Name: Geyer Shope
From: Sewell, NJ
The Cost of Addiction
The Cost of Addiction
The American addiction crisis has become a hot topic in a society of people who seem to be searching for an answer to the problem of anxiety, depression, and overall disenchantment. Our nation is currently dealing with this addiction issue due to various factors that impact the health of individuals, families, communities, and the world. The impact on the individual addict is devastating in terms of the physical, mental, and emotional effects that it imposes. These effects, in turn, effect the interactions the individual has with others. Family members are hurt in ways that cause deep divides within family relationships. The addicted individual often resorts to lying and stealing in order to feed his/her addiction. The social costs are high because the individual becomes unproductive and unable to hold a job. Society will suffer as a result of the individual failing to work in a productive manner. Globally, the addiction crisis in American is seen as a sabotaging element to our overall functioning. Indeed, the cost of addiction is felt on many levels, ranging from individual, to community, to the entire world.
To answer the question of why addiction has become a national crisis, one must look at the underlying reasons that a person turns to drugs and/or alcohol to cope with the stress of life. First, it should be acknowledged that there is often a biological predisposition for addiction. Just as a person might be genetically predisposed to diabetes or heart disease, addictions are also found to be based in biology. This does not mean that a person is doomed to be an addict if a number of family members have addictions. Instead, it simply means that a person may be more likely to develop an addiction if there is a biologic factor involved. There is always free choice, meaning that an individual will get to make the choice as to whether or not drugs or alcohol are initially taken. Secondly, addiction is a national problem because many people are self-medicating with substance rather than doing the hard work of working through emotions in a more productive manner. Having the willingness to face problems and perhaps engage in psychotherapy or medication for clinical disorders such as anxiety or depression takes a great deal of courage. Some people find it to be an overwhelming option to face their trouble, and therefore, they choose to try to escape the harsh realities that burden them. They do this by numbing their pain and seeking temporary relief through drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, the cost of using substance for escape is high, and dependency happens. A third reason why addiction has become so prevalent is due to the irresponsible legal drug abuse perpetrated by doctors who too quickly prescribe addictive medications. A dental patient may receive a prescription for a pain relief medication following surgery and then innocently become addicted to the medication before realizing the danger. In recent years, doctors seem to be more strict in their choices of pain medications, particularly if a patient has a drug abuse history. However, many patients have found that pain medications lead to abuse of such drugs as cocaine or heroin which are very difficult to abstain from once an addiction is underway. Fourthly, substance abuse has become a problem in our society due to the strain of everyday life for some people. Even if they are not necessarily fighting a mental illness, some people simply have difficulty finding meaning in life and turn to drugs and alcohol to fill a void. This void could be emotional, spiritual, intellectual or social. Once again, the use of substances to fill such a void will ultimately lead to even more disappointment and grief for the individual and those who love him/her.
The consequences of addiction are far-reaching for both the individual addict and the overall society. There are physical ailments which accompany addictions. Liver and heart damage are just two examples of the toll that substance abuse can take on the body. The less obvious issues that happen on an emotional level are just as serious for the addict. Relationships fall apart because trust is broken. The addict is unreliable and emotionally unavailable to his/her loved ones when he/she is in the midst of an addiction. Mental faculties are severely damaged with addiction as well. Memory, judgment, reasoning skills are all compromised when the addict engages in the addiction. As mentioned previously, an addict will fail to keep a job when in active addiction, hurting society by not realizing individual potential to play an active role in the community. Hence, the addiction is ultimately affecting the greater society.
The remedy for the crisis of addiction is complicated to say the least. The answer to the problem of addiction depends upon the willingness of the individual, community, and the greater society (government and healthcare) to work together. First and foremost, the individual must identify the problem and accept help. Secondly, the stigma related to addiction must be eradicated. This means that the employer and the government must support the addict by providing treatment measures and financial support during the recovery period. The family of the addict must reach a level of forgiveness and acceptance in order to support the addict on an emotional level throughout the process as well. Community awareness is also a key factor. When we recognize addiction as a disease, we avoid placing blame on the addict. The individual must be held accountable, however, for the choices he/she makes toward recovery. The individual will need to regain a sense of self-esteem and purpose in order to go forward to make contributions to the greater society. In the end, the problem of addiction can only be solved when we value each individual as a worthwhile human being and support each individual in whatever struggles arise within the recovery. The cost of addiction is too high to ignore any longer!