Name: Laura Herlehy-Bowen
From: Pensacola, FL
Addiction: A True Monster
Addiction: A True Monster
When I was a little girl, I remember going over to my uncle’s house. He had a room that I was told to stay out of in his three-bedroom house. It wasn’t like my cousin’s room, his daughter, or like his room at all. It was always dark, and it smelled funny. When my uncle went in there, he was initially very aggressive and easily agitated. When he came out, he was very calm, and seemed to have a weird euphoria about him. I was only five or six at the time, but I distinctly remember these weird personality changes in my uncle. Much later in my life I would find out my uncle was a drug addict and these “personality changes” I was seeing were evidence of his addiction.
As I’ve grown, I’ve realized my uncle was only one of millions addicted to drugs and other stimulants and depressants. I believe as a nation we are dealing with a severe addiction crisis. Throughout my childhood and into my adulthood I would see the toll that addiction took on my uncle. He was once young, strong, friendly and vibrant. Now, he’s a withered husk of a person with a failing heart liver and hepatitis amongst other chronic and terminal ailments. Watching him throughout my life it made me aware of the signs of addiction. I saw other family members and friends struggle with addictions from alcohol to hard drugs like heroine. Soon, I realized its everywhere and the numbers are only getting larger.
The year 2020 has been nothing but a catalyst for many, especially addicts. I’ve seen friends who’ve been to AA and completed the program successfully after years of sobriety have no other place to turn, except back to alcohol. I’ve watched outstanding members of my community become addicted to pain pills and other pharmaceutical products like Xanax and Tramadol. All to escape the pain of this pandemic and the toll it’s taken on them. People have lost their support networks due to pandemic closures and don’t have the stability to fight addiction on their own. Others have lost jobs and are on the verge of eviction because they have no money, so they numb their pain any way they can. This pandemic and many of the other tragedies of 2020 have caused an increase in people suffering from addiction.
Many consequences come from being an addict. The most common are job loss and loss of financial stability. Those seem to be the ones most people become aware of and start noticing something is off with an individual especially if they were not having issues before. The next major consequence of addiction is the loss of family and friends, addiction can all but eliminate most if not all traditional relationships. Those major red flags aside looking at it from and individual aspect a person’s mental health will suffer as well as their physical, like my uncle for example. Addiction is an unforgiving monster, and it will take everything way from you.
From society’s standpoint there are a lot of consequences. As a country we are really looked down upon by other major countries with our health system and how we handle addiction. Addiction is not a simple battle to fight and our society does not understand the real cause of it. Our society lacks empathy and continues to view addiction with black and white standards and refuse to give the proper treatment and support facilities for addicts. Other countries are leaps and bounds above the United States with the treatment off addiction.
As a society we can remedy this crisis in several ways, the most important being stopping the access to easily acquired pharmaceutical drugs like addictive pain medication. The number one addiction in the United States lies in the pharmaceutical market. Doctors are too prescription happy and often prescribe pain medication instead of treating a patient. This usually stems from lack of proper access to healthcare by the patient and the affordability of treatment. A doctor often will not treat a patient if they don’t have health insurance or cannot afford it and only prescribe medication. A person will not get better this way but only become addicted to the ability to get rid of the pain. Our healthcare system needs to be better and this alone could help prevent so many new addictions.