Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 - The Windows to the Soul

Name: Symphony...
From: La Mirada, California
School: Biola University
Votes: 0 Addiction Awareness Scholarship Campaign 2020 - The Windows to the Soul

The Windows to the Soul

THE
WINDOWS TO THE SOUL

 

Three
years ago, approximately 6% of the American population struggled with
substance addiction, and almost half of them also suffered from a
mental health disorder (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, 2018)
.
Although
it seems like a small number, in reality, that consists of millions
of people going through a similar situation that manifests in
different ways. Whether it may be through a weaker immune system,
internal body disorders, brain damage, or all of these at once, drug
abuse takes a toll on the consumer as their daily life alters from
its normal functionalities. Although significantly affecting the
abuser, misused drugs impact the community in which they belong to as
well, through “loss of productivity and unemployability; impairment
in physical and mental health; reduced quality of life; increased
crime; increased violence; abuse and neglect of children; dependence
on non-familial support systems for survival; and expenses for
treatment” (ASPE, 1999).

The
leading causes of drug abuse of all intersectionalities include
pressure from colleagues to engage in such activity, family
dysfunctionalities, genetic factors, emotional distress, mental
health issues, or even, for developing countries, socio-economic
backgrounds (Pourallahvirdi, Rahmani & et al, 2016). This is a
global issue, therefore, these are already somehow, and sadly, given.
Specifically, in the United States, one of the most influential
factors is mass media. Clint Eastwood’s famous quote, “what you
put into life is what you get out of it”, roots from the wisest man
from 700 BC, who wrote that “out of the heart spring the issues of
life”. This concept is unknown to many, and it covers a wide range
of life occurrences — from losing or getting a job to being free
from or being chained to addiction. Even before the COVID-19 crisis
arose, the current generation has consisted of avid users of social
media and their use of the Internet has become evidently preeminent.
Unbeknownst to millions of them, this has been covertly calibrating
their perceptions, thoughts, and decisions.

With
all the things being inputted into every cell phone user, television
viewer, or media consumer that cannot easily be filtered, the
absorbance of people as such leads them into making decisions that
are not purely of themselves but curated by the content given them.
This can be proven by a phenomenon discussed by psychologists called
the “mere-exposure effect” or, in layman’s terms, the
familiarity effect. This is a technique often used by advertisers to
entice potential customers to avail of their product or service.
However, the same goes for everything else that is repetitively
registered through one’s eyes and ears — whether it may be
through photos, stories, music, shows or films — when people get
accustomed to the same thing multiple times, there is a tendency for
the individual to have a preference toward that item, concept, or
virtually anything. With substance abuse being, if not encouraged,
subtly or blatantly inserted into song lyrics or plotlines as if it
is a necessity or an indispensable part of life, it is no surprise
that this nation is dealing with an addiction crisis.

Take,
for example, a food product that is constantly shown on every YouTube
video you watch, or on a banner on every website you visit. As days
pass, you will either begin to crave for it or have an inclination
towards it upon your next purchase of the same food category. This
also holds true for media content about the use of drugs. Musical
artists subtly insert its use in their songs, actors may use it in a
few scenes, and listeners and viewers might dismiss it upon first
reception; but once taken in multiple times from different sources,
because of this psychological tendency, this builds up as if a
pitcher full of water that is bound to overflow via the decision to
use and abuse drugs, as they will have had a mindset that “everyone
does it anyway” or “even successful people use it”. This is
also evident in cases where insecurities or depression cause users to
walk this path. Social media is an avenue where people showcase their
daily lives, physical appearances, skills, goals, quotes, and any
other possible content. Whether the individual’s issue roots from
familial relationships, body image, or whatnot, the content they see
regularly online somehow gradually add fuel to the fire, and hence,
these people are led to search for outlets such as recreational
drugs.

One
might think, “But what about the advocacies against drug addiction
that are promoted through mass media? Aren’t those helpful?”
Certainly, they evoke an internal prompting in people to think twice
about the subject. However, according to a study on the effects of
the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign towards the youth, the
campaign was “unlikely to have had favorable effects on youths and
may have had delayed unfavorable effects” (Hornik, Jacobsohn &
et al, 2004). Although it was conducted years ago and may bring about
different results now, the scientific reason behind such behavior is
called reactance. It refers to the repulsive response of humans when
our personal autonomy appears to be compromised, which is why ideals
or attitudes forced upon us are not easily accepted, and the only way
to get through to us is through reverse psychology.

Ergo,
this crisis is remediable and the stigma of society towards those
affected must be fixed. Many influential personalities address
societal issues blatantly, advising people to detoxify themselves of
content that is neither encouraging nor “giving off positive vibes”
to them; this process is often called a “social media cleanse”.
It can involve not just distancing oneself from any social media
platform, but also “unfollowing”, “unsubscribing”, and
“unfriending” accounts that — in Marie Kondo’s terms — do
not spark joy. In this respect, individuals who are going through an
addiction crisis, and who seem to realize the immensity of their
media consumption, are encouraged to try doing so. On the other hand,
instead of discriminating against this populace, society can do its
role in helping these people recover from this obstacle that can be
overcome. Once influential creators and artists grasp this concept
and develop empathy towards them, they can learn to produce mass
media content that might foster healing and improvement within their
lives without being too forward. It begins with the awareness that
addiction is not something to take lightly. It is then cultivated
with filtering what we allow ourselves and other people to hear and
see from day-to-day. And it ends with a community where stigmas are
reduced and drug-induced mortalities are lessened.

 


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