Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 – The Toll of Addiction

Name: Jordan Hawkins

The Toll of Addiction

year since I started High School, I have lost at least one person to
addiction. They didn
die, but who they were did. Addiction used to be a big, scary, and
almost impossible word to me. It was thrown around and seemed like a
distant thing that I wouldn
really have to worry about, until my first loss Freshman year. He had
been my one of my best friends since the seventh grade. Yes, he did
hard drugs, but it wasn
really a problem, was it? I lost that best friend because he thought
that never being sober seemed like a better idea than addressing why
he felt the need to escape. Unfortunately, little did I know, that it
was just the beginning of my exposure to the disastrous effects of

had friends in several social groups in high school, so I saw
addictions of all kinds. But what really hit me was the toll of
substance addictions. My freshman year marijuana became a red flag
for me, and I got worried when friends of mine smoked it so often.
Eventually, I became numb to the use of weed and how many people used
it. Pot stunk up the school hallway, and was often times a lingering
smell in my friends cars. I now wish they had listened whenever
adults would tell us it was a gateway drug.

Toll of Addiction

sophomore year I had a lot of people come into and go out of my life
because of addiction, and I was starting to grow used to it as a new
normal. To me, people leaving my circle of friends because drugs took
over their life became routine. This cycle of social destruction grew
worse as I started my junior year.

year, most of the people I used to call my friends were doing

though I was advising against it, and hated that they were doing
them, I hadn
seen what serious hard drug addiction could really do to a person …
yet. My junior year, even I struggled with using pills. My depression
was so bad I felt like I needed something to help me escape, so I
used the only thing I thought would help. Thankfully, I noticed that
I had a problem and forced myself to stop. However, during the same
timeframe I used, I didn
even notice how bad my friends substance abuse problem had gotten.
The slow influence of drugs and the culture in my school was

friends smoked weed and drank alcohol daily, and it wasn
uncommon to be having a casual conversation with them and later find
that they were on mushrooms or acid at the time. I
had countless nights driving to friends houses and non-stop calls
with them, to make sure the people I cared about hadn
overdosed on a couch somewhere. Addiction was no longer a distant
it was my life. Not a day went by without drugs being mentioned, or
done in front of me. I had seen cocaine, weed, acid, pills and other
drugs so many times that it no longer phased me, because addiction
ruled over my high school world. Often, my friends couldn
pay me back for their $8 McDonald’s meal, but always had enough money
for their quick fix. Commonly during drug tests, these same people
asked me for my clean pee, and when I would say no, it would offend
everyone and I was seen as the person doing wrong.

the beginning of my senior year, one of my best friends was taken
away from me and put in a rehab facility without warning. His deep
rooted hard drug addiction was hidden to me and my friends with what
seemed like as a need for occasional fun. For the first month we were
furious with his mother and had so many unanswered questions. Without
contact with him, we didn
know why he was really there because no one was giving us answers.
Eventually, we came to find out that he was using methamphetamines,
cocaine and many other drugs daily. Plus, there were many more issues
that were all addiction related. After seeing his struggle through
rehab and how he was when he came back, drugs became even more
serious to me. I realized drugs were a danger signal and something I
understood as a threat. Until I realized that I had become so
normalized to it, addiction wasn
as big of an issue to me as it should have been.

ended up losing that friend too. His addiction, anger and habit of
blaming others made him cut me out of his life. From what I know now,
he has been kicked out of his house and is still using and making
excuses for himself. I still worry about what will happen to him on a
daily basis.

even the mention of a friend wanting to do drugs makes me very
uneasy. I think we are in a day and age where the stigma around
addiction needs to be adjusted. Today, we are not too far removed
from the idea that addicts are
heads under the bridge.

have seen so many people struggle with addiction, and if there wasn
such a big cliche

the idea of being an addict, maybe they would have asked for help.
With that being said, I also think we need to reach out to all
generations, my parent
age who did not grow up in a prolific drug culture, my age group that
did, and younger children that are so very vulnerable. It should be
normal for parents to know, recognize, and understand minors
addictions and it shouldn
be normal for a 16 year old to not question why there

cocaine peeking out of their friends pocket. We as a society,
schools, churches, police, parents, and children need to understand
and love each other and accept addiction and learn how to cope and
live with it. We can no longer passively sit back and look past and
ignore the inevitability of people becoming addicted.

have decided that I am going to use my voice and academic study
program to gain a better perspective and position to make a
difference. I want to either create a platform to inform people how
dangerously not being able to say no really is, or work somewhere one
already exists. Although there are many addiction programs available,
I want to help before people need them, as well as, once they are
addicts. It is really important to me to connect with the person and
let them know that they are more than a label, and still a valuable
human being.