Name: Wendy Santana
From: NEW YORK, NY
When is it Over?
WHEN WILL IT END?
I grew up in a community full of violence and drugs so it wasn’t easy. There were many people addicted to alcohol and drugs. There were many times when I wanted to go outside and play, especially when they held block parties during the summer time but my parents didn’t allow me to go out and enjoy myself because they thought it would be dangerous. There were obvious reasons for that but at the time I didn’t realize it because I was just a kid and all I wanted to do was play. I just thought my parents were being too strict on me. I couldn’t even go outside and take out the garbage because they thought I would run off and associate myself with people they thought I wasn’t supposed to. I grew up with three brothers and two cousins. My cousin’s mom was hardly around because she was always working long hours and she had to make ends meet as a single mother.
There were many times when I would come home from school, I would see people buying drugs or people drinking in the streets in broad daylight being drunk. It was so sad but true. I grew up in a society where people were addicted to all sorts of drugs and alcohol. As I mentioned before, I grew up with my cousins but one of them started developing an interest in drugs and alcohol. I was 17 years old when I first encountered my cousin using drugs. I walked in to the bedroom and she was doing cocaine and had a bottle of Hennessy. Her nose was bloody and she was so high. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The person that I grew up with and looked up to was addicted to drugs and alcohol. I didn’t see the signs early on because during her teen years she was hardly around which was right after she turned 13.
It was a sad situation to witness knowing that she had the potential to finish school and get a good job. She was such a good student and one of the most intellectual people I ever knew. She used to read a lot of books and we would even compete on who would read the most of the Stephen King’s collection and she would always win. She was extremely knowledgeable with computers as well. I tried to give her good advice and make her come to her senses. I asked her why she would put herself in that situation and she couldn’t even answer me at the time. However, I came to my own conclusions and I thought she was probably looking for some type of satisfaction with drugs and alcohol due to the lack of love she received in her home. She only met her father once, her mother was always working, she was abused as a child, she got pregnant at 17, she quit school soon after and never made it to college, couldn’t maintain a stable job and was always hanging around with the wrong crowd. Maybe all of these factors played a part into getting addicted to drugs.
I used to see her sporadically roaming around the streets selling drugs, prostituting herself and walking around high with a twitch. I used to get teary eyes every time I saw her because my mom, her mom and I tried to intervene one time in order to help her or at least tried to save her from her multiple addictions. Her addiction had progressed immensely. She had alterations in her behavior. One day she’ll say hi to me and the next day she’ll ignore me. “We’re 30 years old now so when will it end?” I would ask her, but she would never respond.
Thankfully, she came to the conclusion or somehow noticed that she was throwing her life away and still had a daughter to raise. She was able to get the help that she needed and it was a crucial point in her life to do so since her daughter was already a teenager and didn’t want her to follow in the same footsteps as her. She had to set an example and create a safe environment for her daughter. Therefore, she took a different approach. Instead of using drugs or alcohol to control her impulses, depression and stress, she went to get help and understood that she would need to detox and a full in depth treatment at a rehab center for a full recovery.
I think people fall into addiction due to many factors but most importantly because people have easy access to illegal substances and alcohol. You don’t need to be 18 or 21 to obtain it or you can just get an adult that has access to it and enables you to do it instead of helping you control your addiction. I understand that there’s all types of addictions like food, clothing, cigarettes, surgical augmentations, gambling, criminal activity, etc. In this case, it was the environment that caused my cousin to have this addiction and the people she surrounded herself with that were a bad influence towards her.
People with an addiction will be able to acquire the help that they need and be able to improve or cure themselves from their mental state of mind if treatment centers and support groups were more advertised in all platforms. The same way they exhaust commercials for pharmaceutical drugs, current events, or social and political issues, they should provide more information to addicts. Most people, if not all, have been affected in some way with some kind of addiction in today’s society and an influx will continue to surge if something isn’t done immediately. Addiction awareness is key to saving more lives each and every day. All it takes is for one person to believe in you to make a positive change and I’m glad I was able to do it for someone that I really cared about and that it’s all over now. If for any reason there’s a moment of relapse, she will have my full support as well as our families.
As a nation we’re dealing with an addiction crisis due to many factors like domestic violence, racism, inequality, social economy, lack of work, scarce food, homelessness, low pay, school loans, taxes, credit card debt, social and political issues just to name a few. However, I think we’ve been dealing with an addiction crisis for a very long time and I think it’s time that we as a nation should be more proactive. It is imperative that we help those with an addiction in order to save them because some don’t have the will power to do it themselves.
Therefore, I think educators within the community should be more engaged, churches with youth programs can be a helpful approach, implement policies where there can be a reduction of alcohol consumption, controlled substances monitored much more carefully, and rehab centers to prevent or treat this hurtful epidemic. If this cry for help isn’t handled properly, there will be more people with mental instability and health deterioration which will lead to more deaths by people committing suicide, overdosing, and excessive alcohol consumption. I know nothing’s perfect, but it’s time we create some type of balance and stability for humanity overall.