Name: Mia Ali
From: Oro Valley, Arizona
Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign
Since the beginning of time, people have found substances that they have used whether it be medicinally and recreationally. The more time that these substances have been around, the more they have been socially and culturally accepted. These substances and their companies are also increasing their production. Almost everyone knows someone with a “problem”. One may know someone with an opioid problem, alcohol problem, or even a nicotine problem. Our nation is struggling with an addiction crisis due to the lack of coping and healing that many people are faced with regardless of emotional or physical pain. No one chooses addiction, and no one directly chooses the bad things that happen to them. A lot addictions can come from medicinal use substances that have made their way to being addictive by its user. In the world we live in now, it seems almost too easy to have access to drugs and substances. A lot of these get promoted and advertised to all ages. Even when the drug hasn’t been introduced medicinally, friends try something and share it and culturally speaking, it’s “normal” therefore they think it is healthy and/or okay. Addiction leads to a dependency, a dependency in which victims rely on their dose or their next hit to feel right or happy. In most cases where I have seen addiction, it has been with people who are hurting in some way and use their addiction as a crutch or a way to numb everything. Their addiction becomes more important than themselves and even those around them.
There are so many consequences to an addiction. One’s life could be ended by their addiction as many of these addictions are life threatening and not healthy. Another consequence can be losing yourself and everyone around you. I once had a father that treated me like I was loved, special, and safe before his life began unwinding. My father would drink a lot and cheat on my mother. My parents got divorced when I was six and eventually my father moved to Arizona. His substance abuse was so prominent that it rubbed off on my brothers. They grew up to be copies of their father if not worse, and they adopted abusive behaviors. Their substance abuse included cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana. One lived with me and my birth mother and the other lived with my father, but I would see him every time I visited on break. The abuse they inflicted were verbal, physical, and even sexual. Things that took years of therapy to heal from. Before being placed in foster care at an older age, I was constantly abused in many forms by my brothers. Home was never safe. I do not know if they ever really realized the full extent of their actions due to being intoxicated for all those years. I remember being a little girl and visiting my dad at his ranch in Arizona. I was always scared at the house he lived in so I would try to come to his room and be around him, but nearly every time he would be passed out on his bed with plenty of bottles surrounding him. As a young girl, I could never understand it. It got worse over the years and he was never present, not as much as he once was. He took me to Disneyland one year, but he did not want to do anything and instead spent the whole day so intoxicated that he could not move from the bed. The abuse that my brothers took on as well as the neglect my birthmother had for me was dangerous and ended with me being in foster care. With the endless court meetings and case worker meetings, my father no longer had the effort he once did like when I was a little girl. I do not think that he ever really cared about anything anymore, his addiction swallowed him, and I was no longer his family. Court required my parents to get therapy if they wanted me to be placed under either of their care, neither of them would accept that. My father was too consumed by his addiction to realize that he was losing his only daughter and that there was no going back. This addiction, or even any addiction, can lead to you losing everything you once loved. It changes you forever, unless you can get the help you need.
It is not your responsibility to “fix” your loved one. However, it makes all the difference if you can guide them and provide them the resources they need. The strength to get help comes within themselves. They may not always realize how much their addiction is taking over or how their actions can affect others. As an individual we can provide the support that is needed both emotionally and by resources. We should give hope, not shame and disappointment. I wish I were older and more comprehensive to try to help my father and try to see how I could have helped instead of giving up on him even when he gave up on me. As a society, we need to STOP normalizing substance use or substance dependency. Normalizing all these toxic substances creates addiction and ignores the seriousness that they can bring. We also need to make more rehabilitation centers more accessible as well as removing the stigmatism that surrounds them. Needing help does not make you weak or less than. Reaching for help and getting the help you need comes from a personal strength and a fight to survive. Getting help is strength and overcoming the darkness that surrounds us is an achievement.