Name: Taylor Gummere
From: Lompoc, CA
Why Americans Struggle with Addiction
Why Americans Struggle with Addiction
By Taylor Gummere
In today’s society, it’s so hard to connect with people on a personal level. Being isolated is just a general theme in most people’s lives. Even before the pandemic, people would build connections through social media and technology without ever meeting face to face. When we feel alone, we turn to other things to help fill that void, the void of being alone. Many people try and fill that void of being alone with temporary happiness. There are many things you can be addicted to not just drugs and alcohol, however, in this essay I will be talking about the causes and effects of substance abuse and how it affects millions of people nationwide. Many people find comfort in their addiction because their brain no longer longs for human connection; their brain/body craves for that substance they are addicted to. Humans are supposed to be among humans; it’s in our nature. So when we are forced to be isolated from people, it drives us to find something else to be connected to. The catch is, being addicted to something isolates you more. If you have ever been around someone with an addiction, you know that they don’t know how to act without that substance. That addiction is now their entire personality and consumes them. This can cause a lot of anxiety and stress to them and the people around them.
Depending on the addicting substance, people will have different consequences. No matter what your fix is, it is never healthy to be that dependent on something. For example, many people smoke cigarettes when stressed; it helps calm them down and gives them a second to breathe (even though what they are breathing will most likely kill them one day). Still, that second of being able to calm yourself down with that cigarette is more important than their health. The most dangerous thing about addiction is when you no longer care about the consequences and only care about how it makes you feel in that moment. If you smoke a cigarette every time you are stressed, how will you deal with stress when you do not have a cigarette? You will not be able to; you will be completely overwhelmed. Most people, especially young people, don’t even know when they are addicted to something. They say, “Oh, I can quit whenever I want” or “I’m stronger than it,” but in reality, most people are not stronger than their addiction. When you are dependent on a substance you use it to cope. Cope with sadness or stress or whatever their problems are. Having a drink occasionally is ok but when you use alcohol or any other kind of mood-altering substance to cope with situations it can be really damaging to your brain. Drug/ alcohol addiction is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to the inability to stop using the substance they are addicted to. The severity of addiction and how fast you become addicted to something varies by the substance. Some drugs, such as painkillers, have a higher risk of you becoming addicted. When you are addicted to a substance you start to use it all the time. Over time you may need more of the drug to get high or even just to feel good. As your addiction continues you may find it increasingly difficult to live without the drug. Stoping or trying to quit the substance your addicted to can cause intense cravings and even cause you to feel physically ill. That is called withdrawals.
Addiction can change a person’s personality. I had a friend my freshman year of high school who was a normal kid with great potential. He started drinking and smoking, which eventually led him to start taking pills and other hard drugs. His personality did a 180. Instead of the bright, funny guy I used to know, he seemed low and lifeless. It is crazy how fast it happened too. In less than a year, he turned into a drug addict. It is scary seeing someone destroy their entire life over a little pill, but I guess it made the pain go away. In general, people that are struggling with addiction are very stubborn. They are set in their ways, and it is tough to change a person like that, however not impossible. I do believe that rehab works. And I do think that people can fight their demons and persevere. In the developing brain, it is extremely important to not get addicted to something because it stunts your brain and you will have the inability to cope with certain situations and because your brain is still developing it is harder to make good decisions for yourself and know your limits.
Addiction is a disease, it is not a choice. Addiction is portrayed as this horrible disease that only criminals and lowlifes have, but it is more common than you would think. According to the American Addiction Center, almost 21 million people are addicted to something in America. Whether that be drugs, alcohol, sex, social media, whatever it is, less than 10% of those people have received treatment. And that is because it’s a hard thing to talk about. Addiction is an extremely hard thing to talk about because it is the hardest thing to admit to yourself and seek help. If we normalized talking about addiction, there would be more people ready to get help for themselves and their families. Even though it is a challenging topic to talk about, we must talk about it. People shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of their addiction. They should feel supported and loved for recognizing they have a problem and wanting to change.