Name: Hunter Linden Peterson
From: Muskegon , Michigan
Shattering Addiction’s Stranglehold on our Society
Shattering Addiction’s Stranglehold on our Society
Addiction – one of the most taboo terms in our society today. Many have seen it rear its ugly head: families are ripped apart, lives are lost, and worlds are turned upside-down. And yet, for one reason or another, it is largely swept under the rug. We, as a nation, have become dismissive and complicit in the growth of addiction as an issue, and this has allowed it to become an epidemic. In order to attempt to weaken the chokehold that addiction has on society today, we require a change in both people’s mindsets as well as legislative efforts that are being made to combat addiction.
For the past century, smoking, drinking, and popping pills have been glamorized by our society; this undoubtedly has had an effect on the way people lived their lives. Once society finally became privy of the dangers of these things, the damage had already been done, because, as we all know, addiction is not as simple as just quitting. The acceptance and admittance of the drugs into our culture has made them mainstays in the lives of many, and they are able to consistently remain relevant across generations. After all, who are children going to look to for advice on drugs, a researcher, broadcasting from a lab thousands of miles away, or the people who reside in their home, on their television, and in their school? The influence that these drugs are having on children is still very real: even today, large numbers of children are still being exposed to harmful substances from an early age. This early exposure to drugs cements the idea into the minds of the children who witness it that using these substances is not only something that they can do, but something that they should do. Also, through the sinister marketing of tobacco and alcohol companies, these substances are more likely to show up in poorer areas-areas that have been shown to be more prone to addiction. These factors, undoubtedly, have begun to have an effect on our society. Although cases regarding addiction may not be as covered by the media as other topics, they are still a harrowing reality that affect the lives of many.
Addiction is responsible for many far-reaching, negative effects on the individuals who are afflicted by it, those around them, and society as a whole. As for those who use these substances, there are substantive health risks involved. Many of the most popular drugs today damage the cardiovascular system, the lungs, and the brain-all of which are key to remaining in good health. Additionally, the mental health of the individual is affected substantially. Due to the plethora of health ailments facilitated by the use of these substances, the quality of life of those who use them decreases; consequently, the mental health of these individuals is diminished. The effects of addiction are not merely limited to the individual who is suffering from it, however. As previously mentioned, having substances in a home normalizes their use to the children who live there; consequently, these children are more likely to develop addictions and as a result be at risk of suffering adverse health conditions in the future. Also, many of the effects of taking substances involve an inhibition of judgement. By having their judgement impaired, people will be more inclined to do things that could lead to others being harmed; a common example of this would be operating a vehicle while under the influence of a substance, which leads to an exorbitant number of deaths annually.
With all of these things in mind, preventing addiction from continuing to be a problem for the United States may seem challenging; however, there are several solutions that would help to at the very least quell the onslaught of addiction. For one, the availability of addictive substances such as nicotine and alcohol should be severely limited in high-poverty areas; in exchange, these areas should be gifted with support services to be able to combat the addiction that is already occurring there. Since addiction is in its simplest form a cycle, by seeking to aid the areas that are the most susceptible to the harm that addiction can cause, we would be able to put a major dent in the number of people whose lives are negatively affected by addiction. Also, more resources should be put into monitoring and limiting the distribution of opioids. While they do serve a purpose, they are frequently abused, so more care should be taken when prescribing and monitoring how people are able to access these drugs. There are also some cultural shifts that must occur. The way that harmful substances are portrayed by the media must change, as sources of media have been largely responsible for showing these substances in a positive light throughout the past century. The sources of media that are available to us largely shape our culture, so the media should be held accountable whenever they encourage the use of harmful substances. There will also be work required of parents and older siblings. Undoubtedly, the people who children revere most are those closest to them, so it is important to be a role model for them whenever possible. This is not to claim that the epidemic of substance abuse falls on any one individual; rather, it only seeks to state that everyone must do their part to ensure that the current drug abuse epidemic in America becomes a thing of the past.