Name: Jennifer Sioxson
From: Stockton, CA
A Look in the Mirror
In the United States in 2013 there were 2.4 million individuals that admitted being addicted to drugs. (www.drugabuse.gov) 2.4 million! That number is only the tip of the iceberg. We are dealing with a national crisis that of which only a minute amount is visible. That number is only indicative of the addicts who admit to being addicted. The ones that get caught, because a lot of us, we never get caught, and some of us wait twenty years to share their story. My reason, and many others I believe, turn to these drugs because they have no idea how to deal with the various degrees of mental illness they experience.
When you picture a drug addict what do you see? I’ll tell you what I see, I see myself. I was one of the millions of Americans that became addicted. You would never know it from looking at me. I looked fine, I held down a full time job, raised my three children. I socialized, I ate, and my kids were clean, they never missed school. I never showed any indication that I was part of that statistic. I held it together because I did not want anyone to know what I was experiencing inside. The drugs helped me function. I was able to concentrate, I had the energy of a rabbit and the more detailed a task was the better I was at it. It also helped me keep away the thoughts of inadequacy, the pain of rejection, and the depression. I rarely slept because the drugs helped me avoid the nightmares. In the end, it only made it worse. Instead of dealing with things head on, I chose to hide from them in the drugs. I did this for ten years. It created different types of mental illnesses that I have to deal with. I have anxiety issues now. I experience panic attacks and I am constantly in fear of what the long term effects of the drugs may have had on my system.
I think one remedy for this situation would be to address the heart of it. Let’s look at how we as a society deal with mental illness. How the world views someone with depression. I think that once we step back and stop demonizing invisible illnesses we can start to take care of the people with them, instead of those people trying to self-medicate with drugs.