Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – The Other Side of Addiction

Name: Karissa Dzwil

The Other Side of Addiction

Other Side of Addiction

up I truly never understood what addiction was. In school, you learn
to never do drugs and to never drink alcohol. What they fail to
inform you on is the way it takes over not just the abuser, but every
single person around them. Losing my family members to addiction was
the hardest thing I have endured but it gave me a lesson I could not
have gained from any teacher or textbook.

growing up, I was so excited for school. I’ve always had a love for
math and science and overall have always wanted to do something
substantial like go to medical school. School was also my escape from
my home life. I had a break from my alcoholic father and his
aggressive outbreaks. I had a break from watching my brother, my best
friend, decline due to his drug abuse. At a young age, I didn’t
understand that my household madness was due to these substances,
but, at the age of 18, I have endured an entire childhood of watching
addiction change the people I love and ultimately take both of their

brother, Kyle, was the greatest friend I have ever known. Through the
insanity at home, he kept me sane and gave me a friend. The crazy
thing about addiction is that it does not follow the stereotype of
person that people associate it with. My brother was young, happy,
funny, and the life of the party. He loved dancing, singing, and
truly lived every second of life to its fullest. On November 10, 2015
Kyle was taken too soon at the age of 24. I lost my best friend, the
only one who always kept me grounded. His many friends, his son, his
family, and everyone he had ever made an impact on was devastated. I
vividly remember the day he gained his wings, my mother sat me down
and explained to me what an overdose was. As a freshman in high
school at the time, it really hurt me that people would think of my
brother the way they describe addicts in school, after they heard the
news. I have spent every day since then telling his story and doing
everything I can to end the stigma around addiction.

August 10, 2019 my father became another angel taken too soon. In my
mind, I have always thought that an opioid addiction was the only
addiction strong enough to take your life. My father has battled with
an alcohol addiction since as long as I can remember, therefore, it
became my normal. In 2019, the addiction began to affect his heart
and major organs and overall led his body into failure. Although my
Dad became aggressive when he drank, I always knew how to find the
good in him. He loved his friends and was always a people person. He
knew how to light up a room and make everyone love him. People around
me blamed him for his actions but in my heart, I knew that the
addiction had taken over and changed him. I knew his good and bad
side and had a very hard time watching the bad take over.

having known these amazing people I learned about the side of
addiction they don’t tell you about in school. How drugs can take
the most amazing human and just break them until they can’t win
their battle. After losing my father, I dealt with a very dark time
in my life dealing with guilt, anxiety, PTSD, and depression. People
often don’t understand that addiction doesn’t just affect the
user, it changes the lives of everyone who loved them. Family members
of addicts just like me all around the world are left with many
mental battles such as depression from a disease like addiction
meanwhile they have never even abused drugs. Many of us are left with
a void in our hearts from a disease that took our family members much
too soon. But the thing about addiction is that their battle is a
battle for them as well as everyone around them.

a nation, we all deal with addiction as a crisis. One reason being:
the stigma around it. People don’t like to bring light to this
epidemic. Most of the nation judges people battling addiction and
have negative ideas about them. If schools taught the other side of
addiction with stories and speakers, people could have the insight
and wisdom that family members like me have unfortunately gained from
experience. Many people haven’t seen what I have seen or dealt with
loss due to drugs, so, they are quick to try new drugs without a
worry. To end this epidemic, we must spread knowledge and share
stories to the public so no one else must learn it the hard way.

that I attend college, I continue to love school and use it as an
escape from the affects that the loss due to addiction has left me
with. I plan on furthering my education and working in the medical
field. I hope that the future generation of kids in school are
presented with more knowledge on addiction than mine was. I hope we
can end the stigma and help the people of the nation deal with a
disease that is overlooked and take away the shame people must deal
with when seeking help. This is how, as a nation, we can help the
epidemic of addiction.