America has a gun addiction problem

“It is time that the psychiatric community recognized a mental health disorder which has engulfed the nation with results at least as catastrophic as the well-known opioid epidemic — addiction to firearms.”

Sense of Decency

Photo illustration © Michelle Gabel


In the days since the Uvalde massacre, there have been more questions than ever as to why America has more gun violence than anywhere else.

Having worked for 35 years as a professional treating alcoholics/drug addicts, I see some parallels between the rise in mass shootings and the opioid epidemic.

Per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, addiction is defined as “a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence.”

Some addictions are biochemical (substance abuse), many others are behavioral with no obvious chemical component (gambling, workaholism, eating disorders, sex addiction/pornography being several of many examples). All addictions have three universal criteria: continued use despite negative consequences to self or others, increased need for the escalating…

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