Name: Elizabeth Martin
From: Cascade, IA
Addiction Awareness Scholarship
It’s safe to say that every average American thinks they know everything there is to know about the people who suffer from addiction, who wouldn’t really think that when we have television shows constantly smacking us in the face with what people say are the “facts” about addiction. Everyone has seen addicts pour their hearts out on the “Intervention” television show and heard their families tell horrible stories about the childhood the addict had or where they think the addict’s life took a turn for the worst. Everyone who watches those television shows sits in their comfy homes, with their comfy lives and judges the families they see on television because “that could never be us!” or my favorite “I raised my children better than that”, but the reality is, every person handles life differently and it doesn’t matter how they were raised, sometimes the paths our children take are just beyond our control.
The reality to this addiction crisis doesn’t always sit in the hands of just one source, it isn’t as cut and dry as people think, you could protect your child from everything growing up, give them everything they could ever want, or need, be mother/father of the year; eventually they will expand their wings and decide to experiment, thinking what most addicts do initially, that they will never become addicted, they can do it just one time and it is not going to affect them. This may be the case, they might try it at one party, then again at another party, since it didn’t affect them the first time, and the next thing they know all they can think about is the way they feel when they are under the influence of this substance. Their pain might go away, they might not have to think about the things that have been bothering them, they might laugh a little more than usual and believe that they are happy because that is what the drug is telling them. The truth is that there are a million reasons how, or why, people can become addicted and they all make it so easy.
Here is the hard truth, addiction starts as a way to cover up what we refuse to accept, or deal with, within ourselves. Now that may be something as small as someone rebelling against their parents because they are strict, but it also could be as big as hiding a secret from your family in fear that they won’t believe you or accept the truth you are trying to deliver. Many people who start using in the first place do so because they need relief. We all know there are prescription medications and therapists that can help people get through whatever it is that is holding them down but we often times forget that not everyone has access to the funds to pay for a therapist, or the prescriptions they give, so instead they pay the $20 for temporary relief even if it’s only going to get them by for an hour or two.
Nobody can understand the consequences of an addict’s choices more than an addict in recovery witnessing all the life they missed while they were mentally checked out. Parents miss out on their children(s) lives, siblings become enemies, nieces and nephews may never be known and friendships that once flourished become nothing more than a distant memory. Sometimes it may seem to them like they should just go back to being who, or what, they were because everyone who sees them only knows them as such anyway. Little quirks that they have gotten used to, and may not even notice now, interfere in their every day lives and people will forever blame their past on who they are now.
Society as a whole won’t know who they are just based off of their names but will mention the affect addicts have on the prison system, and tax payers dollars, when discussing what programs need to be cut and who the “leaches” are in the community. They will mention the homeless camps in major cities or the trash on the street and accredit them to addicts. They will see the addicts as the reason and not the victim, they will say the addicts are the problem.
The real problem our country faces is a lack of affordable options to help with our mental health before it gets to the point of addiction. If we want to save our families from all of the sleepless nights, the worry and the added pain of seeing our loved ones implode on themselves the only way to do that is to find ways to make mental health help more affordable. If there were only some way, somehow, that the “greatest country in the world” could put our people above profit and support the mental health crisis by giving the ones who need it a different option then, and only then, will we be able to remedy this crisis.