From: Rancho Santa Margarita, California
School: Trabuco Hills High School
The Threat of Addiction and Escapism
The Threat of Addiction and Escapism
America has a severe issue with addiction and substance abuse that is rapidly growing. The desire to escape from the stressors and issues present in daily life is a key motivator of why people start using. Life is no longer about having fun and happiness anymore, as general discontent with the quality of life in America rises. Political tensions are flaring more than ever and worrying about our future can drown any shred of optimism. The pressure to be perfect and to make enough money to simply survive is enough for some to find a way to escape where they can ease the tension and forget their troubles, even for a couple of minutes. Adults are stressed about paying off sky-high college loans and medical bills that they need a break from the constant thought of being behind tugging at them every second. The “high” achieved by taking different drugs or smoking them becomes a way to temporarily remedy their problems, and it becomes extremely easy to be lured into the death grip of addiction. Young teenagers today are exposed to so many films, shows, etc. that romanticize addiction, as it is portrayed to take you to your idyllic universe or make you seem popular. Personally, I have seen a trend in school that most kids are already on the verge or or are burned out. It is not socially acceptable to be average or to not be the best of the best. It is expected more than ever that kids have to take rigorous courses and lose hours of sleep to homework and studying just to get into colleges and to feel worthy among peers. These teenagers crave a way to just release all of the tension carried with them 24/7 by drinking, smoking, or using drugs. Lack of personal connection and solid relationships with friends and family because of social media and the advancements in digital communication leads to many feeling numb, and disconnected. Adults and teenagers alike want to “feel something”, so they rely on substances to evoke these feelings. In addition, the number of people developing depression in America is ever increasing. Depression may feel inescapable, and so turning to substances to cope is a recipe for a crippling addiction. The lack of proper mental health care and resources leaves many helpless, and feeling that they have no other option or way to reduce symptoms of mental illness.
The consequences of addiction are grossly downplayed in pop culture. It is not trendy or cute to be addicted to drinking, smoking or taking drugs. Escaping reality simply is not possible as much as the media wants you to believe. People can lose everything they have ever worked for due to addiction, and often feel isolated and alone in their struggle. Far too many Americans are unaware that once you do so much as try a drug, drink, or smoke that you are at risk of becoming addicted and it is not something you can easily kick to the curb. Addiction is very costly and can alter lives permanently, take lives, and affect so much more than the person who is addicted. Addiction ravages families, tears down one’s health and can make a person a threat to society. We have to do better as a country, to provide more resources and easily accessible help for those who are struggling, whether it be because of a mental illness, hard times financially or dealing with grief. If we help those who are most susceptible to become addicted in the first place, we can educate on healthy coping mechanisms before they turn to substance abuse. We must stop glamorizing drugs and drinking as a way of life and something that is normal, because it is not. Placing more emphasis on strengthening relationships in your personal life and normalizing discussion around mental health and taking time for self care is absolutely essential and preventing is always better than curing.