Name: Jamie Vi Conner
From: Austin, Texas
Grade: Senior in high school
School: AESA Prep Academy
Votes: 0 Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign - Addiction Point of View from a Family Member

Addiction Point of View from a Family Member

I
believe that there are many reasons as to why we are dealing with an
addiction crisis, first would be mental health. Statistics show that
37 percent of alcohol abusers and 53 percent of drug abusers have at
least one serious mental illness. Substance abusers use alcohol or
drugs in order to eliminate the feelings associated with their mental
illness and while the substances may fix those feelings short-term
they don’t entirely fix the problem. This leads to them using the
substance every time they have negative feelings and creating the
mid-set that they need this to feel better, causing an addiction. The
second would be genetics or heredity, According to an article
published on Scholastic, The Role of Genes in Drug Addiction, drug
addiction shares many features with other chronic illnesses, one of
which is heredibilty. It also mentions that scientists estimate that
40-60 percent of genetic factors account for a person’s
vulnerability to addiction due to their DNA sequencing. I think if
there was more attention paid to the underlying causes that
contribute to addiction we could help more people.

Not
only is addiction dangerous to the individual, but it also poses a
threat to our society. According to statistics from the years 1999 to
2017, over 700,000 people have died from overdosing on a drug, and on
average 6 people die a day from alcohol poisoning while 130 die from
opioids. These individuals are not only posing a risk to themselves,
but also to the people around them. In 2017, 34.2 million Americans
committed DUI, 21.4 million due to under the influence of alcohol and
12.8 million under the influence of drugs. Also, alcohol and drug
addiction, cause the U.S. economy over $600 billion every year.
Addiction and homelessness go hand and hand. People struggling with
addiction often lose their jobs and their homes because their
addiction impairs them to work and then they use the money that they
do have to feed their addiction. Not only are there negative effects
for people who are homeless, but the are also causing a negative
impact on the community because tax-payers have to pay to fund their
homelessness.

I
have recently been doing my own research on how people struggling
with addiction can be helped. There are a couple popularly known ways
to help these people, one being through rehab. But when looking at
the statistics of people struggling with addiction, rehab has less
than a 30 percent success rate and that is not including the 70-80
percent of people that drop out of the program and finish it. There
is a new research that John Hopkins University, they are using a
hallucinogenic drug that is found in “magic mushrooms” called
psilocybin. The way their therapy works is they have someone dealing
with an addiction, so far the addictions have been anywhere from
alcohol to narcotic abuse to smoking. They have the patient come in
for a four week long process where the patient had therapy sessions
with a therapist. Then after this they have the patient come in and
take the hallucinogen in whatever dose they think is appropriate. The
patient is then laid on a couch, blind-folded, and receives
headphones that are playing a certain classical music soundtrack.
With each patient the hallucinations are different and so is their
overall experience. This data from this research has led to an 80
percent effective rate. If this research continues to be improved
then it could be offered to rehabs leading to an extraordinarily
higher success rate for people struggling with addiction. Not only
would this lower the percent of people struggling with addiction, but
it would also lower death and homelessness rates.

Even
though I do not have experience with going through addiction myself,
I know how hard it is to watch someone go through it, especially when
it’s a loved one. I grew up watching my Uncle Jason go through
stages where he would be sent to prison, get released, and then be
admitted into a rehab. This ultimately led to him throwing all his
hard work away and relapsing. The most recent time this happened was
in 2017, Jason turned himself in because he was the run, served his
time (in the prison’s hospital due to his health conditions caused
by his drug addiction), then was released on parole. My family really
thought this was it, that he was finally getting his life together,
he had a steady job, a steady place to live, and everything was
looking up. Jason had even gotten permission to leave his house on a
weekend so that he could attend my great grandmother’s funeral. My
family and I picked him up so that we could bring him to the funeral,
you could tell that he was doing good and he was healthier than
before. Keep in mind, Jason is mainly addicted to meth so it is
noticeable when he using. After the funeral, we took him back home. A
few months later, I am with my grandma and she told me that Jason
violated his parole, when he only had a couple months left, and now
he is on the run again. A few weeks after that my dad and my older
sister were talking about how they think Jason is using again because
he was sending them weird messages on facebook. These messages
included him saying that he was being “gang stalked” by people in
the government who paid off his friends and family so they wouldn’t
talk to him. Jason also thought that these people put cameras in his
house to watch him. Jason sent my dad pictures of random objects, the
back of televisions, dvd players, corners of his closet, etc, saying
that they withheld the cameras that were watching him. It was truly
devastating and scary because there really wasn’t anything we could
do to help him.

I hadn’t seen
Jason until last week when he showed up to my grandma’s
thanksgiving dinner. My family arrived to my grandmas and it was just
us and my great aunts family. My grandma had mentioned that she
invited Jason but he was having a “hard” time the night before
and she said that she didn’t think he would be coming. We all ended
up eating dinner and after a few hours we were all sitting in the
kitchen talking, laughing, and looking at old pictures. Then the
doorbell rang, we didn’t think anything of it and my grandma went
and opened the door then came back into the kitchen and whispered to
us “Jasons here.” We were all kind of shocked since he usually
doesn’t come to family gatherings. Then we all see Jason walk
around the corner into the kitchen. Tall, skinny, missing teeth, and
exhausted looking, we were appalled by what we saw, it was a truly
depressing sight. Jason came over and gave us all hugs and told us he
loved us and said that he really needed to be around his family. We
continued looking at pictures with him, at first he didn’t know
that he was the boy in the pictures until my grandma told him. Jason
was constantly leaving the kitchen and going outside saying that his
dad was coming to get him, which was something he had made up in his
mind. Some of my family members went out to talk to him, trying to
give him advice and help him get through this hard time. My parents
were the last people to talk to him and when they were finished they
came back in with tears streaming down their faces. About 10 minutes
after that, my parents decided it was time to go and we all told him
we loved him and said goodbye. The next day my grandma came over to
babysit my niece, she mentioned that Jason ended up telling her that
he was leaving to catch the bus, but when my grandma was leaving her
house the next morning she said that she saw him sleeping beside her
house. She told us that her husband told Jason that he needed to
leave and that he couldn’t stay there, we haven’t heard anything
since. I know my story is long, but I wanted to share mostly so
people know how hard it is to watch someone that they love battle
with addiction and what toll it has on them.


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