Breaking the stigma
I was so excited to see the context of this scholarship opportunity because recovery is what changed my life. I am celebrating 8 years sober this month, so not only do I have my own personal opinions on addiction, but I have experience, and I believe experience is the greatest teacher. I am currently a nursing student pursuing my BSN. I spent 3 years at a community college working on nursing pre-reqs in order to apply and be accepted into a program.
I believe we are dealing with an addiction crisis for MANY reasons. For starters I believe the majority are completely uneducated on what addiction is, and what it truly looks like. Addiction does not discriminate. The crisis continues because addiction is illustrated as a “choice.” A lot of people choose not to believe that addiction is a disease, therefore they dismiss the idea of addicts/alcoholics losing the power of control, and ability to make choices once addicted. I believe we are seeing an increase in addiction and overdose because of the increase of mental health in our society. Drugs and alcohol are just a symptom of the problem. Suicide rates are at an all-time high, and people turn to drugs because they can’t bare the day-to-day life. The crisis continues because society is scared to have the “tough” conversations regarding addiction, and what it looks like for people. It’s a lifelong process, it’s not about just putting the drink and drug down and being recovered. Recovery is an on-going process for life.
The consequences of addiction for an individual are substantial, and I will use my own personal experience to relate to this question. I was brought up to have everything I ever needed as a child, I was a varsity soccer player, and I excelled greatly in school. I never in my life thought that I would become a high school dropout, homeless on the streets of Baltimore city, and addicted to drugs for nearly 9 years. Addiction will take everything it has from you until it has nothing left to take. The material things lost from addiction were devasting enough, but addiction took my spirit, hope, and soul. I had no morals, no regard for other human beings. I was raised to know right and wrong. I was a great kid, and I remember always yelling at my dad if he didn’t say “thank you” when we left a drive through (fast food) – I mention this to illustrate the heart I had, and still have. Addiction didn’t care about how good of a person I was, once it had me. It took me. The consequence as for society will be just as devasting because it’s continuing our streets, its grabbing more and more people and those people are dying. Addiction is creating more unproductive members of society. We are also seeing a rise in children being born addicted, or abandoned because of mothers addicted to drugs, therefore the cycle and disfunction continues.
I believe we can remedy the crisis by having more conversations, and more successful stories. The reason I wanted to write this essay is because I want people to know you can come back from the grip of death and be successful. Never in a million years did I believe I was capable or smart enough to be accepted into nursing school, let alone help other people, and here I am. I work as a nursing assistant in a hospital, and I speak with people so hopeless all the time, and this feeling they are feeling is because they don’t see a way out. They don’t see they are capable. Talking about the crisis is important, but I believe talking about the solution, and recovery is even more valuable. We can remedy the crisis by showing society that people who are in recovery, are successful and just as much value as a non-alcoholic.
I can only relate my experience, and the reason I got sober 8 years ago was because I was provided hope. People need to see there is a life worth living. It doesn’t matter how small or big that reason is, but we need to inspire and be the example. The people that came before me and showed me how life “could be” is the reason I am here today. The only way we can successful slow the crisis on addiction is to continue to break the stigma around it.
Thank you for your consideration, and everything you do for recovery community.