Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – More Love; Less Stigmatization


More Love; Less Stigmatization

Love; Less Stigmatization

is a vicious disease of the mind, body, and soul. Today’s nation is
currently dealing with an addiction crisis; so much so that according
to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health [NSDUH] almost 20
million Americans had at least one addiction as of 2017. (Thomas,
2020) Addiction is chronic, relapsing, and relentless. It causes
needless early death, destruction of family units, homelessness, and
incarcerations. Specially looking at drug overdoses, it is now the
leading cause of accidental death in the United States and as many as
115 people die every day. (United Health Foundation, 2020)

is common argument between members of society over whether or not
addiction is a disease and where it stems from. Some blame poor
genetics; others hold environmental factors culpable. Many people
will even say it’s purely poor choices and a lack of will-power. I
believe addiction is extraordinarily complex disease and doesn’t
have just one culprit. It’s true that every addiction derives from
an initial choice, but one does not choose to be an addict. Also,
not every person who chooses to use a certain substance will fall
victim to addiction. This is where genetics come into play; while
some people can use a few times and not have the deep desire to keep
using, others can become dependent fairly quickly. I believe a common
trend with why a person begins to fall into addiction is the chase
for a mental escape or to cope with psychiatric issues. When a person
doesn’t know how to work through their traumas and emotional
turmoil, the typical response is to try and numb it out.

addiction deteriorates mental and physical wellbeing, impacts
relationships with loved ones, causes home and job loss, and can
ultimately lead to death. Addiction is also a family disease and
affects the whole family unit. There is an obvious correlation
between addiction and divorce or separations. It separates children
from parents, and leads to unfit parenting which increases child
abuse and neglect cases. On the societal level, institutions are
overpacked with drug offenders and there is a large amount of crime
that could be attributed to drug abuse. We also see a tremendous
financial cost imposed on society due to loss of job productivity,
disease, incarceration, and an increase need for foster care and
homeless shelters. Needless to say, there is also major public safety
concerns surrounding substance abuse which include but are not
limited to automobile accidents, violence, and stray needles.

remedy for this epidemic isn’t an easy or simple fix. While each
individual has their own path to recovery, there needs to be societal
changes within to aid in their recoveries as well as prevention
measures. The federal government needs to take action and changes
need to be implemented on a systemic level to prevent this situation
from worsening. One of the most essential changes should be
decriminalization which would not only save society money, but would
reduce negative stigma, prioritize health and safety over punishment,
and could allow for harm-reduction programs without barriers.
Everyone deserves the ability to seek out help without the fear of
being arrested. Addicts are not getting the help they need and their
poor records will follow them through their life, causing more
hardships with finding gainful employment, adequate housing, and
furthering education.

an individual is ready to seek out their path to recovery, there
could be financial barriers. To tackle this barrier, all federally
funded insurance programs should include adequate addiction care
coverage, and private insurance companies should be urged to follow
suite. If a person is not ready for treatment, harm reduction
(naloxone, safe injection zones, etc.) should be the goal until they
are. If a drug related emergency does happen, a Warm Handoff program
could connect the individual with resources for assistance as well as
a support system. Implementing more of these programs across the
nation will save lives and increase likelihood of individuals
reaching out for help; sometimes people just don’t know where to
turn when they are in the whirlwind of addiction.

is the most powerful weapon against addiction. Our youth need to be
fully educated on the dangers of addiction and this should be
mandated in every school’s curriculum. When I attended school, the
programs followed an abstinence only logic lectured by a police
officer. Students didn’t resonate with this approach. I feel a more
realistic method would be successful provided with concrete facts.
Recovering addicts should be able to come into the classroom to share
their stories. Addiction education should be mandated for all
healthcare and non-health care professionals that work with the
public, as well. This disease does not discriminate. The most
significant act society could do is to replace stigmatization and
judgment with love and empathy.


S. (2020). Addiction Statistics: Drug & Substance Abuse
Statistics. Retrieved from

Health Foundation. (2020). Public Health Impact: Injury Deaths.
Retrieved from