Name: Holden Parrent
From: Amherst, Massachusetts
Grade: College Freshman
School: University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Votes: 0 Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign - The Addiction Crisis That Affects Us All

The Addiction Crisis That Affects Us All

My
name is Holden Parrent and I come from Harwich, Massachusetts, a town
on Cape Cod. As I believe many people know, the Cape is a place that
suffers from a heroin epidemic. This problem has gotten so bad that
there was actually an HBO documentary that was made titled Heroin:
Cape Cod, USA
. This crisis has taken a toll on everyone, and it
is likely that most of the people you meet on Cape Cod have some sort
of connection to it, be it through their family, friends, neighbors,
or simply seeing the things that happened there. If the Cape is
indicative of the rest of the country, as I know it to be, we as a
country have a huge addiction crisis on our hands. This is a crisis
that can absolutely be solved, but it will take hard work and
dedication to do.

I
don’t personally know anyone who has taken heroin or become
addicted to any other drug, but I have heard the stories. My father
works for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and
has told me many stories about what he has seen. I have heard about
children having to be taken from their families because their parents
were addicts who couldn’t take care of them and about children who
were born already addicted to opiates of some kind because their
mothers didn’t stop taking abusing them during their pregnancies.
This has been an issue for years and years, and I remember even doing
a school project on this back in sixth grade. It has only gotten
worse since then. I have seen people overdose on the street in front
of my high school, something that happened multiple times in my four
years there. We ran cross-country practice out on those same streets,
where there was a nearby public bathroom that we could use if we
needed to. In that bathroom, only a minute’s walk from my school,
the body of someone who had overdosed on heroin and died was
discovered. Although I have never taken any drugs myself, I have
always been aware of the dangers they pose because I have experienced
first hand what these addictions do to people. The horror can still
be hard to imagine though, and honestly, watching that HBO
documentary was still incredibly difficult for me to do because these
people, the eight people who shared their gut-wrenching stories with
the world, helped me to better understand just how real this issue
is.

This
crisis has only grown since its beginnings in legitimate medical
offices in the late 1990s, where doctors told their patients that
these drugs would not be addictive. The prescription of these drugs
became widespread, and countless people unknowingly became addicted.
Often the use of these drugs is simply for what they were prescribed
for, but even as the pain gets better, the addiction sets in and it
is difficult for users to go back to functioning without it. These
drugs alter the brain chemistry of their users in a way that makes
them completely dependent. Often, too, these prescribed drugs don’t
help as much as users want, or doctors tell them that the drugs are
not needed anymore, and the users disagree, deciding to take more
than prescribed or to continue taking them or another similar drug
instead. It is unfortunate that the use of these powerful drugs that
can help many people have become abused because of their highly
addictive qualities.

It is incredibly
important to find a way to remedy this crisis before it gets even
more out of hand; the longer we wait to do this, the longer it is
going to take to fix it. One way this can be done is through
increased education in schools about the problems associated with
drugs, particularly addictive opiates. If students learn about the
negative effects that abusing drugs can have on their lives from a
young age, they will be less likely to do so in the future.
Additionally, it’s important for any education to involve some
discussion of opiates that one may receive from the doctor’s office
or hospital because of the fact that this is where many opiate
addictions start, so teaching them to be careful in those situations
is very important. A second possible method for remedying this crisis
is to invest a lot of money into rehabilitation centers that allow
people to get clean with support from trained professionals. Although
these facilities exist, I personally don’t believe there are
enough. Many people who are addicted want to quit but are having
trouble. It is these people who would benefit from these facilities.
In addition to psychological support and a supportive, nurturing
environment at these centers, I believe it would also be quite
beneficial to have them provide services to help people readjust to
life and make sure that they don’t become drug users again. This
involves helping them to find housing and employment, and simply
keeping tabs on them to make sure that they have that support net if
they begin to struggle. Often it is simply easier for former
drug-users to turn back towards drugs instead of working to repair
their lives, so continuous support is necessary for the
rehabilitation process. Quitting drugs and rebuilding your life is a
hard enough task without being forced to do it on your own.


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