Addiction – Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign

Name: Girel Castellon


Addiction is a
very prevalent force in our society. It destroys the lives of not
only those suffering from it, but also those of their family and
friends around them. According to the National Institute on Drug
Abuse, 21 million Americans suffer from at least one addiction, only
10 percent of these individuals receiving treatment.

This is why I
believe our nation is currently dealing with an addiction crises;
inadequate treatment of individuals as well as the focus on
criminalization of drugs instead of rehabilitation. Some states such
as California are already experimenting with the legalization of
certain drugs, such as marijuana. Other countries, such as Portugal,
have taken this to the extreme, in 2001 the country legalizing all
drugs. In the height of a heroin epidemic, a radical move such as
this was made as their last resort. In Portugal, after this was
implemented, the drug-induced death rate plummeted to five times
lower than the E.U. average and one-fiftieth of the United States’.
The rate of HIV infection also decreased significantly from 104.2
million in the year 2000 to just 4.2 million in 2015. Portugal and
the U.S. may be different, but I believe that it is the U.S’
inadequate tackling of the issue that has allowed it to proliferate
as much as it has. Sending people to jail for their offenses instead
of rehabilitating them doesn’t cure their addiction, and instead
makes it more likely that they will simply reoffend.

Addiction’s impact on society is large, the affect varying
depending on the addiction. In total, the cost of drug abuse in the
U.S. is estimated to be more than 820 billion dollars. This manifests
itself in wasted resources, loss of productivity, and increased
health care costs. As for the individual, addictions such as
alcoholism can severely damage the brain, lead to higher risks of a
stroke or heart attack, and even anemia. So called “hard drugs”
such as cocaine and heroin not only pose the risk of overdosing, but
also have the potential to spread diseases (such as aides and HIV)
through the sharing of needles. On a behavioral standpoint, addiction
can cause one to fall into severe depression after the “high” of
the drug wears off, leading addicted individuals to do whatever they
can to get their hands on more. This desperation to relive that
euphoric experience can lead people to act irrationally and strain
their relations with their friends, families, and careers. This is
not even to mention the effects of withdrawal itself, which can
include splitting headaches, fatigue, lethargy, sweating, and intense
shaking. Gagging, vomiting, insomnia, delirium, and severe anxiety
can also occur.

To fight
addiction on both an individual and societal scale, there are
numerous actions that can be taken. As stated before, on a national
level rehabilitation instead of criminal punishment can be used to
help those struggling. More funding and improvement within the mental
health system would also help, since a lot of the people who turn to
drugs (or as a result of them) have experiences with mental illness.
On an individual level, discouragement as a result of education and
the side effects being well known are a good deterrent. Addiction to
cigarettes among teenagers, for example, has significantly gone down
due to the knowledge of cancer being a common side effect. Similarly,
as research is conducted on addictions more prevalent among young
individuals (such as vaping) the same reaction may occur. Already
lawmakers are attempting to make such addictions less appealing by
removing the flavors and colorful marketing which makes them

Addiction is a
crises in the U.S. that needs to be addressed thoroughly. It is only
with education and major changes that those suffering can be helped.