When we can have undreamed of productivity and abundance with far less human labour, only a very few will be able to find meaning in work and their contribution to the economy. In that environment, what is left? The answer is the thing that mattered most all along, the only thing that can never be automated away or swept up in the calculus of productivity. That is: care for each other, and the need to be truly seen by another human.
So in our extremely individualistic and materialistic society, where the pursuit of money and widgets surpasses all else. And most of us go about our daily lives with faces sucked into panel displays instead of looking out at nature or into the eyes of another. It surprises me not at all that a chemical mind-altering substance to numb the pain would achieve epidemic status.