Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign – They Are Worth It

Name: Sara Wadsworth

They Are Worth It

United States is facing an addiction crisis. The opioid epidemic
started in the late 1990s and is still affecting thousands of
Americans. It began in the late ‘90’s when pharmaceutical
companies assured doctors that opioid pain relievers and medications
were fine to prescribe to patients and were not addictive. Years and
millions of prescriptions later, this was found to be false. Opioid
medications are actually highly addictive, and doctors had been
prescribing these highly addictive drugs without caution. This led to
millions misusing those medications. Now, millions of Americans are
struggling with addiction to these opioids, and some turn to heroin
(another opioid) to get the “kick” they needed. The 2019 National
Survey on Drug Use found that 10.3 million Americans misused
prescription opioids in 2018. They also found that 2 million had an
opioid disorder that year. Additionally, 808,00 people used heroin in
2018, 81,000 used it for the first time that year, and 2 million
misused prescription opioids that year. Those numbers are growing and
will keep growing unless something is done. The NCHS found that
47,600 people died in 2018 from overdosing on opioids, meaning about
130+ people died everyday from OD-ing on opioids. Furthermore,
another study by Pradip K. Muhuri found that eighty percent of those
who used heroin had misused prescription opioids first. America is
clearly facing an epidemic, and millions are dying from it. Yet
people still do not take it seriously. If there was a serial killer
or a mass shooter who was killing 130+ people a day, the nation would
be in an uproar, but that is not happening. There is too much of a
stigma around drug addiction. American society needs to understand
that those who are addicted are not horrible people, and they need
help, not judgement. We need to realize that addiction affects
everyone, no matter your social class, race, gender, anything. This
problem is not occuring in a far off land. It is happening to your
neighbors, to your friends, to your family, to the person who smiled
at you today. Addiction can affect anyone, and everyone needs to be
concerned about it.

most obvious consequence of addiction is the death of the addict, but
addiction affects the user in more ways than just the physical.
Addicts deal with the daily mental struggle of giving into their
addiction. Some addicts have families and even children that they
want to be there for, but their addiction can cause them to push them
away. The user does not want to distance themselves from those they
love, but they feel like they have to because it is so hard for them
to make the choice of them over their nagging, all encompassing
addiction. Addicts go through immeasurable amounts of emotional
trauma, and so do those who love them. FIrst and foremost, some
babies are born addicted to drugs because their mother lost the
battle between her and her addiction. Additionally, children of
addicts have to see their parent, someone who is supposed to be a
role model for them, go through addiction. They are exposed to the
darkest parts of the world at a very young age and often have to take
on responsibility because their parent is unable to. Some children
have to take care of themselves or even their parent. Not to mention,
they deal with conflicting feelings towards the parent. My older
brother, the only father figure in my life, is addicted to alcohol.
It is extremely difficult to sort out your emotions towards them. You
want to be there for them, but they are rarely there for you. You
want to hate them, but you know they are struggling. I truly believe
that having an addict family member is the most mentally tasking
experience in the world. Likewise, I have seen my mother and my aunt
(she has a heroin addict son) go through the same motions I have.
They are conflicted with their anger towards them and their love for
them. They are their children, and they are meant to love and care
for them unconditionally, but having an addict for a son complicates
it. My aunt says that she will never support his life choices, but
she has to be there to support him. That same son of hers, Steven (my
cousin), was staying with us for a few weeks. My mom got his son,
Jerious, out foster care in 2007 when he was two, so he lived with
us. Steven was good for a few days, but one day, while me and Jerious
where in school, he left and came back with drugs and a girl. He
completely trashed my room and Jerious’. That girl and him were
doing drugs in both our rooms, and Jerious was furious. For the first
time, he yelled at his dad and told him to get out of his house. My
mother ended up finding out and kicking Steven out. Jerious was
traumatized from it. For months, he refused to go into his room out
of fear he would touch something and get high. He is still obsessed
with cleaning his hands constantly and not touching anything he
“doesn’t trust”. Addiction affects the user and everyone who
knows them. Moreover, society is affected by addiction. Those addicts
could be otherwise productive members of society. That heroin addict
down the street could have been a surgeon. The woman the police just
narcanned could have cured cancer. Those people are meant to do
something in this world, and their addiction is holding them back.
Society is hindered without the advances those addicts could have
made. We, as a society, need to work together to stop all the agony
addiction is causing for users, their families, their friends, and
society as a whole.

of now, addicts are not receiving the help they need to get better.
There needs to be better resources for addicts. Rehabilitation
centers need to be more accessible and cheaper. More organizations
need to work towards this goal. In time, I hope that society will see
how immensive this issue is, and taxpayers can help to fund rehab
centers. When I get into college, I want to use my experience, my
voice, and my time to help addicts in my community through volunteer
work and/or research. Another issue addiction recovery is facing is
the stigma around addiction and rehabilitation. People need to be
educated about addiction and how it does not affect only “those
people”. Addiction is widespread and not something that they should
be shamed for. Obviously, they need to be encouraged to see that they
have problems, but judgement is not going to make them want to
recover. In fact, it may make them want to use more and not go to
rehab because the constant judgement makes them believe they will be
forever seen as a worthless addict, no matter what they do. Addicts
need support. That is what will make them seek help and go into
recovery. Seeing that people love and care about them will inspire
them to change; if not for themselves, then for those who love them.
Children also need to be educated on this, so they do not grow up
with toxic (and unhelpful) opinions towards addicts. Kids need to be
educated on the effects of drugs and given alternatives to drugs. For
example, when they feel alone or stressed, they can see a counselor
instead of using. The last way to help stop addiction is by changing
the way the justice system handles addicts. As a future Criminal
Justice major, this one hits home for me. Addicts do not need to
spend time in jail. While it may seem like jail is a good way to
force them to detox, there are two main issues with that argument.
One is jail does not have the resources to help addicts. All jail
would do is make the addict cut the habit cold turkey (meaning all at
once). Not only is this dangerous, but addicts will just keep using
the drug once they get out since they are not given any coping
strategies or anything of the such. The second issue with the
argument is that inmates can still get drugs in jail. Granted, it is
harder, but hundreds of prisoners do it. To solve this, judges need
to stop sending non-violent addicts to jail. Instead, they need to
send them to rehabilitation centers where they will learn to cope
with their addiction and will be guided to recovery. Addicts are not
a lost cause, they just need to be given a way to recovery. I
strongly believe that every single person on this Earth is worth
something. Every person is capable of greatness. Addiction is an
obstacle that they are all capable of overcoming with help, support,
and guidance. Our society needs to help addicts live up to their full
potential because they are all worth it.