Name: Rylan Wareham
From: State College, Pennsylvania
The most frightening aspect of addiction is how lightly some interpret the word. Growing up in a public high school, I have had friends claim alcohol and marijuana to be non-addictive substances unless supplemented with depression or an underlying condition. Simultaneously I watched a peer fall to cocaine abuse until he decided to take his life, and my own mother turn to alcohol addiction, which led her to a habit of abusing prescription pills such as tramadol. My peer, who shall remain nameless, was an upbeat kid; initially hearing about his passing I was shocked, even thinking it was a sick joke. We did not talk often however, our few conversations left me with the impression he had all his ducks in a row. I knew he was living without his parents and was wrapped up with drugs yet, he kept up the perception he was getting his life together. This is the first major issue with addiction awareness; those who need the most help refuse to ask. Not only is this harmful to the individual but, it also contributes to the stigma that addition is not a real issue today. When real addicts hide from the truth, others with the same issues feel as if they are alone in the fight.
The second destructive notion regarding addiction is the perception that alcohol and marijuana are non-addictive substances. As I mentioned above my mother became an alcoholic when I was young. She always drank a little more than she should have but after my grandmother passed away, the drinking had no limits. With no outlet for her emotions, she used alcohol to fill the void she felt. After a few years and a serious talk with my family she went to rehab and initially was doing quite well. During this time, she discovered that she developed numerous autoimmune diseases. As her medical issues continued, her bag of prescriptions grew until it was always filled with twenty plus prescription bottles. I am unsure of when my family started to notice the pill abuse. She would wait until night to take the worst pills but even during the day, her slurred speech reminded me of the nights she was too drunk to sustain a conversation. I believe I took notice early; however, I continued to tell myself she would never do such a thing. I could not have been more wrong.
It has been about a year since we have initially addressed her pill addiction and she is in virtual rehab in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Recently she has been doing well but the long-term impact on herself and my family will be everlasting. My sister and I have discussed the implications of growing up in this environment and we have both found similar damages in our trust and anxiety when it comes to simple things like family dinner. I hope my story can be a warning to those who disregard addiction as merely a nuisance; I can assure you, it can be detrimental to an individual’s peace of mind.