornography to social networking she claims is taking control of our lives and its up to each American to shake the monkey off of their own backs. "Addict Nation" is a fascinating and very solidly recommended pick for anyone concerned about America's overall health.
Jane Velez-Mitchell & Sandra Mohr
Health Communications Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th St., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
0757315453, $24.95, www.hcibooks.com
ADDICT NATION: AN INTERVENTION FOR AMERICA analyzes how addictions have robbed Americans of their basic freedoms of choice, with freedoms coming through marketing and packaging designed to get us hooked on everything from drugs to shopping. ADDICT NATION comes from a recovering addict who asks if addiction is being marketed by big business - and how to resist its lure. Health and social issues collections alike will find this a thought-provoking 'must'.
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Read an Excerpt
Why This Book Will Change Your Life
The other night I went to a charity event at a sprawling private home in the hills of Los Angeles. I parked in front of a house down the block, got out of the car, and found myself staring at a distinctive front door. With a start, I realized, 'Hey, that's the place I hit bottom fifteen years ago.' Yep, it was through that fancy door that I was carried out of that house over someone's shoulder . . . in an alcoholic blackout. I remembered the house only because a friend of mine had lived there and I had visited it often . . . until that wild, out-of-control night.
It was great to be confronted by that memory because it put in sharp relief how much better my life has become in the decade and a half that I've been sober. Standing there in the near darkness, those crazy years when my drinking was out of control sped through my mind like a movie stuck in fast forward.
As I walked away and headed toward the party where a chic Hollywood crowd was gathering, I felt immense gratitude. I no longer had to worry about what inappropriate thing I might do or say as the night wore on. I knew that the next day I would remember everything that happened at the party. I knew I would not have to phone anyone the next morning for a 'damage assessment,' nor would I have to apologize for anything I did or said. There would be no embarrassment or remorse or worry. In other words, I felt completely free. More than anything else, that's what sobriety is: FREEDOM!
Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to experience that same freedom! Right now you might be thinking, The nerve of that Jane, to assume whoever's reading this book is an alcoholic! No, I'm not jumping to that conclusion, but I am making a pretty safe bet that you are an addict. Why? Because virtually everyone in America is hooked on something. We are a nation of addicts! In Addict Nation, you'll learn how you and I, and other Americans, are being lured into a slew of addictions that are supremely self-destructive. They're making us high. They're making us overweight. They're keeping us constantly distracted. They're trivializing our most important relationships. They're putting us in debt. And they're destroying our natural world. We're all becoming slaves to our worst impulses. We are giving up our freedoms.
Sadly, what's happening is the exact opposite of what our Founding Fathers had in mind. The United States of America was created precisely to celebrate 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' Freedom of choice is the underlying premise of our society. That means we get to decide how we live our lives, how we spend our money, what we eat and wear, and how we relax in our 'free' time.
I love the freedoms I have as an American, and I never take them for granted. In fact, that's why I've written this book. It's crucial that we Americans confront the huge addiction epidemic that is robbing us of our ability to make rational choices in our own true self-interest.
Enslavement comes in many different forms. It's not always someone pointing a gun at you or building a wall to keep you where you are. There is also psychological and emotional bondage. If you know intellectually that you are on the verge of making a bad choice, and, still, you cannot stop yourself, then you are just as enslaved as if somebody were pointing a gun at you. Either way, you do not have what it takes to say no to self-defeating behavior.
Addiction Is Determining Our Behavior
We're all familiar with the obvious addictions: drugs and alcohol. Those obsessions have been with us since Adam first met Eve. They plucked their first grapes and discovered the mind-altering beverage that resulted from the fermentation process. There's even the occasional reference to alcoholism in the Bible. Addictions have gone forth and multiplied since biblical times. We now have many more temptations to seduce us into dangerous and even deadly choices. Symbolically, the snake may have first starred in the role of pusher by beguiling Eve into eating the apple, who passed it to Adam, getting them both thrown out of Eden. Today, there are many complex forces, not unlike that serpent, which beguile us into bad behavior for their own purposesusually for profit and power.
Increasingly, almost everything being presented to us as a 'free choice' is being packaged and sold in a way that's designed to get us hooked in order to guarantee that we keep coming back for more. To offer just one obvious example, there's increasing evidence that fast food is addictive, which would go a long way toward explaining our obesity crisis. The psychologically addictive component is the constant drumbeat of advertizing to encourage fast food consumption, combined with its easy availability. The physically addictive component is fast food's high levels of sugar, salt, and fat, ingredients now being tied to compulsive consumption.1
For another example, one need look no further than our current foreclosure mess. Mortgages were offered to millions of people who really couldn't afford them. Predatory mortgage brokers got their cut and didn't seem to care what happened to the house or the homeowner after they sealed the deal. These seductive lending policies triggered an addictive binge of spending and overconsumption as people who bought homes above their means proceeded to furnish them using high-interest-rate credit cards. Eventually the house of (easy credit) cards crumbled. We were culturally intoxicated on a cocktail of complex lies, and now we're all reeling from the hangover. All except the very rich, that is. They just keep getting richer, as America's wealth divide continues to widen. In almost every case, there is huge money to be made on seducing you into addictive behavior. Ask yourself, Do I really want to be a slave, existing just to make someone else rich and powerful? No, you say? Well, then, read on.
Freedom of choice implies that you have the free will to make a rational choice. Freedom of choice implies you are capable of deciding what is in your true self-interest. Addiction messes with that equation. Addiction, by definition, is being powerless to say no to a particular substance or behavior that generally gives you a quick hit of pleasure, but which often results in long-term pain or other negative consequences.
The Big Issue Is Addiction
Virtually every story I cover on my HLN TV show Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell is, in some way, shape, or form about addiction. Let's examine some of the biggest stories of our time. In each case, the BIG ISSUE is addiction.
Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, DJ AM, Heath Ledger . . . these are just a few of the tragic headliners who've showcased the nation's epidemic of prescription drug addiction. There's even a hit show for high-profile drug addicts: Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Kirstie Alley has become the national symbol for our collective battle with obesity. She spilled her guts about her rollercoaster ride down and up the scale to Oprah, who could relate because she too has waged a long and very public losing battle with her weight. Could these two supertalented women perhaps be addicted to food? With nineteen kids and counting, the Duggars are clearly hooked on making babies . . . and getting on television. Ditto for the Octomom, plus John and Kate. With a baker's dozen of alleged mistresses, is it really a stretch to wonder if Tiger Woods was hooked on sex?
Okay, those are all famous people. So what? Do you really think stars are the only ones who grapple with compulsions like serial infidelity, overpopulation, pill popping, and gluttony? No. The only difference between stars and the rest of us is . . . their addictive behavior seems somehow more glamorous, more fascinating. And we all get to watch.
Addiction Often Comes Packaged as a Harmless Distraction
What's surpassed baseball as our number-one national pastime? Crime. America's extreme fixation on violence and murder has reached epidemic proportions. A beautiful Tennessee TV news anchorwoman is raped and murdered while minding her own business in her own home, a Georgia mom is abducted while walking down a country road near her parents' house, a little girl is kidnapped near a bus stop in California and held for eighteen years while her captor rapes her repeatedly, fathering two children by her. It seems every day brings a new horror story. And we're hooked! We want to know every last detail!
On my show Issues, I talk about our culture of violence and insist that, as we cover these stories, we analyze the root societal causes of crime and look for solutions lest we become just another showcase for the pornography of violence. Ironically, addiction itself is one of the most common causes of crime. People who are drunk or high on drugs are capable of monstrous violence they would never even consider while sober and often rob to support their habit. In fact, the title of this book came out of a recurring segment on my show called 'Addict Nation,' where my expert panel and I discuss how addiction is the underlying theme of so much disturbing news.
America's crime addiction can be seen in our obsession with the mass shooting du jour and the wild televised car chases. We all know how those car chases end. The suspect is always caught. Yet, we remain glued to the live coverage, drinking in the 'suspense.' After drugs, booze, and food, crime is perhaps our most potent and pervasive form of escape. You may now be thinking, What's wrong with a little escapism? Is that really an addiction?
Escapism is the root cause of all addiction. The motive for any addictive behavior is always the same: to stuff down and escape painful feelings and unpleasant truths by altering one's mental and emotional state with the addictive substance/behavior. Addiction is all about altering reality by 'using' to tweak one's mood. The drug of choice may vary from addict to addict, but the purpose of using is always the same. Different addicts drive different cars, but they're all heading to the same destination. Oblivion.
Human beings are capable of becoming addicted to virtually anythingfrom plastic surgery to tattoos to texting. I can tell you from personal experience that addictions jump from one substance to another. When I gave up boozevoila, sugar popped up to take its place as my new obsession. Over the years, I've given up alcohol, drugs, sugar, meat, dairy, diet soda, violent movies, and a variety of other bad habits. But new addictions just keep cropping up. That's because all the behavior is driven by the same motive: to 'check out,' to numb, and to escape.
Meet the Author
Jane Velez-Mitchell (New York) is the host of the nightly news show Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell on HLN and is often seen commenting on high-profile cases for CNN, Court TV, E!, and other national TV shows. A recovering alcoholic with fifteen years of sobriety, she is the author of The New York Times bestseller iWant: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life and Secrets Can Be Murder: What America's Most Sensational Crimes Tell Us About Ourselves. Visit the author at CNN.com/Jane.
Sandra Mohr is an award-winning director and editor for broadcast television. She recently released the documentary Stock Shock, which examines the collapse of Wall Street ethics. Mohr also edited the award-winning documentary Behind the Mask. Visit mohr-productions.com.
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