Name: Noah Gunderson
The Truth About Addiction
Addiction is a term used to describe physical and mental dependence on drugs. It’s a term that can be heard almost anywhere, as virtually everyone has heard about addiction or even knows a person suffering from addiction. However, what many people don’t know is that addiction is a serious problem for many people, and that number of people is growing at a constant rate. Many addicts never get the help they need, and even if they do, they may still have trouble turning away from drugs. Drugs, especially when you’re addicted to them, have the ability to take one’s money, belongings, relationships, jobs, and even life. Despite this, many individuals are not educated when it comes to addiction, which encourages shaming of addicts and prevents them from getting the help they need. If everyone was a little more educated when it came to drug addiction, more people would be able to recover from their drug addictions, and society could start taking bigger steps towards ending addiction once and for all.
The primary reason why I think addiction is a national crisis is because of the amount of people who have to deal with it somehow. If you aren’t an addict yourself, it’s likely that you know an addict, perhaps a friend or even someone from your immediate family. According to American Addiction Centers, approximately 4% of people in the US are addicted to drugs and by the time adults are seniors, 9.1% will have faced/overcome a drug addiction. That’s roughly 1 in every 10 Americans who will experience addiction at some point in their lives on average. To put this into perspective, I’d like to also put emphasis on the fact that many addicts never seek help or get the help they need, so there are more addicts out there than statistics will show. However, let’s say the statistic is completely accurate. Everyone knows at least 10 people, most know a lot more. But I don’t know many people who know 10 drug addicts personally. This means that there is a very large number of addicts who suffer in silence, who manage to either hide their addictions or don’t realize the help they need for it. I’m not sure what exactly constitutes a crisis, but if there are really that many addicts in the world, more needs to be done to help those addicts.
The consequences of drug addiction are nasty to both those who suffer from addiction and those who are close to an addict. Besides the awful side effects that drugs can have on one’s brain, addiction can play a serious role in one’s health and behavior. Many addicts resort to stealing, panhandling, or lying to get money to feed their addiction. These less desirable traits often cause people who were once close to the addict to not want to be a part of their life anymore, which gets rid of any outlet for help for the addict. The ironic thing about addiction is that it’s the only disease that can push people out of one’s life simply for having it. Many addicts have severe withdrawal symptoms from the substances they’re addicted to, so they constantly need to spend money to feed their habit, leaving out room for necessities. The thing about addiction is that it always wants to be fed, it never stops being hungry, and the more you feed it the hungrier it gets. This pattern continues until the user finds themselves sacrificing certain aspects of their life because their brain and body has begun to view drugs as a necessity, even though the user’s mind may feel differently. It’s even more heartbreaking for people who have to watch someone suffer from addiction, as they may fall victim to an addict’s lies, manipulation, etc. This may cause a relationship to completely deteriorate, all because of a dependency on a drug.
The first step we can take in lessening drug addiction is being more open-minded as a society. In my opinion, it’s more common for a drug addict to hear, “Get it together,” or to be judged/shamed for an addiction rather than for someone to simply ask, “How can I help?” or “How are you doing?” While drug addicts need to be held accountable for their actions, being scolded for having a disease will not encourage them to get treatment, it will rather make them want to feed their addictions. Addicts are often isolated (people who get addicted to drugs are 4 times more likely to have a mental illness than non-drug-users) and need some sort of help and guidance, but don’t realize it. Any sort of positivity and slow work towards a goal-oriented mindset, and maybe some rehabilitation, are the best things society can do for addicts. And the best part is that it benefits both sides.
Addiction is ugly. It ruins relationships and it ruins lives. However, there are steps we can take as a society to better understand addicts and help them recover and become better individuals. It won’t come without challenges, but as they tell all addicts, the first step in recovery is addressing that there’s a problem. Maybe that applies to both addicts and non-addicts when it comes to this discussion.