From: Parker, United States
School: University of Hawaii Manoa
I, myself have not directly dealt with drug and/or alcohol addiction up close and personal. I also have not had any addiction struggles myself. Today I will be sharing the story of my grandfather and my mother’s experience growing up. My mother’s father fell into alcoholism after his wife, my grandmother’s, death. It was sudden and tragic, and she left behind three children under the age of 18. My grandfather didn’t know how to cope with his feelings and instead decided to drown them with alcohol. My mother watched her father transform into a completely different man right before her eyes. He became abusive verbally and physically which lead to her relationship with him to fall apart. Not only this but he was neglecting my mother and her siblings. All three of them were then shuffled around distant family members in an effort for someone to care for them more than their father. This created even more resentment towards him. As they grew older and more independent, they continued to watch him slowly kill himself. He eventually died after approximately 30 years of heavy alcohol abuse.
My grandfather died many years before I was born but I still believe these experiences she had helped her become a strong mother to raise me. She then strived to give me a life she never had. This was something she successfully completed. I always had a stable home, I never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from, and I always knew that I was loved. I do wish my mom got the childhood and love she deserved but those experiences, in turn, affected my life for the better and I am so grateful for that. I do wish I could have gotten the chance to meet my grandfather but, in a way, I did, through my mom’s stories about him before he fell into addiction.
As a nation I think we are dealing with addiction so intensely is because as a country we are in pain. This pain can stem from a variety of different issues. Some people might become addicted to substances after a traumatic event in their lives, a death in the family, a painful accident, or life circumstances. Mental health issues are way more prevalent than they have been in the past partly because now most mental disorders are recognized as severe issues. This doesn’t mean people are sadder now it just means people are taken more seriously for their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. In an attempt to self soothe people often turn to drugs for that burst of serotonin. We as a society must continue this trend of taking people seriously and finding out the root of their pain or sadness. Once this is discovered treatment can be administered early which can reduce addictions numbers.
Some consequences that are suffered by those who find themselves addicted to any substance include destroyed potential, the tearing apart of families, and premature death due to complications of addiction. Addiction, no matter the type of severity is a serious issue that can drive a wedge between a person and their family members. This occurs only out of pure love for that person and fear for their health and/or safety. Sometimes family members can approach the person in a wrong way which can further pull family members apart. As family members are constantly pushed away, they can even care less which is so dangerous because that is when this person needs them the most. Another great loss is the loss of potential due to addiction. To me, this is such a disservice to everyone everywhere. We have no way of knowing what that person was capable of which the right tools and support. This isn’t always the case as some people can return from addiction and come back on the other side better than before. The obvious effect on society is the growing premature death of people due to medical complications of addiction. These are always avoidable and so tragic no matter the age of the person.
In order to remedy the crisis both individual and societal is to simply show compassion. When friends or family of a struggling person show love and compassion for them to heal and grow this helps them find motivation. When we as a society stop seeing people suffering from addiction as dirty, worthless, or not worth our time and we can aid in their healing and help them get back on their feet. Part of this is imagining yourself in their place, if you were struggling and needed more support, you would hope that others in your community would provide. Helping remove the stigma around people with addiction is a giant step towards preventing it, helping them receiver treatment which in turn lowers numbers of addicted people.