Name: David Gray
From: Mesa, Arizona
The Dangers of Addiction in Our Society
Addiction is not a new topic for our society. As we have evolved, so has addiction seems to remain very prevalent in society. Substance abuse is one of the most prevalent addictions in today’s society. Whether it is alcohol, smoking, or prescription medication, substance abuse has impacted many individuals and families in substantial ways. Social media and cell phone have made substances easier to obtain illegally and harder to regulate. Especially with younger people, social media has increased the pressures to try or continue bad habits. Because of the rapid increase of addictive substances, the accessibility, our society has to find a way to stop addiction from becoming an even larger danger.
Personally, I have seen examples of substance addiction through my grandfather. He has had many issues related to his addiction to smoking and alcohol which have permanently affected the rest of his life. Because of his smoking addiction specifically, he developed lung cancer, which forced him to live life getting oxygen from tanks and eating through a tube connected to his stomach. He was also never able to speak the same way again, affecting how I interacted with him.
Alcohol also has made impacts on my grandfather’s life, similarly to the effects of smoking. Due to his alcohol addiction, he went to jail for drunk driving and had to spend time in rehab. Time that could have been spent with family or working was instead used on curing this addiction. He also got into a drunk driving accident which punctured his lung, leading to even worse lung issues.
The struggles caused by my grandfather’s addiction issues are similar to the effects of addiction on other families in the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, around 95,000 people die due to various effects of alcohol yearly. This makes alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death, where the first is tobacco, another addictive substance.
These extreme cases of addiction related death aren’t the only effects of addiction, many people with addiction problems face day to day issues. For example, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that one in four college students have academic consequences from drinking which includes missing classes, falling behind, and receiving lower grades. These academic roadblocks caused by alcohol could affect the student’s future performance in school and make them less prepared for their life beyond college. Other consequences can be loss of jobs, loss of driving privileges, and jail time depending on the offense caused by poor decisions due to addiction.
The reason these issues related to day to day performance are so common is due to the mass availability of substances. For example, I have seen numerous high school students vaping on campus, mostly with other students. Since there are students in high school vaping, others could see these students and join them without thinking of any of the consequences. Vaping is also popularized on social media with many kids posting pictures and videos of themselves vaping on Snapchat and other social networks.
Along with increased smoking and the use of alcohol, methods to stop or prevent addiction have also evolved. The main way this addiction crisis can be solved is through the awareness of the dangerous effects of addiction. Social media is a key platform since messaging can get directly to a person’s phone. Also, recent legislature has increased the smoking age to twenty-one from eighteen. This will help less young people get into smoking whether it is from a young parental exposure to smoking or from another student in high school.
While the nation has experienced an increase in addiction, people are starting to become more aware. As long as the internet continues to spread information about the dangers related to addiction, people will start to think twice about taking an addictive substance. Also more programs have been formed to assist those with addictions. These organizations have a greater reach with social media and more people that are closer to the addiction can get involved. The closer we get to the problems the more we can correct it.
In closing, I would like to dedicate this essay to my grandfather who sadly passed away this April. He has been a great inspiration for me and has taught me numerous things, especially about caring for others. I want to make sure that the dangers of smoking and drinking are known by more people so that they can keep themselves and their families safe.