Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – Addressing Prevalence of Addiction

Name: Mason Berndt

Addressing Prevalence of Addiction



in Malibu: Addiction Awareness Campaign 2020

Prevalence of Addiction

as long as humanity has been around, there has been availability of
physical and psychological altering substances. While some substances
have are artificial, equally as many are manufactured. Substance use
is not harmful in and of itself. In fact, in many cases it can be a
beneficial component to improving an individual’s quality of life.
However, concern arises when substance use leads into addiction, as
it affects an individual and society negatively. As time has elapsed,
statistics have shown an alarming increase in addiction rates within
society. Addiction rates are exponentially higher than our rising
population numbers, thus, is an area of concern that deserves
analysis. In the proceeding essay, I would like to offer my input on
why I believe biological, psychological and societal factors are
related to the increased prevalence of substance addiction.

research over the past couple decades have shed light on the role
genes play in the likelihood an individual may develop a substance
addiction. While the findings have been somewhat mixed, it appears as
though addiction is related to fifty percent genetic predisposition.
Clearly, there are many other variables at play to explain the
remaining fifty percent. However, as addiction becomes increasing
prevalent, it means that more children are being born with genetic
predispositions to developing a substance addiction in our society.
In an evolutionary sense, it is a step in the wrong direction. Upon
examination of other influential factors contributing to rising
substance prevalence, it understandable why increased genetic
susceptibility toward addiction is unnerving.

factors, such as mental illness, play a role in how likely someone
may become addicted to substances. Increased mental illnesses
prevalence, as a result of expanding diagnostic criteria and mental
health awareness leads to concern in how people cope with their
mental illness. Research has shown that individuals who suffer from
depression and anxiety hold a greater likelihood of developing a
substance addiction. While pharmaceutical drugs are the preferred
treatment option for mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety
over illicit drugs due to having undergone extensive research prior
to distribution, they too still hold risk for potential addiction
development. If pharmaceutical drugs are highly encouraged in our
society, it is important to be aware of the risks of addiction at an
individual level. When battling a mental health illness, you already
have enough on your plate, much less adding the struggle of addiction
on top of that.

in what I believe to be one of the greatest contributing factors
toward increased substance addiction prevalence is an array of
societal factors, such as promotion, and accessibility. At an
individual level, it appears to be popular among certain professions
to highlight excessive drug use. For example, in the genre of rap
music, lyrics predominately center around immoderate drug use and
violence. When rap artists who are viewed as pop culture icons in
society produce music with drugs being the focal point, it creates a
skewed societal perception that this type of behavior is acceptable.
Moreover, this type of message delivered by rappers is predominately
accessed by easily influenced naïve teenagers, in which the
likelihood of developing a substance addiction is far greater.
Promotion of drug abuse by pop culture icons in society will
inevitably lead to encouragement of the same behavior at an
individual level. We need to do better.

the accessibility to substances has only increased. Every convenience
store lines the shelves with alcohol, and pharmaceuticals. Coffee
shops are on the corner of every block in a large city. Dispensaries
locations are rapidly growing. It comes to no surprise that through
allowance all these substances to be so readily accessible within our
society, we are observing a struggle with addiction among many
individuals. It is a sad reality that use of substances carry
explicit and implicit risks that many people cannot handle.

the aforementioned examination is our current reality, I believe
there is still potential to rectify our current societal addiction
prevalence. Foremost, through increased awareness on the risk of
genetic predisposition at an individual level, it may help deviate
hopeful parents in engaging with substance use. In order to combat
the addiction risk associate with substance use as a treatment for
individuals with mental illnesses, I believe that encouraging natural
coping remedies in society could help alleviate the risk. Natural
remedies such as yoga, exercise and mindfulness have been shown in
research to be effective coping strategies for individuals battling
mental illnesses. Lastly, discouraging content related to substance
abuse among our music influencers and reducing the availability of
access to substances could limit the chance an individual will engage
and or potential abuse a substance. The increased prevalence of
substance addiction is undeniable, but actions taken at individual
level to combat the issue will translate to mediating the crisis at a
societal level.