Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 - Not Even Once

Name: Benjamin...
From: Excelsior, Minnesota
School: Brigham Young University
Votes: 0 Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 - Not Even Once

Not Even Once

Not
even once

Everyone
knows drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are addictive, but millions of
people start using them each year. Why? Why would someone try drugs
or gambling or whatever it may be if it could obviously ruin their
life? In my own research, I have learned that addictions exist
because they make money for someone, who in turn encourages the
addictive behavior and lures unsuspecting people into addiction. We
can slow down addiction by treating it like the public health problem
it is, combining aggressive public policy campaigns with increased
public awareness.

In
the words of a 1970s Watergate documentary, the key to understanding
crime is to “follow the money.”
1
Addiction is the same way. Most people know, for instance, that the
tobacco industry promoted their addictive product in a variety of
nefarious ways throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, including marketing
to children, denying the harmful effects of smoking, and manipulating
a vast array of politicians and scientists into doing their bidding.
2
The result was catastrophic: 100 million people died of tobacco use
in the 20
th
century alone.
3
The alcohol industry, in contrast, has pulled many of the same moves
without getting noticed. Social media ads promoting binge drinking
are commonplace, despite the industry’s widely ignored code of
ethics, and clever marketing to youth and women has resulted in
unprecedented levels of drinking among those groups too.
4
Clearly, addiction is not just a personal mistake or an individual
disease, like most people think; addiction is a deeply-rooted social
problem created by rich, powerful actors.

Because
addiction is a large-scale problem supported by lots of cash, a
similarly large-scale response is necessary. Smoking, again, provides
a good example of this. The tobacco industry practically got away
with murder until about 1965, when public health authorities and
their private-sector allies began using the power of public policy to
turn the tide. Over the next 25 years, TV ads for cigarettes
disappeared, Joe Camel fell off the radar, and a host of regulations
and lawsuits considerably weakened the marketing might of big
tobacco.
5
We need a similar legal response today against the alcohol, gambling,
and marijuana industries, which have all to some degree convinced
Americans to accept the unacceptable. We also need to increase public
awareness of the dangers of those substances. After all, the easiest
cigarette or drink or slot machine to resist is the first one. After
that, in the words of a wise leader, “[you] are not simply fighting
temptation; [you] are also fighting chemistry.”
6


One
of the biggest questions that addicts ask themselves is “What if?”
What if I had never taken that first (drink/drug/casino trop)? What
would I be feeling like right now? What about my family? I want to
live in a world with less “what ifs.” If we want to stop
addiction as a society, then we need to take the uncomfortable step
of confronting the big, powerful actors that support it and the
social forces that sustain it. We need to totally change the game.
Only then can we hope for an addiction free world.

References

1
“All the President’s Men,” 1976

2
“Trends in Tobacco Industry Marketing,” tobaccofreekids.org

3
thetruth.com, fact 140

4
“For women, heavy drinking has been normalized. That’s
dangerous.” Washington post.

5
“Big Tobacco: A history of its decline” CNN

6
“Avoid it,” Lynn G. Robbins, BYU Speeches


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Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 - Not Even Once
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