Name: Kyra Glassey
From: Red Rock, Arizona
Alcohol: the legal drug of America
Alcohol: the legal drug in America
My father struggled with an addiction. In America alone 21 million people experience at least one addiction. America is experiencing an epidemic with in a pandemic. COVID-19 is a virus the whole world is struggling to combat, but America is also facing opioid crisis. Starting in the 1990s when opioids began to be prescribed more frequently under the false idea that prescribed opioids were less addictive. Since then the crisis has increased in size and magnitude especially during the last few months. Opioids are depressants meaning they have calming effect on the body. People often describe a sense of wellbeing and happiness while on opioids. Like most drugs it’s used as an escape from something whether it be everyday life or inner thoughts. People who experience anxiety, depression, dramatic changes in life, stress, and loneliness are common targets for opioid addiction. Effects of this drugs includes breathing problems, nausea, vomiting, and more, however most of these side effects will stop once a person stops taking the drug.
My father struggled with an addiction to alcohol for the first nine years of my life. While different from opioids, alcohol is also a depressant. It blocks connection in the brain which then leads to slow reaction times, lack of reasonable thinking, difficultly speaking, and more. Unlike opioids the physical long-term affects can be fatal such as liver disease and heart failure. An important distinction between the two is that alcohol is a legal drug in the U.S. unlike illicit opioids. A drug is defined as any substance that physiological effects the body minus substances that have nutritional values like food and water. Comparatively alcohol is more damaging to the body than opioids and yet it’s legal. Alcohol is not commonly labeled as a drug but that does not make it any less true or dangerous. In fact, the misinformation makes it even more dangerous as people do not fully consider the addictiveness it possesses just like any other drug or damage it can have on the body. Why is alcohol any different than other drugs?
My father struggled with an addiction to alcohol for the first nine years of my life and it changed him. To this day I do not know why he drank like did. Alcoholism is a disease caused by alcohol. In any other disease the virus or cancerous cells are targeted and eliminated. The source of the disease is to blame not the person. But when the source is profitable, like alcohol, the individual starts to be blamed for the disease. Alcohol is legal because last year 9.99 billion dollars were made off of its tax alone. My father had a disease but he was not the cause of the disease, alcohol was. When the nation profits off the abuse of a drug, it becomes a problem for the whole nation.
My father struggled with addiction for the first nine years of my life and it changed him but eventually he was able to get the help he needed. For alcoholics it’s easier to seek help and readjust because the drug they take has less stigma than others. There is a thick fog of shame that follows anyone with an addition and because of that it can be hard to see clearly enough to seek help. The fear of judgement is so overwhelming it’s enough to keep people silent even when they are screaming on the inside. Why is the abuse of alcohol more acceptable than the abuse of any other drug? Because it is legal. If the abused substance is legal the addiction is treated as a medical problem. If the abused substance is illegal the addiction is first and foremost treated as a criminal problem. The focus is on find the drug dealers rather than figuring out why 50% of teenagers have misused a drug at least once in their lives.
My father struggled with addiction for the first nine years of my life and it changed him but eventually he was able to swallow is pride, and I have learned from his mistakes. Education is crucial. Growing up with alcoholism running in both sides of my family I was educated at a young age about drugs, how they affect the body, and addiction. Most people I come across are unaware that alcohol is indeed a drug. School do not educate students on the topic of drugs. This means that teenagers take drugs for the first time do not fully understand the risk they are taking. Education about topics like drugs and substance abuse is important because it give people more information to make these decisions for themselves. Drug abuse is a taboo topic only because people refuse to discuss it. The fact of the matter is this is a real problem that needs to be faced head on but that cannot be done if people are not even willing to sit down and have a conversation. The stigma and shame surrounding substance abuse needs to be fixed on a societal level. Fear of judgement and shame should not be silencing people. I not say that having an addition is okay, being able to talk about one’s struggles without judgement will provide a greater chance for help and growth. Labeling all addiction as a medical problem too will help break down stigma and allow the focus to be on helping the individual person. Another important part is health care accessibility. In America healthcare is not universal. Due to the toll addiction takes a person many people who need help can access it because of financial reasons. This leaves them stranded in their addiction with no way to get out. Providing healthcare and rehab for those who cannot on their own with make a world of difference in the fight against addiction.
My family was lucky. After years of struggling with alcoholism my father was finally able to admit he had a problem. When he was ready to seek help he was able to receive any treatment he need. But not everyone is as lucky as us. Nothing will be solved if we do not talk about it. The first steps in breaking down stigma and building up education is being able to talk freely about the topic of drugs. Mental health is linked with drug abuse therefore mental healthcare should also be more available. If people know all the information and risks they can make better decisions and seek out help when they need it. As a nation we need to come together and beat the fight against drugs.