Game of Thrones: A close up look at the background of the most followed, most addictive, most provoking anthology

People go back to their inherent traits and instincts of sex and violence. A lot of people have lately felt attracted to watching gore and violent scenes which is what Game of Thrones is rich in. People tend to use violence when they feel threatened. They feel the need to protect themselves and their offspring and family. Game of Thrones highlights that idea through each of the 7 family groups portrayed: for example, the Stark’s and Lannister’s violent mishaps with one another during the early seasons. Another example is Cersei’s use of such violence to destroy anyone who stood between her son and the crown.

Freedom in sexual behavior is another component in people’s need to express themselves sexually without limitations or boundaries. It is a sort of “free speech”. People like to have the freedom in choosing partners in this day and age. Sexual expression in 2019 has become a very popular topic and Game of Thrones addresses this sexual freedom overtly. The show still portrays punishments associated with the sexual freedom but shows how characters still follow their desires when it comes to their sexual orientation and pleasure.

Another factor would be the role of women. How they rise up and take big roles like rulers of realms and cities. They get the chance to be on the iron throne even with other male candidates around. One of the strongest females in Game of Thrones is Khaleesi. She is portrayed as someone who would soon rule the 7 kingdoms which is my prediction for this upcoming and last season. She is an example of strong “bad ass” woman. She has overcome the cruelty of her brother who sold her to gain power and gold. She went through the loss of her husband who was her biggest supporter. She has risen to power by her determination and fairness, She is a beloved character and the most popular.

The struggle for people is an example of what’s happening in the world today. It provokes thinking about who rises to power and why. It focuses on the influence of monarchies and the disappearance of democracy and its effect on the wellbeing of the people. The power struggle is the biggest component of how people relate this show to the real world. All of the 7 houses are fighting to get to the iron throne. They all want to get to highest level so that they would have the power over all of the people in this fictional world. The fight has started from season 1 until the end of the last season. In this last season, we will discover who is the fittest of them all. It is the most intriguing question that has kept the audience of this show on their toes since it begun.

The development and progression of characters offer a sense of complexity. The plot and scene evokes a sense of curiosity and frustration which grabs the attention of the watcher. It provides a more intellectual way of thinking and forces people to ponder about what the relation of things and how they are developing. Throughout the show people keep getting frusterated  by seeing the bad ones do many bad things without getting caught or punished. Because that frustration is hardly released, people keep watching the show hoping that the bad guys will get punished specifically when Joffrey  (the son of Cersei) took the iron throne. He was the most vile character presented in the show. He has risen so high in power that people didn’t think he would meet his end the way he did, this was the part that made people curious the most.

These characters still go through regular mental issues in an indirect way. It portrays personality disorders, PTSD and even psychopathy in the characters presented. For example, Arya having PTSD. She has been traumatized by witnessing the death of her father though execution and seeing her brother being dragged in the street after his death. Arya is full if of rage and has developed a sense of vengeance on the world. She now hunts and kills those who infest the earth as a way of cleaning the world from the worst people. Joffrey would be the biggest example of someone who has psychopathy. He lacks empathy and is very manipulative. He enjoys making people suffer and has been obsessed with power. He has gained a lot of influence over the people by being charming and manipulative. His mother Cersei would be a great example of someone who has a narcissistic personality as she views herself as being better than everyone. She has allowed her son to go to extreme lengths to get what he wants in the most barbaric ways. These characters all exhibit various family issues, focus on the role of the two genders and the different environmental influences on these characters. It also feeds a little bit on the biggest psychological question about nature vs nurture.

Behavioral Addictions

Among all pleasure-inducing behaviors that may cause an addictive pattern, Gambling is the only one formally recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a behavioral addiction. This could be because less-common behaviors aren’t as thoroughly researched. However, certain behaviors can release the same chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, that some substances release. These chemicals cause a desirable, or pleasurable, experience that can sometimes generate an addiction. Gambling disorder is becoming a widely spread practice, specifically in the United States where a large survey revealed that about 0.5% of people have had a gambling disorder in their lifetime. Even more concerning, “problem gambling” – a more mild form of gambling – possibly effects up to four times more people.

Behavioral addiction disorder is not as common as substance use disorder, and that could possibly be due to the fact that behaviors do not influence a person’s state of mind as strongly or regularly as substances do. That’s not to say that behavioral addictions aren’t harmful; gambling can cause financial problems and eating addiction can cause obesity and health issues. Every type of addiction poses a harm to the individual engaged in the behavior or substance, therefore it’s important to recognize when one’s behavior or use is out of the ordinary. In order to be more aware of whether or not gambling is a problem, refer to the following list. If you experience four of the nine listed behaviors within a year, you may have an addiction to gambling:

  • Gambling preoccupies your mind
  • To achieve the desired excited, you increase the amount of money when gambling
  • You have repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, attempted to quit
  • When attempting to quit, you are irritable or restless
  • Gambling is used as an escape from any present problems or bad moods
  • You tend to return to gambling after losing, as an attempt to win
  • You tend to lie to people around you to hide your gambling problem
  • Gambling has jeopardized or caused you to lose a job, relationship, educational or career opportunity
  • You tend to rely on other people for money to fix financial problems caused by gambling

Stimulant Use

Stimulant drugs increase one’s energy and attention. Stimulant drugs come in three common forms, which are known as: amphetamines (speed), methamphetamines (meth), and cocaine. Amphetamines and methamphetamines are prescription medications used to treat health problems – specifically, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Nonetheless, they are also sold illegally on the streets under different names. Cocaine, on the other hand, is illegal in all its forms. Individuals use stimulant drugs to experience a high or improve their performance due to their ability to make users feel happy, energized, and mentally alert. Despite producing a pleasant high, they also cause prevent sleep, suppress the appetite, heavy use may lead to feeling suspicious, paranoid, and some may even experience psychosis – an extreme sense of lost touch with reality.

Excessive use of these drugs, in rare cases, can lead to an abnormal increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which is life-threatening. Each of these stimulant drugs come in different forms and have a different method of use to achieve a high. Illegal amphetamines go by the street names ‘uppers’ and ‘speed’, and are sold in the form of powders, pills, as well as other forms. Street methamphetamines is commonly known as ‘meth’ and comes in the form of powders, pills, or crystal-like rocks.

An estimate of 872,000 people in 2015 had disordered methamphetamines use. On the other hand, disordered cocaine use during the same year was estimated at 900,000. Cocaine is known on the streets as ‘coke’, ‘flake’, ‘snow’, ‘blow’, and ‘crack’. The drug is smoked, injected, or snorted to achieve the desired high. Although cocaine causes individuals to feel energized, happy, and alert, it also leads blood vessels to constrict and body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate to increase.

Quitting stimulant drugs without any professional supervision is dangerous. Severe depression, fatigue, and anxiety are some of the withdrawal symptoms that an individual can experience. It’s very important to begin the process of quitting stimulant use under a professional that can monitor the individuals mental and physical state in regards to withdrawal symptoms. Quitting can be difficult and challenging, but it is not impossible.

To determine whether your substance use is problematic, please refer to our Substance Use Self-Assessment here.

 

Opioid Use

The term ‘opioid’ is used to describe substances that affect the central nervous system in the brain by binding to a group of receptors that exist there. The human brain naturally produces opioids called ‘endorphins’, which act as a natural pain-reliever

. Some associate the release of endorphins in the brain with what is known as a “runner’s high” – a decreased ability to feel pain, a euphoric feeling, and reduced anxiety after a long run or workout. Opioids are synthetically produced for both prescription and recreational purposes to replicate the feeling of endorphin release in the brain. There are three broad types of opioids, which are as follow:

  • Natural opioids exist in the Asian opium poppy plant. The substance is extracted from the plant and used to produce illegal opioids or medication, such as codeine and morphine.
  • Semi-synthetic opioids are naturally occurring opioids that have been chemically altered in a synthetic manner. These opioids are turned into what we know as hydrocodone, oxycodone, heroin, oxycontin, percocet, percodan, and vicodin. Some of these are produced for illegal use, while others are prescription medication.
  • Fully synthetic opioids include meperidine, fentanyl, and hydromorphone. This type of opioids are completely produced in the lab using other chemicals.

Aside from feeling strong relief from their pain, opioid users can experience a feeling of euphoria and well-being. Individuals can also experience drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting; and among continuous users these drugs cause constipation.

Constipation is especially concerning due to its danger to individuals with heart problems and susceptibility to stroke, because in some instances when individuals are pushing down for a bowel movement, a heart attack or stroke can be triggered. Opioid addiction withdrawal symptoms include muscle and bone pain, involuntary leg movement, diarrhea, cold flashes, vomiting, insomnia, and restlessness. These symptoms can last somewhere between a week and a few months, depending on the individual.

Users who overdose on opioids can die due to the drugs’ ability to slow breathing down to dangerous levels, or even completely stop it. In 2014, opioid overdose accounted for 61% of all deaths from drug overdose. The adverse consequences of these drugs don’t stop there. In fact, opioids taken through injection, such as heroin, increase the risk of users transmitting and getting HIV-AIDS and hepatitis C. Also, research has revealed that prescription opioid abuse has led to an increased use of both heroin and fentanyl.

As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), prescription opioid abuse led to the use of 80% of new heroin users. In 2012, doctors prescribed opioids to an estimated 259 million people in the United States, about 82% of the population at the time – a very concerning issue given the dangerous consequences of opioid abuse. As a result, doctors have become very careful about prescribing opioids on a regular basis. If your doctor prescribed you opioids for pain relief, the following tips may be helpful in preventing opioid abuse:

  • Continue to inform your doctor about any and every medication you are taking.
  • Follow your doctor’s directions for taking your medication.
  • Go over the information your pharmacist provided you before taking your medication.
  • Ask about your medication before taking it.
  • Properly dispose of any leftover addictive medications after your purpose of use had ended.

It’s important to note that people with an addiction to prescription opioids most commonly obtain the drugs from friends and family.

To determine whether your substance use is problematic, please refer to our Substance Use Self-Assessment here.

Cannabis use

Cannabis use is increasingly common. A study in the United States in 2015 revealed that 22 million Americans reported being current users of cannabis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 9% of marijuana users end up becoming dependent on the drug. There are many different ways in which someone can use cannabis to achieve a high.

People may smoke it, vaporize it, and inhale it in the form of cigarettes, water pipes, and blunts. Some individuals mix it with with candies, as well as some types of foods and beverages. Although users generally experience a feeling of euphoria and relaxation, laughter, sharper senses, an altered sense of time, and a heightened appetite; some experience negative emotions, such as paranoia, fear, anxiety, panic, or distrust.

In most countries, cannabis use is illegal and punishable by law. However, in recent years, several countries legalized recreational use of cannabis, while others only legalized the medicinal use of the substance due to significant research results proving its benefit in improving certain mental and physical illnesses.

Although, a study done in 2017 revealed that in certain States where cannabis for medical use was legal, the percentage of individuals with a cannabis use disorder was significantly higher than the States where it was illegal. Regardless of medically supervised cannabis use, recreational use can result in adverse consequences and addiction. During teenage years, heavy recreational use may affect brain development and an increased risk of mental illness. If a cannabis user decides to quit, they may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which include the following:

  • Mood and sleep problems
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Physical discomfort
  • Restlessness

To determine whether your substance use is problematic, please refer to our Substance Use Self-Assessment here.

Alcohol Use

In many cultures worldwide alcohol is widely accepted as an ordinary practice. Many people enjoy alcoholic beverages daily, whether they are at home, out with friends, or during a work function. Some do not experience any negative consequences or become addicted to the substance.

However, others do. According to research done in the United States, in the age group of 18 and older one in five Americans were found to have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol, along with nicotine, is the most commonly used addictive substance. The effect that alcohol users get from drinking is a sedative one, seeing as alcohol is a depressant, meaning the central nervous system in the brain slows down when someone is under the influence of alcohol.

This causes users to lose their inhibitions, which is the reason why under the influence, people tend to be more social and more talkative. Alcohol causes impairment in both judgement and coordination, an impairment that could lead to dangerous consequences and behaviors, such as drunk driving. Individuals heavily under the influence of alcohol may experience an impairment in balance, unclear and slurred speech, feeling nauseous, disturbed sleep, vomiting, and in some cases people may lose consciousness. Some of the long-term effects of alcohol use include the following:

·         Liver disease

·         Heart disease

·         Cancer

·         Shrinking and impairment of the brain

Quitting without assistance for excessive alcohol drinkers can be dangerous. For some, even life-threatening. People suffering with an alcohol addiction can experience risky withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit. Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, shaking, fatigue, headache, increased blood pressure and heart rate, nausea or vomiting, muscle tension, flushing, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Individual’s dependent on alcohol and are attempting to quit should do so under professional supervision.

To determine whether your substance use is problematic, please refer to our Substance Use Self-Assessment here. 

 

Nicotine Use

Nicotine, as we commonly know it, comes in the form of cigarettes. Along with alcohol, nicotine is the most used addictive substance. In a 2015 survey done in the United States, 14% of women and 17% of men smoked. Nicotine affects one’s mental state by making them feel energized, alert, and mentally sharp. Although people experience a mild type of “high” after smoking, nicotine does not trigger the feeling of pleasure or euphoria that other drugs of abuse offer.

Smokers tend to feel calm after a smoke, but research has indicated that the calming effect people experience is in fact a feeling of relief from the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, and not a direct effect of nicotine. However high the number of smokers is, and however satisfying the effects of nicotine are, the majority of smokers are very much aware of the the harmful effects smoking has on their health. Each year in the united states, an estimate of 480,000 people are killed as a result of smoking.

Smokers are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, pneumonia, cold and flu, and much more. Despite these adverse and harmful consequences, individuals with an addiction to nicotine continue to smoke.

However, an average smoker makes several attempts to quit throughout the course of their addiction before quitting for good – eight to ten times to be exact. Smokers experience an array of withdrawal symptoms in the course of their journey to quit, which include: craving cigarettes, impatience, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, lack of concentration, hunger, possible weight gain, nasal drip, dry throat, coughing, gas, and constipation. Withdrawal symptoms resulting from one’s attempt to quit are uncomfortable and difficult to experience, but individuals can easily learn to cope with these symptoms. Quitting is possible for those willing to put in the effort to do so. It is not an easy journey, but one that is worthwhile.

Alternatives:

Although they result in their own harmful effects, there are several different alternatives to cigarettes. These alternatives include the following:

  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Hookahs
  • Pipes
  • Cigars

Each one of these alternatives may also lead to a harmful effect on one’s health and progress. Electronic cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes, but due to users’ continuation of regular cigarettes as well, the effect they have on smokers quitting is unclear. Hookahs are much more harmful than initially thought. In fact, smoking hookah for one hour exposes a person to 200 times the amount of smoke from that of cigarette smoking. Therefore, it is considered to be worse than cigarettes, rather than a safer alternative. As for pipes and cigar smokers, they are exposed to a higher risk of neck and head cancers.

To determine whether your substance use is problematic, please refer to our Substance Use Self-Assessment here.

 

Risk Factors for Addiction

To make sense of the reasons as to why some people become addicted to certain objects, it may help to understand the risk factors that could lead to addiction. Seeking the momentary euphoric pleasure that accompanies use is not the only reason people continue to use

Rewards gained from the object of addiction are offered through other means, such as social, psychological, or biological. These rewards are what causes the individual to continue the substance or behavior, because they make harmful objects of addiction seem appealing to users. They fulfill a certain need to them, and often that need is unknown to the individual.

An important part of recovery is for the individual to learn which need the substance or behavior fulfills, and finding other, safer ways of fulfilling it. There are certain factors that may play a role in the addiction and the recovery process, these include the following:

  • Genes: Some studies suggest that the risk for addiction is about 50% genetically based. Although it is not highly researched, the evidence found so far is enough to consider the risk. Researchers have proposed that some people may have genes that predispose them to addiction, however not to a specific type of addiction. Meaning, this cluster of genes predispose individuals to any type of addiction.
  • Environment: Possibly the most common risk factor, an individual’s environment may play a part in leading to addiction. For example, people abused as children, experienced trauma, or faced challenges in their lifetime may be more prone to addiction than those who weren’t. That is not to say that everyone who was exposed to a difficult environment will end up becoming an addict.
  • Youth: People are particularly vulnerable to addiction during their youth (adolescence to early adulthood), due to hormonal changes and a brain incomplete in its development. These factors put together increase pleasure-seeking and risk-taking behaviors.
  • Mental illness: Experts in the field strongly believe that people with mental illness are especially vulnerable to addiction. It is believed that they both overlap due to the fact that people with anxiety, depression, or a personality disorder may seek to find ways to relieve their mental suffering. This relief is often found through the object of addiction.

Natural Recovery from Addiction

Research has found that in some cases, people are able to quit their object of addiction on their own, without the help of a professional or support group. This process is called ‘natural recovery’.

Individuals suffering from a substance use disorder or behavioral addiction attempt to quit several times before actually quitting. That is because quitting is difficult and challenging. It can also be quite uncomfortable. However, it is not impossible; and the more an individual attempts to quit, the higher the likelihood they will eventually quit completely. Former nicotine smokers have the highest numbers of natural recoverees, researchers suspect. For individuals addicted to certain substances, such as stimulant drugs or tranquilizers, it is not recommended to attempt quitting without professional assistance and supervision.

Some drugs have dangerous, sometimes fatal, withdrawal symptoms on the user when continuous use is suddenly stopped. Severe addiction and psychological disorders play a role in the course of the journey to recovery. If the individual is suffering from a psychological disorder or has a severe addiction, seeking out professional help may be the best course of action for better chances at recovery. One must keep in mind that the higher the addiction severity is, the smaller the chances are that the person can naturally recover.

If you want to begin your journey to recovery through the process of ‘natural recover’, the following is a research-tested list of strategies to follow in order to quit your use:

  • Set a date for quitting. Choose a day that means something special to you.
  • Alter your environment. Get rid of anything that reminds you of your object of addiction. Don’t allow your friends or family to bring reminders related to your object of addiction, and separate yourself from anyone who may encourage you to use.
  • Adapt new skills and behaviors. When the urge to use is present, replace using with an alternative activity, such as going out or taking a walk, until the urge to use is no longer there. Learn to prepare yourself for situations that may trigger your craving.
  • Evaluate past quitting attempts. Review what was suitable for you and what was not, and what may have caused relapse. Based on that, think about what you could do differently this time around, what to avoid, and what needs to be changed.
  • Create a support system. Have a conversation with your family and friends, asking for their support. Make sure to surround yourself by those who are encouraging of your recover, and not those who use your object of addiction in front of you or encourage you to relapse.
  • Obtain meaning to your life. One of the most essential elements of the recovery process is to find what it is that gives your life meaning. Think of something that gave you meaning before your addiction. Find new interests besides your object of addiction, such as a hobby, new relationships, or your career.

Before someone begins their journey to recovery, they must ask themselves, “Am I ready to change?”. It’s important for them to consider what it is that they gain and lose from their addiction. A significant step towards recovery requires the person to understand what they gain from their object of addiction, and how they can receive the same things from other, much safer outlets. They must think of both the negative and positive aspects to their addiction, and afterwards try to find other ways to obtain the same positives, while reducing the negatives.

 

Gender and Age Differences and Addiction

With substance and behavioral addictions, the gender and age of the person influences the way in which they interact with their object of addiction, specifically in terms of their choice of substance or behavior, how it affects them, and their path to treatment. Generally, there is a difference in how likely men and women at different ages become addicted to a substance or certain behavior. Research has found that men suffer from a substance use disorder at a rate two times higher than that of women, while women suffer the health consequences of substance use more severely. However, most women involved with substances and other objects of addiction appear to have been introduced to them by men. Both men and women begin engaging with their object of addiction at different point in their lives. Women tend to start gambling at a later age than men do, but begin using illicit drugs at a younger age, their addiction progressing faster than that of a man. Statistics of use differ from one substance or behavior to the other. The following is a list of quick statistics on each substance or behavior:

● Alcohol: about 8% of men and 4% of women have disordered alcohol use.

● Nicotine: about 13% of women and 17% of men identified as tobacco smokers in 2015.

● Stimulants: likelihood of use and/or abuse is almost equal among men and women.

● Opioids: it is more likely for women than men to receive a prescription to opioids.

● Marijuana: men are three times more likely to smoke on a daily basis.

● Gambling: among women, gambling is not as common as it is among men.

Illegal substance use has been found to be most common among individuals in their mid-teens to their mid-twenties. Teen and early years of adulthood are times in which people tend to experiment the most, therefore the commonality of substance use is quite understandable.

Problems with dependency and abuse of substance affects 23% of people in this age group. In a survey administered in 2015, teenagers in the age group between 12-17 reported being current alcohol users. People who begin drinking alcohol at a young age are more likely to abuse it or become dependent on it, compared to those who start at a later age. This may be due to the fact that human brains do not fully develop, or mature, until we are about 25 years of age.

An immature brain experiences more difficulty resisting impulses and involvement in risky behavior. As for adults, many of the challenges that they may face during their later adult life could lead them to begin using alcohol, specifically, as an escape from these problems. Some of these challenges may include financial problems, loneliness, loss of loved ones, and failing health. It is important for both individuals and professionals in the field to understand the age and gender differences in substance use and behavioral disorders to have a better idea about what it is they are facing.