Name: Laura Hernandez
From: Miami, Florida
Grade: 10
School: Coral Gables Senior High School
Votes: 0 Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign - Addiction Awareness

Addiction Awareness

Addiction
Awareness

Addiction
is a complicated disease involving an inability to stop taking a
substance or carrying out a particularly damaging behavior. It can
lead to a range of adverse psychological, physiological, and personal
effects.”

  • Medical
    News Today.

I
believe, as a nation, we are dealing with addiction at its highest
point in history and the consequences of these addictions are seen
everywhere in people and society. But as a whole we are able to fix
this and come up stronger than we were before, so that future
generations may not need to worry about the struggles we’re facing
now. Millions of citizens are struggling with addiction stemming
from drugs, alcohol, smoking, and other harmful substances. As a
nation we need to come to terms with the crisis, know its origins,
know the consequences of the substances on all levels, and divert the
crisis.

We
as a nation are dealing with an addiction crisis because of the
overwhelming stress we are facing in our day to day lives which leads
us to seek out resources that give us a temporary high and lets us
forgot about our troubles and worries for a day. As a nation, we face
stressful situations like discrimination, gun violence, political
corruption, and harassment (just to name a few). The United States is
the third highest ranked country in terms of anxiety and depression
rates, as calculated by the World Health Organization. This universal
stress people feel are their brains reaction to emotional or physical
stimuli as stated by the New Yorks Academy of Sciences article
“Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction”
written by Rajita Sinha, “... (Stress) can be emotionally or
psychologically challenging and (the body) activate(s) stress
responses and adaptive processes to regain homeostasis,” meaning
the human brain actively seeks out a counter-measurement to
de-stress. The easy accessibility of these harmful substances is
another contributor to nationwide addiction. Young people who are
susceptible to addiction, as their brains are developing until 25
years of age, often times have zero problems finding these
substances. Drugs, alcohol, and other substances are relatively easy
to find, especially for stressed out students in school, as they may
receive them from dealers, family members, other students, or fake
sick to get prescribed drugs from their doctor in that way.
Advertisement is also a large contributor to national addiction. The
college experience of heavy drinking and smoking is a staple in
American TV shows and movies, it is also encouraged to be done in
parties and if the person refuses they are seen as weak and
unsociable. Cigarette companies in the earlier years of American
society would bully and try to persuade its audiences to smoke,
ensuring that the generation is hooked on their addicting nicotine.
These types of companies also target low income and black/Hispanic
communities in order to capitalize on the daily stress they feel in
order to get those hooked on drugs, alcohol, or smoking. Even
counter-measures or counter-advertisements trying to stop kids from
smoking, drinking or doing drugs can do the opposite because when
people are told they can’t do something they want to do it more,
this is a psychological effect of the human psyche most people
possess. As a nation, we let ourselves become addicted because
we don’t question first the harm what we consume is doing to us.
Society pressures young people into trying these substances and their
young minds become addicted. To put this into perspective, a student
is told by their friends to try out a new type of cigarette, a Juul,
the child takes a huff and they feel a rush of ecstasy, they have
been stressed out because of school work and get into a habit of
Juuling with their friends. On their favorite show they also spot
their favorite actors Juuling and therefore want to continue the
action, even subconsciously, as they see those stars doing it. The
child then becomes addicted because of their friends pressuring them,
the accessibility of the substance at hand, and it’s advertising.

Harsh
consequences of this addiction can fall onto the individual and
society. The waterfall effect occurs when a person constantly seeks
such a relief, their brain becoming addicted to the sensations,
therefore they keep buying and then eventually fall into financial
ruin or their mental/physical health deteriorates because of the
addiction. There are different stages of addiction. It starts
with the first use; Alvernia University says “It can be as fast as
taking the first drink or smoking a cigarette. Or, people may have
used drugs in the past without developing a dependency, but are now
moving on to a more addictive substance,” meaning it all starts
from the moment a person decides to use the substance and can trigger
an immediate liking of it. Then the person becomes a regular user,
developing a pattern of substance use. The person may then lose
control, abuse the accessibility of the substance and always crave
it. Alvernia University also says that these people will continue to
push away family and friends and if they’re a student their grades
may worsen and their addiction will cause them to use up all their
money for more of the substance. Alvernia University says this can
turn into a “Substance Abuse Disorder” where “…individuals
cannot function in daily life without their substance of choice.
People with addiction may lose their job, drop out of school and even
face homelessness,” meaning addition can completely take over a
person's life and cause them to lose their individual in order to
feed their addiction causing the society around them to go down. All
this may also affect their mental well-being and cause them to
further be dependent on the substance in order to remedy the pain
they’re feeling. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) states
this is also apparent in children with developed mental illness as
well, “Drug use and mental illness often co-exist. In some cases,
mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia may
come before addiction; in other cases, drug use may trigger or worsen
those mental health conditions, particularly in people with specific
vulnerabilities. Some people with disorders like anxiety or
depression may use drugs in an attempt to alleviate psychiatric
symptoms, which may exacerbate their mental disorder in the long run,
as well as increase the risk of developing addiction.” People
with addiction often have associated health issues from their
substance. NIDA says these issues may include lung or heart disease,
stroke, cancer, or mental health conditions. Smoking and drug use may
lead to many cancers, dental problems, and overdosing which is when
an excessive amount of a certain substance leads to passing out,
brain damage, or possible death. Drug abuse as stated by NIDA “can
also increase the risk of contracting infections. Human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C (a serious liver
disease) infection can occur from sharing injection equipment and
from impaired judgment leading to unsafe sexual activity.”All of
these consequences negatively impact an individual and their close
family and friends who see them struggle but in terms of society it
can also have a large negative impact in numbers. When multiple
groups of people are addicted to a substance society declines because
of the high cost of drug use and the environment deteriorating.
Addiction can lead to high stress, mental health issues, and violence
which can all bring down society as it isn’t striving with the high
amount of negativity and addiction in the air. The Recovery Research
Institute calculated “In 2007, the direct and indirect costs of
illicit drug use (excluding alcohol) totaled almost $200 billion,”
and “Substance use disorder treatment costs the country
approximately $36 billion per year in healthcare and approximately
$417 billion per year overall,” meaning the economy value declined
due to the heavy price of drug use.

There
is a remedy. We can divert the crisis on both the individual and
societal level. As ourselves we can recognize our addiction, talk to
friends and family, be honest about our well being, and seek therapy.
As family and friends, we can establish trust with that person, let
them confide with us and encourage them to seek a treatment process
right for them. As people we can, eliminate the stigma around
addiction by educating ourselves and encouraging others to do the
same. As a society we need to reform our attitudes about addiction
and addicts and fight for better health treatment for them worldwide.
“Addicts are people too” is a brilliant mentality to have. People
with addiction are people first so they shouldn’t be treated as
wild animals or a taboo. It is also good to keep in mind a recovering
addict needs a stable system around them to strive and that society
should play a part in keeping a positive atmosphere ready for them.
It would also benefit society to accept more wide ranges of
treatments and gratefully sponsor them, as summed up by The River
Source (Addiction Treatment & Recovery unit) who says “More
scientific research is necessary to explore what treatment methods
work and how to tailor different treatment regimens to different
drugs and personalities. Of course, not everyone can benefit from any
kind of treatment, but a holistic approach that incorporates elements
of different traditions, therapies, and techniques stands a good
chance at building a blend that can deliver a powerful solution which
a higher likelihood of working.” As a society we must also strive
to eliminate any encouragement and advertising of these substances by
boycotting their involvement in film and TV and reducing the ‘‘cool’’
factor that makes teenagers and young adults want to try them, work
to provide shelter and treatment for those suffering from stress or
mental illness, and enforce laws meant to increase heavy regulation
on these substances.



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