Addiction Awareness Essay 2017 3rd Place Winner – Delanie P.

Essay 1 (979/1,200)
The ways in which drug and/or alcohol addiction affects society today.

According to a recent study, nearly 24 million people in the United States abuse drugs and almost 18 million people abuse alcohol. With those statistics in mind, a reported 22,114 people have lost their lives in 2012 alone from prescription drug overdoses. Today in the United States, using drugs and alcohol has become more and more common, being used in both responsible and irresponsible manners. At any given time, approximately 10 percent of the population is abusing drugs and alcohol, with multitudes of families, friends, neighbors, employers, and coworkers being directly affected. However, many fail to realize the true effects abusing drugs and alcohol has on society, which Drug Rehab addressed in a more recent article, stating the costs associated with drug and alcohol use totals nearly $600 billion in lost revenue, health care, legal fees, and damages each year. Drug abuse is associated with higher rates of foster care child placements, child abuse, college sexual assaults, prison sentences, and lost productivity coupled with increased work-related injuries. Drug and alcohol addiction not only negatively affects the drinker themselves, their loved ones and family members, but also society at large.

To start out with, the relationship between child abuse and the use or abuse of alcohol tend to go hand in hand as the consumption of both alcohol and drugs becomes more common in today’s society. Not only is parental alcohol abuse typically associated with the physical or sexual abuse of children, the experience of being abused as a child may increase a person’s risk for alcohol-related problems as an adult. Several factors most likely contribute to or influence this relationship, including coping skills, antisocial behavior, and a range of psychological problems. When a child is a victim of abuse of any kind, child services removes that child immediately placing them in foster home to keep them safe. This unfortunate reality happens more so than most come to acknowledge, but most definitely affects the entirety of society as children across the nation experience abuse on many different levels. In addition, alcohol abuse is also linked to many social problems such as sexual assaults that occur under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Especially in college towns, both men and women experience rape, which in half the cases, is connected with the intake and misuse of alcohol. Beliefs about alcohol’s effects on sexual and aggressive behavior, stereotypes about drinking women, and alcohol’s effects on cognitive and motor skills contributes to alcohol-involved sexual assaults, which inevitably affects the entire society as 321,500 victims of rape and sexual assault happen each year in the United States alone. In today’s society, those of all ages are taught to not trust all those who pass them by, and especially women in today’s world, can easily be taken advantage of. In addition to society’s increase in alcohol related assaults, driving accidents have also been at an all time high, resulting in bystanders being in danger and in some instances, losing their lives. In my own family, my father has received a handful of DUI’s since he was a teenager, and according to the Albany Police Department in 2015, he endangered the innocent lives of all those around him. According to the Promises Treatment Center in 2014, there were precisely 9,967 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities, which accounted for 31 percent of all driving fatalities. When under the influence, the brain’s prefrontal cortex is negatively affected, resulting in poor judgement and faulty reasoning. When in that state of mind, it is known those under the influence proceed to do things they would not normally do. Drug-related incarcerations make up more than 50 percent of federal prison populations and nearly 20 percent of state prison populations. When the actions of those who abuse drugs and alcohol finally catches up with them, a large portion of them face jail time, as did my father. When an individual is arrested and put in jail, the hope is that their time off the streets will change their way of living life, but with that, the loss of their jobs are often at risk. Along with jail time, other consequences are handed out, with an easy example being a suspension of a driver’s license or the installation of breathalyzers. In addition of the drinker’s life being altered in more ways than one, alcohol has also inflicted a huge financial toll on our nation, with the cost of excessive alcohol use reaching $249 billion in 2010, or about $2.05 per drink. As mentioned before, this comes with a huge loss in workplace productivity along with other healthcare expenses for treating problems caused by excessive drinking, law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses, along with motor vehicle crashes related to excessive alcohol use. All together, it is apparent that alcohol and drug addiction not only affects the abuser and their loved ones, but the innocent lives of those around them and our nation’s pocketbook.

Along with nationwide expenses solely due to individual’s addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, I have a firm stance that the abuser’s actions puts the entire society at ease. Both drugs and alcohol have been misused to the point where innocent lives of infants, children, men, and women have been lost. We as a society continue to inform generation after generation about the dangers associated with drug and alcohol abuse, but fail to acknowledge the fear of day to day life that comes in living in a world that is far from being substance free. I have had friends whose family members drove to the grocery store on a typical Saturday morning and never returned simply due to a drunk driver deciding to put the lives of hundreds into their dysfunctioning mind. As drug and alcohol abuse becomes more common as years go on, it’s a frightening reality that affects the daily living of each member of society.

Essay 2 (1,008/1,200)
What can we do to reduce these effects, help people, and lessen the burden of alcoholism on society?

Drug abuse is a real, scary thing that those of all ages in the United States face today, especially those who are underage. I think the most effective solution to this problem is to make generations now and in the future aware of the biological, environmental, and physical risk factors that drug and alcohol abuse is accompanied with. Although a large portion of the nation is aware of the basic dangers that comes along with the intake of drugs and alcohol, one act leads to another in this peer pressure filled world, which only continues to be increasingly dangerous. Addictions to both drugs and alcohol have become more and more common in society, and luckily, there is a large range of actions to take that can provide a sense of hope that today’s cycle of addiction finally comes to an end.

When individuals become aware of the risks that can alter their lives in seconds, they are more likely to overcome them. It is known that if children are in environments where their parents consume alcohol, they are twice as likely to indulge in alcohol themselves, making it important that we, as the upcoming generation, remain substance free to encourage the next generation to do so as well. Additionally, an important action that can stop the route of addiction is to use anti-alcohol campaigns at a constant rate to be sure everyone realizes how dangerous consumption can be to not only the body of the individual, but also their families and loved ones. Not only would these campaigns and scare tactics prevent young people from using alcohol irresponsibly, but would encourage alcoholics to put effort into quitting. In today’s world, almost each and every person has been associated with a story regarding an injury due to misuse of drugs and/or alcohol. As soon as society stops abusing drugs and alcohol for the “fun of it,” then the nation can escape the realities of behavioral issues, mental illness, and the overall neglect of the abuser’s brain. As the mentioned actions would help both those future and present drug and alcohol addicts, it is a nationwide solve to one problem, but many issues often fall into the hands of certain individuals who choose to encourage the intake of alcohol consumption. Nowadays, underage drinking is becoming more and more prevalent and a large portion are not in fear of getting caught due to the fact that cops are not enforcing the 21 and over law. As a college student, more than enough times have stories come out that cops crashed a party that resulted in them saying to “keep it down,” rather than checking the ID of each and every attendee. Respectable adults need to take charge and stop encouraging underage drinking when they suspect it happening, for when teenagers start consuming alcohol at very early ages, the tendency of them growing up to abuse these beverages is very high. Addictions nowadays are starting early on in life, and it’s the job respectables teenagers and adults to get those engaging in addiction-like activities on the right path before it’s too late.

Underage drinking is a persistent public health problem in the United States, triggering a reliance on depressants to cope with real world problems, and once that connection is made it is hard to go back. Informing and taking responsibility for alcohol and drug intake starts with the parents as they are raising their children into who they become and the interests they take as they grow older. Parents should monitor and supervise their children constantly in order to make sure that their children do not develop the habit of drinking alcoholic beverages at early ages, which increases the odds in turning out to be substance free adults. Parents who suspect that their children have involved themselves with drugs and alcohol should act promptly to prevent this problem from degenerating as well as educating them on the harmful effects addiction has on their health. As mentioned before, being engaged and keeping loved ones on the right place helps decrease the odds they develop an addiction based lifestyle.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addict and those around them. Another way that would help reduce these effects is placing high taxes on all alcoholic beverages. The higher the taxes are on alcoholic beverages, the more discouraging it becomes for people to buy these drinks and abuse them. Since it would be more difficult for people to afford the new price of commodity, society would hopefully see a decrease in alcohol consumption and an overall decrease of abuse. This concept along with other factors such as informing generations along with proper parenting would hopefully encourage those of all ages to remain substance free or become a person no longer involved with drugs and/or alcohol.

Drug and alcohol abuse happens across the nation for reasons we cannot count, whether it be a night out on the town or coping mechanism after a bad break up. Although drug and alcohol use can be used in moderate amounts and for self-healing reasons, many take advantage of their effects and misuse them time after time. Those who abuse drugs and alcohol are not fully aware of the consequences until they are physically in a situation where they have been seriously injured, or even worse, they have injured someone else. Society has progressed to a point where it is hard to change the minds of many who are already too far deep in their cycle of addiction, but it is still worth it to try everything possible to help those too far gone but most importantly, help those people who have not yet been exposed to true addiction. The efforts should be never ending to stop our nation’s cycle of addiction in order to ensure health in each and every individual when it comes to addiction based illness but also because innocent lives of many are on the line.

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