Name: Peyton C...
From: Dahlonega, Georgia
School: University of North Georgia
An Analysis of Addiction
Analysis of Addiction
As someone who is planning on becoming a substance abuse counselor, the
topic of addiction is something that I am quite passionate about. The
addiction crisis that has gripped the nation is something that has
continuously grown as time goes on. It affects everyone, whether they
believe it or not. While it is finally being considered an urgent
issue, the stigma of addiction still hinders individuals from getting
access to the help that they so desperately need.
There are various reasons as to why our nation is dealing with an addiction
crisis. Quite frankly, it originates from the fact that we as a
nation have been reactive as opposed to proactive. Throughout the
years, society has stigmatized addiction rather than treating it as
an illness. Due to the heavy drug use that used to be mainly
concentrated in inner cities and lower-income areas, the government
(and society) turned a blind eye by blaming those who were struggling
as opposed to offering assistance and treatment.
Now that the addiction crisis has infiltrated nearly every area in the
United States, it has become impossible to ignore or excuse. I grew
up in an affluent area in Georgia which has now known as a part of
the “The Heroin Triangle.” While everyone I grew up around had access to a
quality education, this did not stop many from getting involved with
dangerous substances. The reason for this is because addiction is a
disease. It does not discriminate, and it has no problem leeching
itself into every corner of the nation. Addiction is every bit as
valid as any other mental illness, and it is imperative that we work
towards treating it as such.
While there are numerous factors that have contributed to the rising number
of addicts, I do believe that the ones most responsible are popular
culture, the government, and the healthcare industry. Drug use has
been consistently glamorized through every possible aspect of pop
culture. Whether this be through the entertainment industry or the
overall portrayal of celebrities themselves, our nation is showing no
signs of understanding just how dangerous this can be.
The drug use that is so often glamorized by television shows, films, and
music rarely tends to show the dark, dangerous consequences that come
with substance abuse. For example, in the teen-targeted television
we see the main character taking Adderall recreationally, along with
other substances at parties. She is portrayed as cool, popular, and
successful in school. We are never shown the possibility of someone
such as this losing their life to a “party habit.”
By normalizing drug use, the entertainment industry is directly
responsible for giving young, vulnerable viewers the idea that it is
acceptable and common to try drugs. By watching so many relatable
characters partake in drug use with seemingly no consequences, young
viewers are led to believe that drug use is common and cool. They
also only see characters benefit from substance abuse. It is rare to
see the true dangers of drugs highlighted in any form of pop culture.
The government and the healthcare industry are also responsible for the
addiction crisis. While specific substances have been successfully
banned or mandated as “over-the-counter,”
there is a lack of proactive behavior regarding prescription drug
abuse. Doctors have been overprescribing opioids for decades, but the
healthcare industry overall is only now starting to take action
regarding this. If a person becomes addicted after surgery to their
prescription drug, they will find a way to either get more or find
something similar that is more affordable. As many know, this tends
to cause people to turn to heroin. Doctors must accept responsibility
for this growing issue, and the healthcare industry and government
need to work together to be able to properly regulate the prescribing
of strong painkillers.
There are numerous consequences that result from addiction for both the
individual and society as a whole. The individual will suffer from
both physical and mental problems, during and long after they partake
in substance abuse. They also may potentially harm themselves or
others in order to get their drug of choice. This could be through
prostitution, robberies, and more. Needless to say, the consequences
of those suffering from addiction do not just pertain to the addicts
themselves. This reinforces the fact that addiction needs to be a
topic of concern for everyone in society.
I believe that in order to remedy the addiction crisis, everyone needs
to work together. Too often people are divided on issues, and many
tend to ignore the ones that don’t
personally pertain to them. However, addiction is something that
everyone should be concerned with. As stated previously, it does not
discriminate and can infiltrate into any area. I believe that more
research and concern needs to be devoted to addiction. Addiction
needs to be de-stigmatized so that people are not ashamed and are
able to get help. One of the biggest struggles that I’ve seen on a
personal level is that treatment is not readily available to most
people. I have known many people who have struggled with addiction
(whether personally or within their family), but only a few are able
to afford the high treatment costs. Affordable and accessible
treatment should be available to anyone who is willing to get sober.
I also believe that the approach to the treatment of addiction needs to
strongly emphasize mental health. Many people are dealing with
underlying issues such as trauma, depression, bipolar disorder, and
more. Many of these conditions require proper psychiatric medication,
along with continuous therapy. There are too many treatment centers
that advertise short “detox”
programs, and fail to provide proper coping mechanisms and strategies
for how to continue living sober once one has left the facility.
Staying clean is an ongoing process and needs to be treated as such.
Overall, I believe that the addiction crisis will only improve once everyone
begins working towards solutions together. While some may not view it
as important because they don’t
know someone who is suffering, that doesn’t mean they can just
excuse the millions of people who are struggling and dying daily.
These people are someone’s child, someone’s mother, someone’s
father. They can not be ignored.