Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – No Secret, No Shame


No Secret, No Shame

Laura Aguiniga

Seasons Malibu Addiction Awareness



No Secret, No Shame

There are many necessities in life such as clothing, food, and shelter. They are necessary because these are parts of an individual that keep them alive for the better. Clothing and shelter provide protection from the elements that would allow one to wither away. Food is necessary for the nourishment and health of any being that is living. Friends and family provide financial as well as emotional support. It is no secret that these are needed for an individual to grow and prosper. Addiction can hinder this growth potential, addiction is considered a disease of the brain which can alter a person’s behavior as it alters the pathways of the neurotransmitters. There are many types of addiction and there is no shame in being an addict. As a society, addiction is a common crisis because of the availability to each individual’s craving, as will be mentioned with the types of addiction there are, as well as the individual’s willingness to constantly use the drugs or addictive substance. A common misconception is that addiction is a choice rather than a disease. This is not beneficial to the individual and can even push the individual toward their addictive urges nor is it beneficial for society to have this view. In today’s society it would benefit the community, but also individuals within each community, to educate about “addiction” as a disease, the addiction process, but equally important the manifestations of addiction such as gambling, sex, pornography, love, food and/ or food cravings, eating disorders, computer and internet addiction, social media addiction, gaming, money, and finally drug addiction (AddictionHelper, n.d.). This list only names a few types of manifestations as there are many more.

To shed light on the understanding of addiction it is best to understand the evolution of the word itself. According to etymology online dictionary, the origin of “addiction” was founded in 1600. Originally it comes from the latin base addictio which was a noun past participle form of addicere which means “to deliver, devote, consecrate, or sacrifice”. It was not solely used as a form of drug hindrance and was not associated with that use until 1779 in response to tobacco use. Still the use of the word was less severe until its use in 1906 after the term “addiction” was used for opium habits (Addiction, n.d.). It is best to also note a misconception of the word dependence: in association with addiction, dependence is an association with addiction however should not be used interchangeably. Dependence would be better known as the physical apparatus brought on by the body’s modification of function after abuse of a substance, whereas addiction is the emotional and social effect of the substance abuse but may also include the physical dependence (Discovering the Truth About Addictions, 2018). For a better understanding, a person is addicted when they can go for days or weeks without the addictive material however will eventually succumb to the mental pressure and lose all control of how much they consume. They may not have gone through withdrawal during those few days or weeks as with dependence, however they still felt the craving of such substance. As claimed before, these phenomena are very prevalent in modern society. The internet is very accessible to those who have a computer and/or internet addiction. Drugs are very accessible in communities and neighborhoods, if they were not, substance abuse issues would not be such an issue. Alcohol can be picked up at the nearest gas stations, as can any of the sugary foods and sweeteners that cause food addictions. Caffeine is in almost every building imaginable, such as grocery stores, gas stations, coffeeshops, homes, office buildings, etc. Other outside the box addictions including gaming, gambling, and religion are also advertised or displayed to the public. By surrounding those who are addicted, it is as if those with an addiction are in for a losing battle should they choose to quit. One benefit to this mania is that it can be treated and a proper education of self-reliance would benefit both individuals and society as a whole.

While the solutions are important, it is equally important to understand the difficulties addiction can have on individuals and society. Addiction causes an issue for more than the individual. For instance, an individual with drug addiction may not want to hurt their family or those around them but they feel a dire urge to use that drug. In the process they may steal, lie, and cheat. A personal story of mine includes a family member of mine, (though I would prefer not to say out of respect for the individual), who went to jail as a young girl because they were addicted to both alcohol and fast cars. They threatened themselves as an individual but also their local community, such as when they drank too much and drove too fast then they ended up driving through the neighbor’s yard. It is not their intention to harm others, however they consumed too much and hurt themselves and others in the process. For instance the legal and incarceration system is largely funded by taxpayers but also includes criminals with drug abuse and or substance addictions. Many drugs that are highly addictive can result in a felony thus having a person behind bars for a long period of time. That in turn affects society because portions of funding are needed there, for instance one study reported 182 billion dollars went to the legal system, rather than let’s say the school system or even the healthcare system (Wagner, Bernadett, 2017). At an individual level substances can also mimic natural neurotransmitters in the brain but send abnormal messages through the body, thus in turn is creating the dependence that was discussed earlier (Volkow, 2018). The brain has a portion called the basal ganglia, that is the reward-circuit of the brain, drugs can overstimulate this circuit and can diminish the sensitivity and later the individual can get depressed, whereas another portion called the amygdala is responsible for the discomfort felt during withdrawal and the person is likely to chase relief rather than a high at this point in dependence (Volkow, 2018). A resolution to these issues is proper education on the human brain and drugs. A better understanding would benefit because then as an individual it will be understood why so many variances can cause a person to become dependent or addicted to certain mechanisms.

As a society it is our responsibility to change the education route that teaches youth about drugs. In current systems they are learning two different things, what they hear from a police officer in the D.A.R.E. program and what is learned from family members or even science when they see the laws changing at the state level. It is not as simple as sending in a police officer to say that there are substances out there that will slowly but surely kill the body. There are news articles, such as one from CNN, stating that hallucogenic mushrooms were decriminalized in Colorado explaining that psilocybin is a natural component to a wide range of mushrooms. The article also explains that the ‘magic mushroom’ was considered a Schedule I with the US Department of Justice, meaning that the fungi have no medicinal properties (Chavez, 2019. Prior, 2019). In light of this fact, the Mental Health Clinician has written a peer-reviewed article with the US National Library of Medicine on the clinical potential of psilocybin to help with a wide range of mental health disorders including substance abuse disorders. The conclusion of the study stated there were potential benefits to the use of psilocybin in treatment of disorders including but not limited to anxiety and substance abuse. It is the responsibility of the individual to work on their mental health as well as their overall health in order to help ease their addiction. Eating less sugary foods and less processed foods will help curb food addictions because the nutrients from the other food are necessary. It is their responsibility to see a therapist or get help for their mental health if necessary rather than using another substance. At the national level it is important to change the laws and learn more about these substances in order to give proper guidance without sounding like they are only pushing the harsh negatives of substance use. One benefit of the D.A.R.E. program they mention resisting peer pressure. That is a huge benefit because that does happen but it is not always what happens, in fact, they should use the education process to educate them on coping mechanisms for stress and other stress factors.

Together everyone shares a responsibility to ease addiction and help stop it before it starts. There are many things very accessible to adults and children that are influencing them to become addicted to mechanisms such as video games, computers, social media, caffeine, sugar, and processed foods, etc. As for adults it is very easy to get access to prescription medication, alcohol, caffeine and sugary foods as well. These can easily be passed on to the children without the parent noticing especially if they are in a state of intoxication. As a society or an individual it is their responsibility to educate the children about how addiction can start as well as how to prevent it such as finding other coping mechanisms and asking for help. The children should learn more about the laws of these substances and how to prevent themselves from falling into the cycle as well as growing to open their mind to changing laws. It is our responsibility to take care of the future generations with honesty, integrity, and understanding that they are capable of understanding. It is no secret that addiction is a disease that can pass through generations. There is no shame in speaking up about how these addictions start and how to prevent and change the laws for the future.


Works Cited


“Addiction (n.).” Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper,

Chavez, Nicole, and Ryan Prior. “Denver Becomes the First City to Decriminalize Hallucinogenic Mushrooms.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 May 2019,

Daniel, Jeremy, and Margaret Haberman. “Clinical Potential of Psilocybin as a Treatment for Mental Health Conditions.” The Mental Health Clinician, College of Psychiatric & Neurologic Pharmacists, 23 Mar. 2018,

“Discovering the Truth about Addictions.” Addiction Helper,, 18 Dec. 2018,

Volkow, Nora D. “Drugs and the Brain.” NIDA, NIH, July 2018,

Volkow, Nora D. “Treatment and Recovery.” NIDA, NIH , July 2018,

Wagner, Peter, and Bernadette Rabuy. “Following the Money of Mass Incarceration.” Prison Policy Initiative, Jan. 2017,