Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Name: Connor Braedon Marshall

Drug and Alcohol Addiction


and Alcohol Addiction


On their website,
the Addiction Center (2019) defines addiction as “a mental disorder
which compels someone to repeatedly use substances or engage in
behaviors even though they have harmful consequences.”
The website also
provides several interesting factors considered when discussing the
reasons behind the addiction crisis. These factors include an
addict’s mental health and the relationship between a drug user’s
age and the potential development of a long-term addiction
(“Addiction Statistics,” 2019).
While these no doubt play
a part in explaining the rise of the addiction crisis we now face, I
think there are important societal factors that seem to regularly be
neglected. For instance, much of society’s interactions and
transactions have followed what I would term the “fast food model.”
Similar to how you receive your food shortly after paying at a fast
food restaurant, people now seem to expect to receive something
almost immediately after completing almost any task. This lack of
patience and desire for instant gratification leads people to search
for activities which almost immediatly result in making them feel
“good.” In a fast-paced, demanding, and competitive society,
people often view drugs as a way to escape from their daily fears and
stressors, a way to feel “good” in light of their struggles. The
idea of “escaping,” I believe, also plays an important role in
explaining why we now face an addiction crisis. Instead of
confronting their problems, whatever they might be, many people
search for ways to simply “escape” and forget about them, with
drugs and alcohol oftentimes being one of the first things they turn
to. People continue to chase that “good” feeling and/or the
ability to “escape,” and addictions are formed.

consequences of the addiction crisis can be seen in numerous ways, on
both a micro- and macro-level. When examining micro-level
consequences, or consequences for the individual, it is hard to argue
that “a
ddictions destroy marriages, friendships, and careers
and threaten a person’s basic health and safety.
(“Addiction Statistics,” 2019) The health consequences of
addiction are seen most clearly in statistics such as it being “one
of America’s most prevalent psychiatric disorders” (Heyman 2009,
p. 13) and the increasing number of deaths due to drug overdose,
which has “more than tripled since 1990.” (“Addiction
Statistics,” 2019)

consequences of the addiction crisis on society, on the other hand,
“can be measured in terms of how drug use has hurt others, as well
as by prevalence statistics and taxpayer dollars.” (Heyman 2009, p.
12) Heyman points out two examples that epitomize the harm caused to
others, firstly through the use of an interview discussion about a
father’s failure to raise his daughter (Heyman 2009, p. 13). On an
even more far-reaching scale, the CDC has argued that, of the 1
million HIV/AIDS cases, an estimated 250,000 of them were the result
of “needles used to inject illegal drugs,” (Heyman 2009, p. 14)
Furthermore, the “substantial drain on public resources” caused
by addiction can be seen in the billions of taxpayer dollars that are
spent on the over 500,000 prisoners incarcerated for drug-related
charges. (Heyman 2009, p. 14) This is just one of the factors
contributing to the reportedly more than $600 billion spent annually
by the US economy as a result of alcohol and drug addiction.
(“Addiction Statistics,” 2019)

Heyman logically points out, “the first step toward a more
effective and efficient response to addiction is to formulate a
coherent, research-based account of its nature.” (2009, p. 18)
Scholars like Linda Richter and Susan Foster contend that such
research-based accounts should not be describing addictions to
different things as separate diseases but should instead consider
them as different manifestations of the same disease. (Richter &
Forster 2014, 62-63) However, more needs to be done than just
changing how society thinks about and discusses additction. Indeed
“other interventions are necessary, including public education
about the nature of the disease, improved education and training of
health professionals, integration of addiction care services into
mainstream health care via an interdisciplinary team of health
professionals, and consistent and full insurance coverage for
addiction-related interventions and disease management. (Richter and
Forester, 2014, p. 63)

most important thing about these interventions, whatever they may be,
is that they never lose focus on their true purpose: treating
addicts, helping them recover, and providing them with the
opportunity, tools, and supports needed to continue their lives
sober. Most, when thinking about potential forms ofremedy for
addicts, focus on medical-based interventions. While logical at
first, and certainly beneficial, meidcal interventions should not be,
and are not, the only remedies provided to addicts. For instance,
“Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other popular twelve-step treatments
are not really medical programs either.” (Heyman 2009, 20) These
types of programs are valuable because “they produce positive
outcomes by enhancing the value of activities that compete with drug
use and have developed effective techniques for encouraging hope in a
brighter future.” (Heyman 2009, 20) By promoting more
“socially-oriented” programs, and combining them with the proper
medical care and financial support, we just may have a chance against
this crisis.




Statistics – Facts on Drug and Alcohol Use.” Addiction Center,
December 5, 2019.



Gene M. “Responses To Addiction.” In
A Disorder of Choice

Massachusetts; London, England: Harvard University Press, 2009.


Linda, and Susan E. Foster. “Effectively Addressing Addiction
Requires Changing the

of Addiction.”
of Public Health Policy

35, no. 1 (2014): 60-64.