Name: Jennifer Koepl
There is a huge problem with addictions in the United States of America. According to Addictioncenter.com, there are about 21 million Americans that have at least one addiction. Only ten percent are receiving treatment for those addictions. Our current population is just over 330 million. While this means that only six percent of the American population have an addiction, the addiction impacts those around addict as well.
Addictions seem to come from a need to escape a type of feeling or situation. However, the drug of choice only provides temporary relief, causing the need to always get more. Drugs can numb a person and make them void of feeling so they do not have to confront whatever is bringing them down. It is a mental health issue. Even in the year 2021 we still lack the proper mental health resources. The pandemic last year made situations even worse because the ability to receive care in a timely manner was just not happening. The stigma of receiving care for mental illness is still here. Certain jobs will pull an employee to a lower-level job if they have received mental health treatment. This makes the person feel less than and feel like they cannot receive help. Then they find a way to dull the pain and enter the addiction.
As stated earlier, addictions cause harm to those around the addict on with the addiction. First off, there is emotional conflict if a loved one tries to confront the addicted person about their addiction. It is a source of contention. Second is livelihood. Addictions are expensive and can drive a person deep into poverty. Should performance tank at the addict’s place of employment, they will likely lose their job. This is now one more thing that can allow the person to spiral down and add to the addiction pile. Fourth, it can lead to a life of crime, with theft as a common method of funding the addiction. Theft is common to fund the addiction/addictions. Our prison system is overwhelmed as it is, and many are corrupted from within. Finally, death. When an addict becomes desensitized to a substance, more is taken and can lead to an overdose or death. When we look at alcohol addiction, it can branch out further than just those directly around the alcoholic. My own father was taken too soon by a careless, alcoholic drunk driver. Likewise, a neighborhood alcoholic smashing into our mailbox and careened into her sister’s car in the wee hours of the morning. She could have gone behind bars, but I was merciful. The consequences of addiction can splinter and spread like a crack in a windshield if left untreated.
What can we do? We have technology, we need to use it in the right ways. Mental healthcare can be done via telehealth but we need more psychologists to give better access. People should not have to wait months to receive care. It is important to note that no matter how much rehab a person goes through to curb the addiction, it is a life-long process. The struggle is day by day and outpatient care should be in ample supply as well. Resources that are out there, need to be advertised better, like 211. Based on some research, not all states offer court mandated rehab. We need a level playing field here. Then, not every state offers the right duration for rehab, leaving many barely hanging on. These people need to be taught coping skills and how to get right into those feelings instead of trying to find the off switch.
Also, how many times are small towns running rampant with substance abuse? Look at rural Ohio and the opioid issue is a major deal there. There is a lack of positive activities for younger people to do. They experiment because they are bored. My small town in Georgia does not have a substance abuse crisis yet. However, each time a new business wanting to entertain our young people is proposed, the county planning office squashes it so that our town can maintain that old-time, small-town feel. We can have a regular AA meeting location and a proposed rehab home open in our town, but we cannot have a game room. If our town does not stop looking in the rearview mirror, the future will be bleak for many that live here.
As individuals, we must show care and mercy to those around us with addiction. We need to lead them to seek the treatment they need and be there for them to lean on as they wait. Being quick to cast blame does not help. One must be there to just listen and offer support. Offer love and forgiveness instead of holding a grudge towards an addict that has unintentionally shattered a piece of your life. An ounce of compassion can lead to a life with hope.