Name: Shahir Mohsenyan
From: Stafford, Virginia
Why you must Overcome Addiction
The use of drugs, especially Opioids, has become a recent major issue in the past few years, and it likely won’t end very soon. As our communities, healthcare systems, and government agencies join in the effort to reverse the epidemic of opioid overdoses and solve the opioid crisis, it is not enough to focus all our resources on treating people who are already addicted to opioids. Keeping people who do not have an opioid use disorder from becoming addicted is an equally important task. Addressing overprescribing of pain medications through improved pain management and prescription monitoring has been one important prevention approach; and as illicit opioids like heroin and imported fentanyl become more prevalent, reducing the supply of those substances through law enforcement efforts is also crucial. But reducing the demand for opioids by addressing the reasons people turn to them and become addicted in the first place is just as vital and fundamental to ensuring that a new drug epidemic does not follow once the opioid crisis is contained.
According to a recent study, nearly 24 million people in the United States abuse illicit drugs, nearly 18 million people abuse alcohol, and in 2012 alone 22,114 people died of prescription drug overdoses. At any given time, approximately 10 percent of the US population is abusing drugs and alcohol, with multitudes of families, friends, neighbors, employers, and co-workers being directly affected. The costs associated with drug and alcohol use total nearly $600 billion in lost revenue, health care, legal fees, and damages each year. Drug abuse is associated with higher rates of foster care child placements, child abuse, college sexual assaults, prison sentences, and lost productivity coupled with increased work-related injuries. As for families, that a whole different, albeit relatable story.
Those closest to a drug-addicted individual are the hardest hit. Common patterns emerge within families where at least one individual is addicted to drugs. These patterns include high levels of criticism or negativism within households, parental inconsistency, or in the case of parents coping with a drug-addicted child, denial. Misdirected anger between drug-addicted and non-addicted family members is common as is self-medication as a strategy in coping with family dysfunction. Co-dependent relationships often form between partners, where at least one partner is addicted to drugs and the majority of domestic disputes involve the use of alcohol or drugs. Children with one or more parents abusing drugs are more likely to take on the responsibility of the parental role, often functioning in denial of their parents’ addiction or behaviors relating to the addiction. These children commonly lack necessities, including shelter, and have little to no health care. Similarly, families with at least one drug-addicted parent are more likely to end up homeless or in poverty and are less likely to have adequate health care, representing a common barrier in obtaining treatment for the addiction.
One major way to resolve the addiction crisis is to create and release Public Service Announcements on the Internet and on TV (all channels). This is the most effective way in which they can use facts and figures to appeal to the general population. As for individuals, they should talk to a doctor if habits get to the point where they are literally tearing themselves apart, both mentally and physically. It’s best for those to seek a mental health counselor to mitigate the circumstances on an individual basis. Once that happens, others can gradually follow suit and the epidemic (especially Opioids) will be no more.