Name: Kaleigh Hecht
Breaking the Stigma of Addiction
Addiction is a devastating illness, not only for those suffering, but also for the loved ones of the addict. The many faces of addiction can be difficult to recognize and there isn’t one treatment plan that is effective for every person. As someone who personally knows an addict, I can say that I empathize with them. Many people describe it as missing someone who is right in front of you. As hard as it is on family and friends, I know that the person suffering from addiction is fighting an even harder battle. Unfortunately, the incidence of addiction continues to increase in this country, and I believe there are several causes. One of the identified causes has been over-prescription by healthcare providers, which is now more regulated to try and combat this. However, I think the stresses of life have become too overwhelming for most people and they are desperately searching for an outlet. The rising cost of living, coupled with a massive loss of jobs due to COVID in recent years, has been truly devastating. While some people will say that they would never turn to addiction, there are many others who find this amount of stress and desolation unbearable. Whenever we turn on the news, there’s an endless occurrence of depressing, catastrophic events, which make a person have a negative mindset and become hopeless. All these factors have a harmful impact on the mental health of individuals, which begins to affect all of us in society. For the individual, they lose motivation to participate in meaningful activities and experiences. Then, once addiction has a hold on them, they fear being judged and view themselves as an outcast and a failure. This divide impacts society because there are more people who are not able to work and applying for government assistance, and that increases the burden on those who do work. That increased burden on society can make some people resentful, which turns this into a vicious cycle and does not help anyone. The problem of addiction is not one that can be solved overnight and there may not be one solution that applies to everyone who is suffering. However, to better assist the individuals suffering from addiction, we need decrease the stigma around addiction and be less judgmental. You never know why a person became an addict and they may be attempting to cope with realities that others could not even imagine. I also believe that we should limit access to pain medications and there should be a harsher punishment for those individuals who are illegally selling drugs. As a society, we need to support individuals who suffer from addiction and show them compassion. I hope every addict knows that they deserve love, happiness, and success, which can be achieved through the support of the community.