Name: Jenna Smith
From: Elmer, NJ
I’ll Always Be His Girl
I’ll Always Be His Girl
Addiction is a major problem across the world today, as you can find drugs just about anywhere that you go. One dose could be your last, or one dose could make you hooked. Our country’s addiction crisis is a critical issue that affects many families whether they admit it or not, including mine.
As a nation, we are dealing with an addiction crisis because of the drug crisis we are facing. Drugs are being funneled and disbursed in the country and it is honestly hard to stop it from coming in because there is a supply and there is a demand for drugs in the country. Addiction is a problem we are facing due to poverty, mental health being a taboo topic, and many other issues in this country. In this country, the rich choose to avoid the problems poor people face because it does not directly affect them. Mental health is a major draw to drugs as families and sometimes health professionals do not take it seriously. When things feel like everything is up against you, it is easier to turn to drugs as it makes you feel better for a while. All of the issues in the country have added up and created this multifaceted issue of addiction.
Addiction is a taboo topic today because no one wants to talk about the problems they are facing behind closed doors. People need to put on a facade for society to ensure they are perceived properly. From the experience I have had with addiction this is true through and through. A family member of mine passed away from a drug overdose when I was eleven. He had turned to drugs from complications from a car accident he had years before. I cannot imagine the pain he went through on a daily basis, but he turned to drugs to help himself because other people would not help him. He was always someone I had looked up to and thought the world of. I still think the world of him knowing what I know now. A consequence of addiction is broken families, like mine. No one in my household handled it the same, and it broke a piece of all of us. He always called my sister and me his girls, and not being able to hear him call me that for the past seven years has not been the same for either of us. He had attempted to get better, but addiction is never an easy thing to break, Even though he is no longer here, I will always be his girl. Before his passing, my parents, my sister, and I had no idea about the battles he was struggling with. We found out after he passed what was going on. I am still unsure if he did not want us to know because he wanted to protect us or if they did not want us to know so they could keep their “perfect” facade. His parents were not one for comfort or understanding, but I have always wondered if the outcome would change if he had people who truly cared about getting him help over their appearance.
From my experience with addiction in my family, it is not an easy obstacle to overcome. While my experience ended in a tragedy, there are ways I have seen addiction get better. I have listened to other people’s stories of family members having an addiction whether it be drugs or alcohol and a common theme I saw was people got better for themselves. The person with the addiction wanted to get better for themselves to be able to be a part of their family and be there for all those milestones. When you have something like love to fight for it makes fighting your addiction worth it. Nothing could make beating an addiction easier, but love, compassion, and understanding can make the difference between walking onto a battlefield or walking onto a rocky path.
I have always wondered if he would be proud of what I have accomplished. He wanted my sister and me to go on and chase our dreams. I have done just that because I am currently going to college as a double major with a minor in the honors college. People in my life have told me that doing all of this would be too much responsibility or that I would be unable to accomplish it. However, I have his stubbornness and I intend to prove them all wrong about me. He always wanted us to receive a higher education, and I do wish he could have been in attendance at all my life milestones. Even though my high school graduation did not happen due to the pandemic, I know he would have wanted to celebrate me and my accomplishments all the same. When I finally get a real graduation when I graduate college, I hope he will be proud of me. This constant hole I feel due to losing him to addiction is something that I doubt I will ever overcome.
Society keeps addiction as an off-the-table topic that people should keep to themselves. The consequences of addiction should make it a topic that should be discussed. Parents lose their children, addicts lose their ability to get better, and families can be torn apart. These consequences of addiction should not be taken lightly in any sense, because even if the addict does not pass away they are not the same person they were before their addiction, It is a major problem and they have to continue the fight every day whether they realize it or not. A way that society could remedy addiction is simple. Just talking about drugs and telling people to stay away from them has not worked. Society needs to step up and step in. To step up, addiction needs to be a topic that can be talked about without the shame people put upon it. Addiction is not something to instantly frown up, people all have problems and addicts deserve respect just as much as everyone else. To step in, more rehabilitation centers need to be accessible for people of all demographics and the government needs to step in. If the government stopped criminalizing addicts and got to the root issues of the problem and helped with the addiction crisis, people would greatly benefit. All Americans would benefit from it; family after family could be mended if the government took accountability. Society needs to do better for the addiction crisis to stop being a crisis.
Addiction is not going to get better overnight, nor is it something that can ever be eradicated. Through hard work and dedication to the cause from the masses, addiction can be helped. Families will experience less heartbreak. The heartbreak from losing a loved one to addiction is unimaginable because it quite literally rips a hole in your heart without you even realizing it. I experienced this loss seven years ago and have never and most likely will never recover. Addiction should not be a taboo topic anymore. Even though the family member I lost to addiction I will not see for a long time, I will always be his girl and I hope is proud of me.