Drug Rehab 2022 Round 1 – The Change Itself

Name: James Sandlin

The Change Itself

In order to discuss addiction as a crisis we must first look at what addiction truly is. The word “addiction” as defined by Dictionary.com says that addiction is “the state of being compulsively committed to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” We immediately pair this word with narcotics, drugs, or alcohol, though there are many things that can fit this description. Now, let’s use the example of drugs, by looking at this definition we see words that have a negative connotation, “compulsively”, “habit”, “trauma.” Naturally, we turn from negativity, we hide it under a rug, or we pretend it’s not there. Now, let’s look at the word crisis, also defined by Dictionary.com, where there are five definitions. All of these definitions are quite fitting for addiction and the current state of crisis we sit at with addiction in our country. All of which also correlate to negativity. Here are a few of the websites definitions, “a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change,” “The point in the course of a serious disease at which a decisive change occurs, leading either to recovery or to death,” and “The change itself.”

The paragraph above highlights the negative connotation of two words that when separate or together promote stigma, which is one of the biggest reasons that we as a country are in a crisis with addiction. This relates to pretending the issue isn’t there or hiding it under a rug. Because of lack of empathy and education coupled with an unwillingness to learn or think outside of ourselves, we contribute to the negativity, we judge and blame the individual, and we refuse to address the issue until affects us directly. Another reason we fight this crisis is because we judge and blame the individual we don’t look past the individual and what they are currently showing us, we don’t look at what led them to this point. Because of the reasons already mentioned, the individuals are forced to the outskirts, of a healthy living and thriving environment. They are forced to feed their demons in the dark, away from other people and away from safety. Exiled from their families and networks, they find others like them. But we know that the blind can’t lead the blind. We know that if they are out there, we don’t have to deal with them in here. After all, it was their decisions that led them there, why should we try? This contributes to the crisis because we don’t look at it as a societal problem, we look at it as an individual’s problem.

The reasons above lead to consequences put on both the society as well as individuals who suffer with addiction. Consequences for the individual include, isolation, basic needs not being met, desertion, and seclusion to name a few. These consequences are a recipe for the ultimate consequence for these individuals, death. An individual is forced into isolation because of the stigma associated with the illness they suffer from as well as from the addiction itself. Basic needs are not met because they are not able to obtain the resources necessary, jobs, doctors appointments, treatment, etc. The addiction has beat them down so low that even if given the opportunity to access these needs, society has made them to believe they do not deserve them, they and the world are better off without them, be it on the outskirts of society or in a grave. These lead a person to the desertion and seclusion.

Society suffers consequences as well. Society is at risk addicts go to any length and will stop at nearly no ends in order to provide for their habit. This could include stealing, injuring, or killing. Loss of hope is a consequence that society may suffer. Hope to see the nation we live in as a better place free of these crises. Our society may be looked down upon or seen as weak due to the amount of people who suffer from addiction and addiction being looked at as a dilemma of will power.

Can we solve the crisis that we find ourselves in with addiction? We may not be able to, but we could remedy the issue. We could make it less burdensome on the individual and society as a whole. While we may not be able to eliminate addiction, we can control it

We can do this in a few but perhaps not easily implemented ways. First, we need to provide accurate education to our youth and to society. While efforts of such have been attempted before as we saw with “Just Say No” and “D.A.R.E.”, these attempts only worsened our problem. As a middle schooler, the programs only made me more curious. The attempt to scare someone away from using drugs or alcohol were carried out by a series of lectures, completed with an essay outlining a promise to not do drugs, rewarded with a stuffed bear and completion certificate. Next, we need to destigmatize addiction through exposure. Give these sufferers a light when they have none for themselves. We need to see real numbers and real segments about them, not buried under election headlines and classified ads.

We will also need to provide safety and resources to the individuals who suffer, with the empathy to meet them where they are at, even if that means reaching them by harm reduction. We can provide safety by having safe injection sites, where an individual can be monitored while they are actively using. This may look like enabling, but there are many benefits to this option. Clean needle exchange, cut down in overdoses, less risk of spreading disease are a couple. We provide them with the option of treatment and explain the available resources from inpatient to Medication Assisted Treatment. We encourage healthy living, providing education, shelter, and other basic needs. We welcome them, extending out our hearts and our hands, letting them know, they no longer need to suffer in silence on the outskirts of society because they are part of us.

Providing this remedy to the individuals will lead to the remedy for society, as we are integrated with this population of people, we see them as that, people. Because of the exposure and cutting stigmatization we see them with our hearts. The care we show them promotes positivity. Providing them resources we aren’t using tax dollars to hold them in prison or at bay from our inner workings of society, we give them the opportunity to contribute to our society.