Name: Alisa Bentley
From: Fort Worth, Texas
Addiction Awareness- Keeping it Real
Why do you believe we as a nation are dealing with an addiction crisis?
When people think about the nation dealing with an addiction crisis, some peoples’ immediate response would be due to easy access to drugs and alcohol within the country. This type of response makes me question why people reach for drugs and alcohol in the first place. Yes, some try drugs or alcohol because they think it’s cool, but a large percentage of people within our society tends to use because that’s an easy way for them to cope with serious problems that they are experiencing or have experienced. I am going to be very real here for a moment. Let’s talk about children and adolescents: There are many children and adolescents that live in broken homes, whether it’s fighting amongst the parents, seeing financial struggles that their parents deal with daily as well as a huge disconnect within the home which causes the parents to divorce. Children and adolescents do not know how to process what goes on within the home, not at a young age they do not. I also believe that many parents never consider how dysfunction within the household or the environment/community in which they live in affects the child. This causes parents to refrain from obtaining help for not only the child but the entire family. This leads to children turning elsewhere for comfort.
There are adults that have experienced great childhoods, supportive families and parents that are very active in their lives. Some of these same adults grow up and have families of their own that they must provide for. Many of these adults experience hardships such as loss of a child (miscarriage), loss of their job, homelessness, divorce, illnesses and more. These types of hardships lead to stress and depression. Due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, many adults are too ashamed to obtain the proper treatment. Some even feel that proper treatment is “too time consuming” while some have a hard time accepting that they are experiencing a problem. There are even individuals that are completely unaware of treatment that is out there. That’s when individuals turn to unhealthy coping which leads to addiction.
There are many organizations that provide counseling as well as other mental health services that assist a person in dealing with negative emotions as well as trauma. Does this type of treatment take time? Yes it does but learning the necessary skills to better deal with past or current issues allows a person to understand that there are other ways to cope. I am not judging anyone, but many believe that “treatment takes too much time” and it’s “too time consuming”. Many feel that’s it’s difficult talking about their problems to a complete stranger and feel as though providers would rather give them meds and send them on their way. A lot of people have so many thoughts/beliefs when it comes to getting proper help but many do not understand that obtaining the proper help will not numb the problem (like drugs and alcohol) but will provide education as well as understanding so that the individuals can utilize these coping skills on a regular basis. So, I believe that’s why we are dealing with such as huge addiction crisis amongst children, adolescents and adults. It’s all due to individuals turning to unhealthy coping skills and not utilizing the proper resources and services within the country. Many are also not aware of proper resources and services available.
What are the consequences of this addiction for the individual and society?
Unhealthy coping tends to spread like a virus, it hits whomever is in the path of the person using and I believe family and friends are most affected. When children see their mother or father, coping with life problems by using drugs or alcohol as well as see the behaviors the parent exhibits, it affects the child. When parents use, it causes them to distance themselves from their children and causes them to act out in ways that are not appropriate. A person suffering from an addiction cannot care for their children properly which causes the child to suffer and develop problems of their own. That’s when the cycle starts again. Family members suffer in the process of trying to help, and it becomes hard for everyone. Consequences become a continued cycle of addiction from person to person and generation to generation.
How can we remedy the crisis on both the individual and societal level?
The only way we can remedy the crisis is by getting through to individuals and society by advertising mental illness and treatments more on the Television, social media sites and other sites where people can get the message. I have seen too many commercials discussing mental health only to be aired at night. Mental illness and addiction should be advertised during the day, evening and night. These commercials should talk about the importance of receiving treatment and how organizations can help. Mental health commercials should also provide ways to better cope with depression and other mental illnesses. Providing somewhat of a breakdown on how treatment typically goes, this breakdown gives individuals a taste of how treatment goes which will lead them to become curious and seek more knowledge. If alcohol can be showcased on the television, real issues such as depression and addiction should be showcased a lot more as well. Mental health and addictions are real and it’s something that shouldn’t be hidden. Maybe if people see it more on television, they will be more open to walking into a treatment clinic or a mental health organization without feeling bad or ashamed. Using celebrities and others that have a big platform to get the message across could also make a difference. Maybe it will alleviate some of the drug and alcohol usage by putting mental illness and addiction on front.