Name: Sabrina Marie Simmons
From: Phoenix, Arizona
Behind the National Addiction Crisis Lies The American Dream
Running head: BEHIND THE NATIONAL ADDICTION CRISIS
Behind the National Addiction Crisis Lies the American Dream
By Sabrina Simmons
Have you ever thought about reasons why addiction is so prevalent in America or when the epidemic began? As an American citizen I am sure these questions, or questions along the same lines have crossed your mind a time or two. Addiction is everywhere you turn. We see addiction on the television. We here advertisements for addiction rehabilitation on the radio. We all know somebody that has suffered from the awful torment of drug addiction; whether being an addict themselves or a person that is emotionally attached in some sort to a struggling addict. Addiction is a very sad subject, as are the reasons I believe we as a nation are dealing with an addiction crisis. In this paper, my belief for the addiction crisis in America will be discussed. Along with how addiction affects the addict and society. As well as how I believe as a nation this issue can be remedied for both the individual and society.
My Belief on the Reason We are Dealing with an Addiction Crisis
There are five major institutions of society- family, church, education, and economy (marketplace). These social institutions are the tools, that we as a nation use to not only establish but sustain society against natural enemies. We articulate specific rules of conduct and use the instruments of social institution to allow peaceful co-existence in society. So, what happened? Where did we go wrong? I believe the rise in addiction, which eventually became our national addiction crisis, began with the disassembly of the first social institution, family. The American Dream, states, “For many in both the working class and the middle class, upward mobility has served as the heart and soul of the American Dream, the prospect of “betterment” and to “improve one’s lot” for oneself and one’s children much of what this country is all about. “Work hard, save a little, send the kids to college so they can do better than you did, and retire happily to a warmer climate” has been the script we have all been handed”, by Samuel Lawrence, is what we as a nation claim to aspire. However, the fundamental unit of our society, the family, began to deconstruct. With the fundamental unit of society no longer intact the other institutions soon followed suit leaving our nation improperly balanced.
In 1980, Governor Ronald Reagan, signed the first bill allowing no-fault divorce, in attempt to provide a way to avoid strife. However, in hindsight, years later he claimed this to have been the biggest mistake of his political career (Wilcox, 2009). Along with bills passing in every state for no-fault divorce, came an acceptance in the American culture, to dismantle families. The cultural foundation in which held America broke with the up rise in family separations. The magnitude of social dysfunction in American society could not have been foreseen by the acceptance of this new view. The profound effects of the prevalence of divorce has had on society is astounding. It is not a far leap to correlate the relationship between family; the American foundation, and the issues of crime, abuse, and addiction that America now faces. When divorce became a more open option the attitude of our culture changed. The more conservative American view dimmed, in light of the new freedoms the American people seen in divorce rights. The sanctity of marriage and family was no longer of highest importance. Divorce rates sky-rocketed eventually leading to acceptance of cohabitation and children being born out of wedlock. With the prevalence of divorce our nation has been hit with perverse ill effects, that unfortunately affect not only individuals, but society and the effects extend through generations. With our nations culture no longer being family based on marriage minded, the generation of today must deal with threats of becoming weak in several aspects of life including, educationally, emotionally, and physically. Dealing with these direct affects of the dismantling of the family foundation, have caused a dysfunctional America seeking self-medication, resulting in the American National Crisis.
The Consequences of Addiction for the Individual and Society
Being a recovering addict myself, I can attest to the consequences of my own personal addiction and how my addiction affected society, in turn societies consequences. Being raised in dysfunction and dealing with internal dysfunction, all those years age, I believed illicit drugs were the cure for every single one of my ailments. I did not believe addiction was real, and if it was real, I was immune to it. It was not very long after my first dive into the world of illicit drugs that I knew I was wrong I was an addict. Discovering that my ideology of my own immunity to addiction was not the only thing I was wrong about. Come to find out, the use of illicit drugs, and becoming an addict does not cure dysfunction. The first noticeable and rememberable consequence of my addiction is the added contribution of more dysfunction in my life, both externally and internally. Stuck in a peril of dysfunction and addiction I no longer even knew who I truly was. The farther I went in my addiction, the farther the real me went away. Eventually coming to the point where I no longer could even catch a glimpse of the girl I once knew; myself, the girl who only before thought her life to be dysfunctional. My addiction took me on journeys to places I never would have imagined myself to be, participating in things the old me would not even be capable to fathom. The consequence of me becoming an individual that no longer knew herself projected her addiction on society and deeming it undeserved consequences. I was committing crimes of theft and raging with hostility through my community daring society to step to me, leaving a path of destruction every where I went; not seeing through my blinded vision that I was the one hurting me the most. I had deemed myself unworthy of anything good and submitted to the emotional and mental pain and allowed myself to succumb to my addiction. My reality was not true reality at all, but I could not see past my addiction. As if losing my identity to myself was not consequences enough, my criminal behaviors put me in the criminal justice system, more than once. I had cost my community a multitude of money through theft and destruction during my expanded twenty-year journey and left the consequences of rebuilding my destruction upon the shoulders of society.
Once I finally hit my rock bottom, which oddly enough being addicted to methamphetamines, was just being tired; I believed I had repaid my debt to society and clear of further consequences from addiction. Once again, I was wrong. In addiction I felt as healthy as a horse. Shortly after committing to sobriety, I began having symptoms of health issues one right after another. I began experiencing temporary loss of use of my extremities, frequent numbness through-out my body and severe migraines. My concentration was weak, and I suffered from a sleeping and eating disorder. After six years of numerous test being ran, and a high-risk pregnancy with a premature delivery by c-section, in which anything that could go wrong did, I received a diagnosis. I was diagnosed with a rare disease called Addison’s disease. There is no link of illicit drug use and Addison’s disease, however there is not an extensive amount of research done either. Whether there is a scientific link or not is irrelevant as to whether this disease is seen as consequential of my addiction or not, because for me it is a direct consequence of my addiction. I wasted so much of my life, destroying not just me but anyone that was in my vicinity and now sober with everything in the world to live for, I have an incurable disease in which I can die from. This is the consequence I have been given from the karma of my addiction. For so many years life did not matter to me; mine or anyone else’s. For the rest of my life I must take a daily medication, in which during the pandemic our world is facing now, is hard to obtain. I disturbed the natural order of the chemicals within my body for twenty-years. My addiction boosted some chemicals and put others to bed. I do not need any scientific research or confirmation to know that I now suffer with a disease in which is direct chemical (hormone) deficiency, I brought upon myself. Additionally, the consequences again did not halt with me, I am a felon, a violent felon at that, so, direct employment to a high salary career is not what I landed upon my release from prison. Living legitimately, below poverty level, as a fulltime student, wife, mother, and low-end wage employee, I depend on the state Medicaid to assist me in my medical bills. My reliance upon the government to assist me is just another unfortunate society consequence to the demonic addiction I battled.
Remedy the Crisis, Individually & Society
I began this paper with discussing my belief, that by the institution of family, marriage as the foundation deconstructing, being the direct cause, or reason that we are facing the national addiction crisis. Therefore, I believe to remedy this crisis of addiction in our nation, the leaders of out nation need to deliver our country with a cultural belief makeover. It was policies implemented by the political parties of this nation that ultimately gave permission for the attitude in culture to shift from a family-based foundational system to one of divorce and broken families being acceptable in our nation. It is now time for the political parties of our nation to stop avoiding the immense effects dismantling families has had on our entire nation and reimplement fault only divorces and bring back the attitude of sanctified marriages. It is time to take the blinders off and really take in the destruction that the “freedom”, of no-fault divorces has brought our country. The high statistical rates of divorce, crime, addiction, devaluation of education, generational cycles of abuse, neglect incarceration and mental illness. I believe to help the individual we must start with a society change. It has been said for many generations that, “it takes a village”, generally referring to rearing children, however this quote fits this situation to a tee. It is going to take everyone to unite and rebuild the familial foundational beliefs of America to prevent further damage for out future generations.
Another remedy for the addiction crisis is a change in our rehabilitation and recovery process. We must stop telling the addict that relapse is a part of recovery. This is a lie we have been conditioned to believe to justify our choice to return to what we have consciously learned to be bad. If an addict is to be successful in recovery, we need to assist them in believing themselves worthy of recovery. We must tell them abstaining from substances, with no room for relapse, is the only way to recover. They must understand that they do deserve and can have The American Dream, but it takes work and commitment. An addict will walk naked, barefoot and in the dead of winter to get to the substance they seek. It is that same mentality that an addict needs to seek in recovery. They should be willing to go to the same lengths to obtain recovery as they would have gone to for their drug of choice. An addict needs to know that they are not alone, It is common for addicts to hurt people that they care about during their addiction and many times burning bridges with those individuals. This is when society needs to step in and assist the addict in healing so the addict can hopefully make amends to those they hurt and repair the damaged bridges they left in wake of their addiction.
I know that addiction is beatable. I am living proof. I still face the consequences of my addiction daily, but today I chose to live daily. With all odds against me I am a 40-year-old violent felon, with more time on drugs or locked up than being productive in society, and battling a rare uncurable disease, I am beating the odds. I am a survivor, a warrior, an unstoppable child of the almighty and I was made to soar. I was stuck in addiction for 20 years. That is literally half of my life, but the best of my life is yet to come. I am worthy and I do deserve goodness. I do the work that life entails to reach my goals and win, lose, or draw I know that I will not succumb to the enticements of addiction again, because addiction cannot beat me.
Addiction is beatable and our country is salvageable. If this nation of stolen land, can be built upon from different colonies, immigrants from all over the world and lead as the place that everyone in the world sees hope for a future; we can beat this crisis. This land has soaked up blood shed many times to create a change for the intent of betterment for its people, the battle with the addiction crisis just needs a complete attitude makeover. Standing in unity, we the people, of America, the greatest nation on earth are capable of admitting our flaws in history and rebuilding on the evidence-based methodology of the institution of family, starting with the marital foundation and knowing at the end of the battle, when addiction waves the flag of surrender we again will be able to provide The American Dream to the future of our nation.
Wilcox, W. B. (2009). The evolution of divorce. National Affairs. https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-evolution-of-divorce
2020 Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign