Off late I have been glued to this series on Netflix called Elementary. Elementary is about detective Sherlock Holmes & his assistant Dr. Watson set in modern day New York. Mr. Holmes is a recovering heroin addict who is a consultant to the NYPD to investigate crimes along with his partner Joan Watson.
So why am I talking about this? Not only because it is an interesting series and I’m hooked on to it but also because alongside the main plot of detective work there are many parallel stories running and one of them is about Sherlock’s journey towards remaining sober after a couple of years of addiction.
When we talk about intoxication generally, what comes to our mind is drug abuse or alcoholism. We also might think of pollution and environmental exposure. However, there is more to intoxication and addiction than these basic factors.
Starting with the basic definitions – One of the definitions of intoxication is an abnormal state that is essentially a poisoning by the action of a chemical substance or toxic substance. Another definition says exhilaration, excitement or euphoria. Addiction is defined as strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (gamble). Both intoxication and addictions are harmful to the body either physically or emotionally.
Following are the different kinds of intoxications that we encounter
- Controllable intoxication
- Uncontrollable intoxication
- Intoxication that leads to addiction
- Addictions that cause intoxication
This categorization will help in choosing the method and steps for detoxification. Watch this space for details on detoxification.
A ) Controllable intoxication: This includes intoxication by chemicals through consumption chemicals or due to faulty dietary habits.
Intoxication caused by medication
When I was in my second year of engineering, I started suffering from headaches. I assumed it was due to the long hours – partly doing assignments and the rest of the time reading books (not engineering relatedJ). Having made this assumption in my head and not wanting mom to stop my reading, I did not tell her. Instead, I started having a Disprin whenever the headaches would pop up. Slowly this started becoming a daily affair. Eventually one pill was not sufficient to stop the headache and so I started taking two a day and then three and eventually needed four pills a day to make the headaches go. This is when I eventually told mom and after getting a good hearing from her, we worked on getting rid of the headaches. This was an intoxication caused by medicines, where the body started adapting to the medicines. Any medicine (antibiotics, analgesics, hormones, sedatives, tranquilizers, diuretics etc) absorbed in exaggerated doses, over a long period, without medical supervision may lead to severe intoxication
This is a very common and well-known form of intoxication. The following cause this
- One of the causes of this is the contamination of food. Foods containing a large amount of artificial coloring and seasoning that exceed human tolerance, mixing of inedible substances like saw dust, sand, marble chips stones and other adulterations all cause dietary intoxication.
- Over consumption of ready to eat packaged food, food with unbalanced or very little nutritive value too is not good.
- Binge eating, eating at incorrect times, too much snacking, too much cola or sweets etc also fall in this category of intoxication.
B) Uncontrollable intoxication: This includes intoxication caused due to environmental factors or due to age. While this kind of intoxication is uncontrollable, there corrective as well as preventive measures for detoxification.
Intoxication from work or environment
Many groups of workers are exposed daily to different kinds of intoxication such as carbon monoxide, dyes, X Rays, sulphur, phosphorous (match factories), cotton fibers (textile mills) etc. This also applies to people working in different laboratories, mines, foundries, oil refineries. While most employers take the necessary precaution for their employees who are exposed to such environmental toxins, this exposure over a long period cause a gradual state of intoxication.
Similarly, the pollutants in the environment, harmful plastics that we use in our daily life and other such products are also responsible for intoxication.
Intoxication due to Senility
This is one of the uncontrollable causes of intoxication caused by ageing. This affects every human being at a different age. Ageing slows down the response from the body, cells, and facilitates hardening of the body. This intoxication cannot be completely avoided but can be delayed. Delaying the state of intoxication can be achieved by staying healthy and looking after yourself.
C) Intoxication that leads to addiction: This is the kind of intoxication where in we feed the body with toxins and eventually the body becomes dependant on these substances. This is when you get addicted and cannot do without these toxins. This form of intoxication is more difficult to correct since it involves a mental as well as a physical change.
Abuse of all kinds
This is what we actually think of when the word intoxication is used. This includes abuse of alcohol, dopamine, narcotic drugs, tobacco, caffeine etc. Besides this a careless lifestyle which leads to abusive habits like overworking, staying up too late – insomnia or lack of sleep, sleeping too much in the day, over exposure to sun, binge eating etc.
Anything that our body is doing more or less than the required durations or proportions, which in turn gets the body addicted to it would be termed as abuse. Frequently we tend to ignore this dependence on any of the above-mentioned habits and try to convince ourselves that we can give up these addictions whenever we want. This is one of the biggest mistakes we make – it’s the biggest lie we tell ourselves.
D) Addictions that cause intoxication : This is the intoxication that causes disturbance in the mental state more than the physical state. Here there are certain habits which become addictions and eventually iare a cause of intoxication. This form of intoxication is very difficult to recognize and identify. Also being a kind of addiction the detoxification process is a difficult and a lengthy one.
Emotional Intelligence is the capacity of individuals to recognize their own as well as other people’s emotions. It is the ability to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
We all harbor negative feelings at some time or the other as well as at times we find ourselves at the receiving end of others negativity. Negative emotions such as ‘jealousy’, ‘hatred’, ‘anger’, ‘over-excitement’, ‘anxiety’, ‘grief’ etc. are also one of the major causes of intoxication. These not only affect us but also the people around us. Obviously, it goes without saying that these emotions also affect our chances of advancement, undermines our spare time and periods of rest. The constant thinking leaves us exhausted, tired, frustrated and irritated. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is often unconscious and without strict personal observation could eventually lead to serious depressions or other issues of the mind. This is one of the most difficult intoxications to identify.
Intoxication due to social media
Social media comes with lot of benefits the most obvious ones are (re)connecting with friends, finding groups with common interests and thus help in developing hobbies. Also on the professional front, it is easier to know about job opportunities available and to display skills.
I recently came across an article on one of the mommy groups that I am a part of where this mommy had been to a party after a very long time to celebrate women’s day. She was surprised to see how most of the people instead of enjoying were busy clicking pictures of each other, selfies or of what they were eating. In our days, while we did not really click so many pictures. We were actually enjoying being there making memories rather than spending time clicking. Just had a thought about the memories today’s youngsters will share with their kids – would be something like this “In 2013 we had been to Hongkong and clicked 2400 pictures” , “On new years of 2016 we had gone to a party and clicked 500 selfies”.
Coming to Facebook, most of us have that one (or more) friend who constantly keeps checking in at every place they visit and we are like “Ye to bathroom se bhi checkin karta hoga (His next check-in might just be from the restroom)”.
Jokes apart, there are instances when social networking becomes a bane instead of a boon. Status updates and check –ins are done just to show off, status updates are used instead of face to face conversations, stalking of exes and or people we may not be too fond of. These are very common occurrences and one must understand where to draw the line.
One of the famous quotes of Will Smith – “We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care.” This is the effect that social media is having on many of us. Researchers from California State University-Fullerton say social media obsession may lead to something akin to classical addiction. Click here for more on social media addiction
In my personal opinion, it is healthy to share certain accomplishments or certain things close to your heart with your online friend community, or if you have done something new or different. I too am quite active on the social networks, love clicking pictures as well as selfies. However if this clicking or sharing becomes a game of competition, of one-upmanship or to make certain people jealous that’s when you need to step back and take stock of your actions. This is when you know that you are a victim of social intoxication.
Well, knowing and identifying the different sources of intoxicants is just a beginning. Each of us need to step back, evaluate our lifestyle and figure out the kind of intoxicants that we are exposed to the most. This would be our first step towards our detoxification journey. More on the detailed process for detoxification coming soon!