Tanya P. Texas

Why the government needs to support addiction treatment

95.5 cents of an addiction-related dollar pays for its consequences. However, addiction in the United States is higher than ever and the numbers are still rising rapidly. Fixing the consequences will not solve this problem. We need to start hacking at the root of the addiction problem by treating and preventing addiction.

 Dear Mr. or Mrs. President:

Addiction is a growing problem in the United States. Forty million, or one in eight people ages 12 and over in the United States alone are enslaved by a particular substance, thing or activity. Of those, 23.5 million people are dependent on specifically alcohol and drugs such as cocaine. Even worse, these numbers are evidently rising. About 100 people die from drug overdoses every day- a number that has tripled has tripled in the past twenty years. What is going on? Only 1 in 10 addicts actually get treatment, which often doesn't keep them free from addiction's chains for long. Also, addiction one of the world’s most easily preventable diseases. People, especially teenagers and young adults, need to be educated about the dangers of substance abuse. Thus, the government must give more support to addiction treatment, prevention and awareness.

One reason why the government should support addiction treatment is because it it should be the government’s job to make laws and subsidize groups that make our community safer. If they want to make a real impact on lowering addiction, they need to give more to treat and prevent this condition of the brain. Approximately 40.3 million Americans have the disease of addiction, more than the 27 million who have heart disease, the 25.8 million with diabetes or the 19.4 million with cancer. In 2010, the United States spent $107 billion to treat heart disease, $86.6 billion on cancer treatment, $43.8 billion for diabetes and just $28 billion to treat addiction. There is a huge disparity between the amount of money the US spends to treat addiction in comparison to the other diseases. In addition, while 95.6 cents of every addiction-related dollar pays for its consequences, such as crime, hospitalization and care accidents, only 1-4 cents pay for treatment and prevention. Why are we fixing the consequences of the addiction problem when we can hack at the root of the problem, such as getting treatment for those addicted and preventing more people from becoming this way? Fixing the consequences won’t stop the problem. Over 90% of addicts began using substances before the age of 18 and overdose deaths are rising, with a 2.8 fold increase or more in each type of drug. If the government is supporting addiction treatment and prevention, why isn’t it lowering the number of people suffering and dying from this problem?

Furthermore, addiction also affects the people around them such as members of their family and their community. Those addicted are also more likely to commit crimes in order to pay for their addiction and drugs. “In 2004, 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal inmates said they committed their current offense to obtain money for drugs." The US economy loses billions of dollars every year in increased health care cost, crime and lost productivity-the result of drug abuse. With better treatment to teach addicts better coping skills and to learn how to take care of themselves, addicts are less likely to relapse. Families are also affected by addiction. They are under financial stress from the addict or addicts, who constantly consume large amounts of money to get more drugs to continue their habits. Sometimes, addiction is so severe that the one member cannot work and loses his or her job, relying on a spouse or partner to support and care for the remainder of the family. Drug abuse can also seriously damage children. One or both of their parents can become abusive-physically, emotionally, and sometimes even sexually- from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Government studies show that about 50-80% of child abuse a neglect cases are results from the parent or parents being addicted. Therefore, addiction doesn’t affect just one person, but their families and society.

However, some people say that addicts made a choice, a bad, stupid, senseless one. They say that it was the addict’s own fault that they were like this in the first place - why should people care? It may be true that it is the addicted person’s fault that he or she had ended up this way, but we are all human. We make mistakes and suffer from the consequences. Addicts have many reasons why they started using drugs and alcohol in the first place. Many are just normal people looking for a way to ease the pain and stress of their lives, like you and me, only their pain is so unbearable, they find comfort in doing drugs, alcohol or other addictive behaviors. Others may also want to fit in and be cool by doing drugs. Soon, even after just one dose, victims start to suffer from compulsions and cravings to use the substance more and more due to tolerance. These people find that if they try to stop, they begin to suffer from symptoms of withdrawal, such as depression, severe anxiety, fatigue, sweating, vomiting, hallucinations and of course, more cravings. Eventually the substances used to treat their problem becomes the problem. Once people are addicted, they can’t just will themselves to stop. They are no longer in control of themselves. However, even though they can’t control their cravings, the most hopeless victims of substance abuse disorders, though seemingly doomed, are still treatable. With help from the right treatment and a supportive family, they can be helped.

In conclusion, the government should support addiction treatment and prevention because the government must help make our society safer and left untreated, addiction ruins lives, families, and communities. These people need all the help they can get to recover and help society function again, even if they do not want help. We have to help our fellow humans that are struggling in the cage that addiction becomes to make our world a better place.

Cedar Valley Middle School 8th Grade ELA

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8th grade ELA classes from Cedar Valley High School

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