Name: Shayla W...
From: Tempe, AZ
School: Arizona State University
Prevention For A Brighter Future
Addiction wears many faces. It is a vicious beast quietly and slowly tearing apart families. It lacks compassion and empathy, and forces surrender- even from those we deem strong. It bears no discrimination, and has touched every person in America closely, if not directly. While this cannot be solved overnight, acknowledgement of the issue on hand is key to understanding the necessary steps we need to take on an individual and societal basis to progress forward in solving this silent-but-deadly pandemic.
I was faced with my own harsh truth two and a half years ago- that my brother was suffering from opioid addiction. While this did not catch me completely off guard, acceptance was not an easy feat. Being the closest to my brother, I was the first who could comprehend the severity of the situation, and thus had to out his substance abuse issues to my family in order to seek the help and guidance necessary to his recovery. I was able to experience first hand the waves of emotions and actions taken by an addict to protect their secret. Denial and deceit became a daily defense mechanism. After a while, with persistent encouragement and unwavering love, came the truth. Lastly, and perhaps the most difficult of them all, came his welcoming of help. My mother was able to find him a rehabilitation facility that would treat and safely administer his treatment. I could not be prouder to state that my brother is currently three months sober, and counting.
Throughout this experience I have been in the privileged position of reflecting on what circumstances may have led to his, or any individual’s, addiction formation. I cannot help but notice the steady increase in wealth for large pharmaceutical corporations in association with the opiate crisis. To me, these are indistinguishable and coexist in unison.
In America, our key economic and political expression is capitalism. While this serves our nation in tremendous ways, it does not have a place when it comes to the health and well being of our citizens. Large pharmaceutical companies have profited billions of dollars off of their overly advertised and overly prescribed medications. The Department of Health needs to promote a healthy stability and progression of our healthcare system, while also providing stricter regulations on for-profit pharmaceutical corporations. We need to take responsibility as a society and intervene publicly so that individuals will no longer be taken advantage of privately.
Our government and health system needs to begin to see our society as people, not just numbers. Because while addiction has many faces, so do the individuals suffering from it. Our future generations will rely on our acknowledgment of fault, and progression toward change, awareness, and education in regards to our mental and physical health. It is up to us as individuals to push for the transformation we wish to see, so that one less brother in the world will fall prey to addiction.