Rehab Scholarships — Find Help Paying for Drug and Alcohol Recovery
A rehab scholarship is when the drug or alcohol treatment program waives either a portion of its costs (partial scholarship) or up to 100% of its treatment costs (full scholarship) for applicants in need. Rehab grant funds, on the other hand, are issued directly to addiction treatment and mental health programs, then disseminated among clients. Mandated by Congress, these noncompetitive grant funds make it possible for many programs to offer financial aid. As is the case with most assistance programs, there are stipulations for funding.
Here are some important details about rehab scholarships:
- Rehab facilities set aside a certain amount of income each year to offer scholarships. Financial aid is offered until all the allotted money is used.
- Rehab scholarships are generally needs-based. That means aid is only offered to those who are under- or uninsured and have no other financial means or assets to pay for treatment.
- For additional funding support, rehab scholarships can be combined with private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid if those plans do not cover 100% of treatment costs.
- Not every rehab program offers scholarships. That means you’ll need to do some online research, create a list of rehabs in your area, then call each facility to ask if they offer scholarships.
Finding a rehab scholarship doesn’t need to be difficult. Start by browsing our treatment directory and making a list of programs that suit your needs. Next, call each facility on your list and ask if they offer rehab scholarships.
For rehabs that offer scholarships, ask for details on their application process. Some programs have an intake manager who can take your information and application over the phone, some allow you to apply online, and some require you to apply in person.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Be prepared to explain your personal story and why you need financial assistance to access addiction treatment services.
- Gather and be prepared to share personal and financial documents (i.e., proof of income, checking and savings account balances, monthly expenses, proof of insurance coverage, etc.)
- Understand that competition for rehab scholarships is fierce; that means you may have to submit numerous applications before getting a positive response.
- Individual rehabs are independently run and commonly provide scholarships to cover the cost of one of their programs. The scholarship amount depends on the treatment center and available funds.
- Corporations (both for-profit and nonprofit) that own and operate rehab facilities sometimes offer treatment scholarships to cover the cost of their programs.
- Nonprofit organizations, including religious rehab facilities, often offer scholarships for those admitted to their treatment programs. Providing free or affordable treatment is typically their focus.
Rehab Centers By State
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Spring 2024 College Scholarship Application
$2,250 In College Scholarships To Be Awarded
Are you a full-time college student in the U.S.? Do you have a passion for raising awareness about the dangers associated with substance abuse and addiction?
If you answered “yes” to both questions, you’ll want to enter the Addictions.com Scholarship Contest. Three scholarships will be awarded to qualified college students who write the winning essays (for first, second, and third places).
By providing financial assistance to help pay for books, tuition, or daily expenses, we hope to encourage more students to get involved and become advocates who will raise awareness about the risks and dangers of addiction.
How To Enter
- Review Eligibility: Before entering the contest, review the Terms/Conditions requirements and the rules and regulations below to make sure you qualify.
- Complete Application: Complete the contest application form below providing all required information.
- Submit: Once your essay is written, save as a Word Doc or PDF and submit with your scholarship contest application.
Essay Topic And Guidelines
Essay must be submitted with the application, which should include the author’s name, address, phone number, email address, college (including the date of graduation), and student ID number.
- All entries must be typed, double-spaced, and saved as a Word Doc or PDF.
- Do not add pictures or graphics
- Essays that do not meet the word count requirement will be eliminated. (The essay title or added references / footnotes do not contribute to the total word count.)
- A contestant’s teacher, counselor, or parent may check the essay for punctuation, grammar, and/or spelling, but the essay MUST BE the original work of the student making the submission.
- Contestants will be judged based solely on their essay.
USING YOUR OWN WORDS, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION IN 500-700 WORDS:
- People commonly experience addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. How can substance abuse negatively impact someone’s mental health (and/or vice versa)?
Rules And Regulations
- Essay must be the original work of the contestant. Plagiarism will automatically disqualify your entry.
- Contest awards and decisions are final unless an entrant is disqualified.
- Essay submissions that do not meet the requirements (listed above) or sent after the application deadline will not be considered.
- Essay award winners grant Addictions.com the right to use their essay content in connection with this contest, marketing efforts, and publication of the essay, as well as the right to use the winners’ names and/or identifying information to promote the contest.
- Addictions.com will read and judge each eligible essay submitted on time; essays submitted after the deadline will not be accepted or read.
- Contest prizes (scholarship award monies) can be revoked after awards are given if entrants are discovered to be ineligible or found to have broken contest rules.
- Addictions.com reserves the right to change the submission deadline to an earlier deadline if application submissions greatly exceed the number projected. Prospective applicants should enter as early as possible.
- Should Addictions.com have to change any contest rules, we will notify participants via email. If participants are dissatisfied with changes, they may retract their submission.
- All federal, state, and local charges or taxes on prizes must be paid by award winners.
- Essay submissions for this contest become property of Addictions.com to be used and reproduced.
ADDICTIONS.COM ESSAY SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION FORM
Please complete the application form, attach your entry essay in Word doc or PDF format, and submit.
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Spring 2024 College Scholarship Winners
(Click to view essay)
How to eat an elephant: A lesson in learning to love despite overwhelming anger
My brother’s death built and broke me all at once. It broke me like a bone breaks. It first shattered me, because a 15 year-old shouldn’t lose her 29 year-old brother to a drug overdose. But it then healed me like a bone heals, too. I could never have grown back the same, but I grew back stronger. This is a story about how my brother’s death taught me something about what it means to fight for love.
My brother Jordan battled with drug addiction his whole adult life. He was 14 years older than me. So his adult life– the one riddled with a vicious and cyclical overdose-to-rehab-to-relapse habit comprised the entirety of my lucid years as his little sister. I didn’t get the movie marathon, matching Halloween costumes, Christmas morning excitement, Sunday night family dinner kind of childhood with him. I was too young to be exposed to much of his habit, but I wasn’t too young to notice the havoc it wrought on our mother. By the time I was old enough to determine a relationship with him for myself, I held a hatred in my heart for him. I wouldn’t forgive him for what he was doing to our family and to himself. I had a shell of him to enjoy and a shell of him to mourn.
When we heard the complicated and challenging news of his overdose, I froze. I was standing in the kitchen– eyes fixed, ears ringing a deafening wave of tinnitus, stomach sick, all color evacuated from my face. All I could think was, “I missed it. I missed it. I missed it.” I missed out on the chance at a brother. And I missed out on the chance to forgive him. But how could I forgive his audacious, destructive, harmful life? The answer is the same as the one to a riddle I remember from my childhood: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
My brother’s death built resentment in me for a while, and it broke my spirit for a while, too. But I started a journey of reflection and discovering what it means to forgive– one I am still very much on. So far, I’ve learned that forgiveness isn’t meant to be fickle– it’s meant to be absolute. I learned that death can break down a person’s spirit, but it can also break attachments to fear and anger. It can build resilience and fortitude of character. I have determined that this will be my brother’s legacy – that those he left behind will have learned that it is not too late to love him, learn from him, and be a family to him. It is with this renewed outlook that I vigorously pursue my education in Nursing and Counseling – to carry the mantle that he left for me.
Florida State University
Student ID: 201005604
(Click to view essay)
Navigating the Depths of Tobacco Addiction in Rural India
As we step into the sunny dusty paths of rural villages in India, the stark reality of tobacco addiction hits you in every breath. I am a traditional medicine pediatrician who served in the rural villages of India, where the struggle against addiction is interwoven within everyday life. In this essay, I share my personal experiences and encounters with people of all ages, shedding light on the grip of tobacco addiction and its association with mental health in the remote communities of rural India.
The first time I encountered the depth of the tobacco epidemic was when I visited a nonprofit ashram that treats oral cancer in a small village in west Gujarat, India. Here I witnessed people of all age groups, as young as 4 year olds who were brought in for counselling to 80 and 90 year olds awaiting death owing to oral cancer.
On my many visits to these villages for medical camps and health awareness campaigns, I have seen young boys chewing tobacco and playing with makeshift tobacco sticks crafted from discarded butts. These innocent eyes’ held no clue of the struggles they would face later. Their addiction journey commenced at an age when most children are still mastering the alphabet. These children are robbed of a healthy childhood and face an uphill battle not only against the physical addiction but also the psychological toll of being trapped by a habit that steals their innocence. In my regular visits at their child health care center, I met a 16-year-old, eldest sister to three siblings with dreams as vast as the open sky. She remembers chewing tobacco for most of her childhood. I looked at her and asked her in a very friendly manner how she could get rid of this habit. With a red-stained, toothy grin, she replied that she couldn’t do it and that her problems were bigger than her tobacco use. Her spirit was eclipsed by the shadows of addiction and unveiled the impact of substance abuse on mental health, painting a picture of despair. Tobacco had woven into the fabric of her identity, worsening her adolescent struggles. The toxic relationship between substance abuse and mental health manifested in her anxiety, depression, and erosion of self-esteem.
Adults and older people suffered the same or even worse. Most of the oral cancer patients in the cancer center were between the ages of 50 and 70. Some of them were operated on to remove the mass, which left hollow cheeks with tubes inserted for food intake, and some had seriously metastasized with no hope of recovery. I have encountered ever so many adults rooted in the throes of tobacco dependency. The crushing weight of financial burden coupled with societal expectations are the breeding grounds for their anxiety and depression. Tobacco, initially a crutch for these people, transforms into a malevolent companion, exacerbating their mental health struggles. The elderly suffer in silence with tobacco as their getaway from their solitude and depression.
In my journey through these rural landscapes, the imperative to address the issues of substance abuse and mental health became glaringly necessary. The healing process demanded a multifaceted approach. We started with community awareness programs; through interactive sessions and engaging campaigns; we aimed to break the cycle of ignorance that often fueled addiction. Secondly, counselling through a holistic approach acknowledged the emotional scars that often lingered long. The third of our strategy involved collaboration with local leaders and influencers. By leveraging their influence within the community, we sought to create a supportive environment that encouraged individuals to seek help at our hospital and rural centers.
As I reflect on my experiences working with diverse age groups, the vicious cycle between substance abuse and mental health emerged as a central theme. My journey there was both heart-wrenching and inspiring. Witnessing the transformative power of community-driven interventions has solidified my belief in the resilience of the human spirit. Through empathy, education, and collaboration, we can hope to break the chains that bind individuals to addiction, thus paving a path towards healing and renewal.
University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston
Student ID: 2092310
(Click to view essay)
A Message for Tyler
In 2021, I got a job working at a bike shop in central Ohio.
I learned a lot at the shop; mostly about bikes, but also about myself and my greater community. Growing up in a small town, I rarely got a taste of life outside of my little ecosystem; and this job helped educate me on, well, the lives of others.
About six months into working there, I got a new coworker. His name was Tyler1. He was hired as a friend of the head service tech, who vouched for him and landed him the interview. Tyler was sociable, funny, and artistic. He told us stories about his time in high school (he was at the time a high school graduate, about two years older than myself), showed us his home-made skate videos on his phone, and did his best to learn the ins and outs of bicycles. He was a good salesman, friend, and coworker.
One afternoon, Tyler came in and shared something with us: that day, he was two weeks clean of drugs. He sheepishly explained that while he was still using nicotine, he had managed to stop using hard drugs and was planning on eventually weaning off of the vapes as well. I congratulated him on the two weeks. At the end of that shift, he and I rode recumbent bikes around the shop together. From that day onwards, we became closer; he gave me advice, telling me stories on the time he totaled his car (don’t drink and drive), and how he had got into the wrong crowds when it came to drugs. It was deeply personal, and I felt proud of him for working on overcoming his addiction. It wasn’t all sunny, though. There were shifts where he had shared how hard sobriety was- the shifts where he was more quiet, and jumpy. The times he told me he had to reset his sobriety streak. His addiction had been disastrous for his mental health- it riddled him with insecurity, toxic relationships, and skewed perceptions of others. Eventually, Tyler stopped showing up to work. He had gone silent- he wouldn’t pick up the phone for anybody, he wasn’t answering emails or texts, and it had been weeks since he had come in for his shift. They eventually took him off the schedule.
I never saw Tyler again. Some time later, a group of middle school-aged boys came into the shop, asking to see Tyler. When I told them he doesn’t work here anymore, their faces fell. They too hadn’t seen him in months. They told me he had been anxious and “weird” at the skatepark in the weeks before his disappearance. This is what addiction does to someone’s mental health: isolates them from friends, turns them anxious and depressed, and convinces them to love the drug.
Ohio has the 5th most overdose-related deaths in the nation2. A boy who I went to high school with died of fentanyl as a sophomore in college: his family said that his depression worsened before it happened. My youngest sister, adopted from foster care, will have life long mental health issues due to prenatal drug exposure; a second hand-version of her biological mother’s addiction. As someone with foster siblings, I’ve seen the effects of addiction firsthand: children taken from families, left feeling empty, unloved, and abandoned. In some Ohio counties, 80% of foster children are put in the system due to opioid abuse and addiction3.
The foster care system is undeniably correlated with the addiction and mental health crises. Because of this correlation, addiction not only worsens the mental health of the user, but also of the user’s immediate family and children. In this way, addiction is a contagious disease in terms of mental health; and needs to be treated as such.
1: This name has been changed out of respect for his privacy.
2: “Drug Poisoning Mortality in the United States.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mortality/drug_poisoning.htm. Accessed 29 Dec. 2023.
3: “Opioid Crisis Causing Ohio Foster Care Numbers to Rise.” Ohio Addiction Resource Center, https://www.ohioarc.com/opioid-crisis-causing-ohio-foster-care-numbers-to-rise/. Accessed 29 Dec. 2023.
Rochester Institute of Technology
Student ID: gj8212, 387008608
Fall 2023 College Scholarship Winners
(Click to view essay)
“I’m sorry, it’s not that we don’t want you working here, it’s that hiring you would create an image we don’t want at our business, you know, with your dad and all.” My father? My father the addict? My father the drug dealer? My father the criminal? What about me? The way things work with addiction, it doesn’t matter who has the addiction, the entire community that surrounds them is affected.
The addict is affected by the desire for their next fix, the inability to function without their drug of choice. Their liver and kidneys are affected by the poison they are consuming. Their mind altered. Their inability to cope with reality without the drug drives them to insanity. They want it. They need it. They cannot live without it.
The spouse of the addict tries their best to hold things together. They open secret bank accounts to ensure bills can be paid. Wearing the same jeans for days upon days because it’s the only pair they own. They put the children to bed early so they won’t hear the cries of desperation. Pease get help. Please stay clean. Please think about someone besides yourself.
The children hide their piggy banks each time they leave the house. They wear clothes from goodwill because all the extra money is gone. Dinner is pancakes for the third time this week. Their parents don’t know they hear them argue at night. Their friends don’t know why they suddenly seem so quiet. Their teachers don’t know why they are falling asleep in class.
The parents in the neighborhood see the headlines. That poor family, they send a casserole. They usher their children not to talk to those kids, you never know what they might inherit from their parents. They call the children home earlier and watch them more closely. They send them to school hesitantly, what if the drugs are there too?
The librarian wonders why they haven’t seen that child around lately. It’s unlike them not to be around. Late fees stay unpaid. Books unread. Everyone that stares, everyone that whispers, everyone that laughs. They’re all affected.
I was twelve years old the day I watched my father buy pills for the first time. We were running t of the truck meeting his friend there. I saw him count the money, money he probably stole from my piggy bank. I saw the Ziplock bag, while pills were inside. He got back in the truck and smiled at me.
When I was thirteen, he forgot to pick me up at school. I lied to my teacher and said I forgot I was supposed to walk home. I walked home in the rain. Raindrops and tears look a lot alike to anyone passing by.
At fourteen my dad decided to get clean. He quit everything cold turkey. He paced for hours, days, weeks. The week after I finished eighth grade he was admitted to the hospital. His body was shutting down. They didn’t know if he would make it. That August, we brought him home.
I had just started high school when he relapsed. I was a sophomore when I was refused a job because my father had been arrested for selling to an undercover police officer. I was a junior when I cut him out of my life. When I started college, he had been clean for several years and I welcomed him back into my life. Today I sit here conflicted, he’s a grandfather, I think he’s using again. I could cut him out again, but the problem is I love him as much as he loves “her.”
(Click to view essay)
The Drug Epidemic, The Drug Crisis or Drug Abuse are all phrases that some might use to describe the use of illegal substances. Others might describe it as: normal, just another day on the reservation, or this is what’s expected of “those” people. I grew up on both the Nez Perce Reservation and Coeur D’Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho and am an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation. To grow up Native means to grow up grieving. Grieving the loss of our land, water, language and identity. Many people in Indian Country turned to drugs to cope. Seeing drug and alcohol abuse on the reservation is a given and a sad reality for my people. They are stuck in this loophole of generational trauma that cannot be broken until a bloodline is lost, well that is at least how it feels. Many people from my community have lost their lives to addiction even if they are not dead. Addiction sucks the life out of a person. It will take and take until there is nothing left to take but their life.
A study from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that American Indian and Alaskan Natives have the highest percentage of all races to use illicit drugs, marijuana and have a substance use disorder (2021). American Indian and Alaskan Natives are the second highest demographic to misuse opioids and to struggle with mental health issues. Reading these statistics was not surprising because it is my community and I’s truth. There are the homeless that struggle with alcoholism that sit in front of the store, the drug users that stay at the Highway Motel and the frequent users in the casino bathroom who drop and break a pipe with an unknown substance on it that makes it reek. The actions I just described might sound fake but they are incidents that I have seen first hand. To the naked eye it might seem scary but these people are just people who are struggling with addiction who need help.
Addiction is a direct correlation to mental health. When people use drugs it’s usually a coping mechanism to hinder the feelings they are experiencing or to feel something that they are not. They are getting high or drunk to escape their reality. Drugs and alcohol are used as forms of medication.
My community struggles with addiction like huge cities struggle with pollution. There is so much talent and potential that is wasted because of substance abuse. There are the star athletes who had full ride scholarships to play the sport they love but have thrown it away to attend parties and be in the social scene. It is the grandparents and extended family members who take care of the baby who was born addicted to their parents drug of choice. It was the countless nights that my sister and I were awake tending to my cousin’s hand and feet while he was detoxing. She would rub his arms, an area he would stick the needle in, while I brought him gatorade to keep him hydrated from throwing up. It was the countless, “Are you using again?” The nights I’ve stayed up worrying about waking up to the news of his passing. It is a sad reality that my people are trying to overcome. Needless to say, reservation is a beautiful place but it needs to be seen through a specific lens.
2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Among the American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) Population Aged 12 or Older.” Sahmsa.Gov, 24 May 2023, 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Among the American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) Population Aged 12 or Older. Accessed 12 Jul. 2023.
(Click to view essay)
In a world where we start to see our younger minds reach for illegal substances rather than pencils and notebooks, I think I’ve always known there was a problem. I remember walking into my sophomore year French class and a boy once offered me something I knew nearly nothing about in a little tin can. I remember the friends I made during my junior year of high school were addicted to their vape pens and alcohol. And I especially remember hearing of the aunt that was loved so much by my father and his siblings, passing away from an overdose. I still see a great deal of the students on campus getting ahold of things that are illegal in some countries, and finding themselves unable to do schoolwork and honestly, even function normally.
Unfortunately, as a native to Austin and San Antonio, I’ve always seen people talking to themselves or hurting themselves in the streets. I think a more significant and fundamental question we should ask ourselves is “How will we end this?”. Although, I know that addiction is such a complex and widespread problem, I definitely feel like we, as a society should be doing more to help those that suffer from addiction. I definitely believe that mental health and addiction are connected. I believe that individuals with mental health disorders are at a higher risk of developing substance abuse or addiction issues. People use drugs to help them cope with emotional distress and to provide their minds with relief, which then starts the cycle of dependency and addiction.
My family has suffered the impact of addiction, as I had mentioned earlier, my aunt, my father’s sister passed away from an overdose. I was never able to meet her, hear her voice, hear her stories, ask her questions, or hear her laugh, because of her battle with addiction. Also, this is just one story, it’s bizarre to realize that so many others have had similar experiences with their loved ones and battling addiction. Unfortunately, we also see addiction in many celebrities as well, such as Whitney Houston, Prince, Mac Miller, and Heath Ledger, just to name a few. I think many people believe spread ignorance and believe that addiction isn’t a “rich people problem”, but addiction is everywhere, and spreads through the veins of our cities, our people.
An American T.V. drama called “Euphoria” portrays addiction and substance abuse in a realistic and gritty manner. It doesn’t shy away from showing the devastating consequences of drug use and the toll it takes on the characters’ lives. By presenting these issues in an unfiltered way, the show raises awareness about the harsh realities of addiction. The show provides a diverse representation of different types of addiction and substance abuse, including opioids, alcohol, and party drugs. By exploring various perspectives, “Euphoria” sheds light on the many facets of addiction and the ways it can manifest in people’s lives. The show sparked numerous well-needed discussions and debates about addiction, mental health, and the challenges faced by young people today. It encouraged viewers to talk openly about these issues and seek help if needed. Overall, I believe that shows like this, present the reality of addiction and how it can affect someone’s life, and can really allow viewers to open their eyes and spread light to a conversation that is long overdue on being talked about.
Spring 2023 College Scholarship Winners
(Click to view essay)
Children Are Our Future.. Addicts
I’m looking at all the faces of these third graders, and I’m counting. How many of these children will become addicts? As a teacher, I am aware that these children lead lives outside of the safety of my classroom. Many of them go home to parents who struggle with substance abuse or addiction. I know the children who do have addicted parents are eight times more likely to develop an addiction.
Society struggles with the idea that substance abuse and addiction are all around them today. It does not discriminate; it’s everywhere. Unfortunately, it is also in the classrooms. Children are coming to school to escape their homes. Siblings are taking on the role of one or both parents at very young ages. Students are bragging about trying different substances because they think it is socially acceptable and even “cool”. But many fail to notice another effect that substance abuse and addiction have on our future: the way it impacts our children.
I am looking at a child who has his head down on his desk, it’s like that most mornings. I set a water and granola bar on his desk, as I do every morning, to ensure he’s getting some food. I don’t pester him to do his work, I don’t ask what is wrong, and I don’t dare call home to speak with mom or dad. I know he may have had to use Narcan on his parents last night. I also know that he may have had to give his parents the little bit of change he had to pay for his lunch today just so they could get a fix. I take note that he doesn’t have his coat on because I saw his younger sibling bundled up in it this morning as they walked into the building. At such a young age, he is sacrificing so much.
I am very fortunate to have had a sibling that, even after 14 years of addiction, was able to choose sobriety. At one time, I was awake at all hours of the night looking up treatment programs that I could send him to. I called so many numbers trying to find a program that could help him.
In the end, I found myself staying hush hush about it because I didn’t want others to know that my brother had fallen victim to addiction. But why? Why couldn’t I find a treatment program – why were all the numbers just dead ends? Why didn’t I reach out to people in my community to help point me in the right direction? Simply put; addiction is frowned upon, misunderstood, and swept under the rug.
We talk about teen pregnancy, suicide, rape, all of these incredibly hard scenarios…but not substance abuse or addiction. D.A.R.E has become a cool screen print t-shirt that kids wear, not a program that is taken seriously. The real, raw stories are what impact children and teens. They need to hear the stories about parents who watched as their children were overtaken by substance abuse and addiction and the adults who were once innocent kids watching their own parents struggle with substance abuse. Then they need to hear from the people who struggled with addiction and chose sobriety.
Back in my classroom, I see the weight of the world on this young boy’s shoulders, and I wish I could make things better. I would love to send him to a specified social worker who helps children that are exposed to substance abuse and addiction. I can imagine him entering a room stocked with necessities that are pre-bagged for him to grab. He would tell the social worker his sizes for a new coat, and one for his sibling. This social worker would ask if he wants to take couple doses of Narcan home with him, just in case. And a list of numbers and addresses would be readily available for children to take home to their parents, in hopes that they might choose to use those valuable resources to seek help. The social worker would take time to talk (and listen) to this young boy, then walk him through a few exercises that can reduce his already elevated risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol.
When this student is leaving at the end of the day, I remind him that he can contact me at any time for anything. He nods, and I tell him I will see him tomorrow. As he closes my classroom door behind him, I pray that I do see him tomorrow.
(Click to view essay)
Substance abuse and addiction is nothing new to me. While growing up in a small suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, I was raised by two addicts. One of them was in recovery, the other one still active in their substance abuse. I’ve seen what addiction can do to an individual, families, even communities. Substance abuse is something that is glamorized now due to the attention it gets from social media, films, music videos, and more. The recent HBO show, Euphoria, became a trend on tiktok. Young adults glamorized the colors, party scene, and euphoria that the show portrayed addiction as. While the show was trying to shed light on what addiction can do to families, the kids watching the show associated the drug abuse with music, a feeling of forgetting and being numb, beautifying eye makeup and colorful lighting. That isn’t what addiction is. It isn’t colorful, it isn’t revolutionary music playing in the background, and it isn’t wearing pink eyeshadow. Addiction is painful, lonely, and dark.
Addiction has taken over vase populations in our society. It’s putting children on the streets, taking lives away from their loved ones, and increasing crime in neighborhoods no one thought there would be any. But addiction has a negative connotation surrounding it. When a person says they are a recovering addict, many think that means they are a bad person. Recovering addict = criminal, murderer, low life, junky. Addiction is a disease, an incurable one. Just because someone is no longer an active user does not mean they are no longer an addict.
In AA, alcoholics anonymous, everyone introduces themselves as an alcoholic. Whether they have been sober thirty days or thirty years, they are still an alcoholic.
What we can do to reduce the negative effects of addiction is to stop treating it like self destruction and start treating it as the disease it is. A lot of addicts are afraid to speak up about their struggles in the fear of being judged, locked away, and disowned. Would you disown your child if they had cancer? Another way to help those struggling with addiction is to make mental health and illness resources more available and affordable. In many cases, there is a direct correlation between mental illness and addiction. There needs to be more education in public schools, outreach programs, and advocacy for those in need. When it comes to teens and young adults, many don’t want to ask their parents for help in fear of disappointment and getting in trouble, or many don’t know how their parents would react. Having your teen come to you saying they think they have a problem isn’t easy. I saw how hard it was for my own parents, but if they are educated on what steps to take next and how to respond, it could mean the difference. Luckily, when my younger brother came to my dad about his own addiction, my dad knew exactly what to do since he is a recovering addict himself, but not all parents have the experience my own father does. Schools should have some kind of program for parents, required, to teach them how to deal when your teen comes to you asking for help. This program could touch on a multitude of things; addiction, mental health, LGBTQ+, etc.
There are stigmas surrounding addiction, the younger generations glamorize it, and older generations ignore and despise it. But if programs and educational systems can teach those that addiction is a disease, it isn’t something to be ashamed of, and show people the correct steps to recovery, substance abuse can become preventable, and lives can be saved.
(Click to view essay)
In order to understand the effects of drugs on society we first must look at the effects of drugs in people. The first thing that needs to be addressed is that drug use is an addiction, it is not simply a weakness but rather a disease that requires treatment like any other disease. One of the awful things about drug addiction is that not only does it affect the addicted it also affects the community around you.
Drugs have a very powerful effect on the brain, the root of this addiction is because of how addiction affects how the brains ability to to send an receive signals by its vast system of neurons and neurotransmitters. Different drugs will have different effects pf the brain, drugs such as marijuana and heroin both of which have an opiate effect will act like a neurotransmitter which neurons will send electrical signals to conduct messages but because these are drugs and not real neurotransmitters these signals are abnormal and disrupt the brain’s chemistry.
Drugs are so additive and damaging because they can affect all parts of the brain which means not only do drugs affect the brain’s functions but also the bodies normal everyday function. Cannabis can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, cocaine can lead to seizures and brain hemorrhages, and ecstasy can causes anxiety, paranoia, and dehydration, and there are many other effects. Because drugs can affect everything from heart and breathing rates it makes it very hard for people to quit. The problem with this is that the more often the drug is used the greater the tolerance they will build. This never ending toxic cycle might cause people to start taking larger doses and this process can quickly snowball into overdoses.
Now that we understand how drugs affect us we can now discuss how drug abuse affects our families and societies. Drug addiction completely overtakes the lives and minds of those affected and leaves almost no room for the family, friends, and loved ones present in their lives. Since drugs can affect anyone at any age and of any sex this means that drugs can affect fathers, mothers, leaders, coworkers, friends, schoolmates, etc. Keeping in mind that drugs could affect key figures in many institutions such as families, schools, and our workplaces can help us understand why when the afflicted disappear for long periods of time, lie to cover up their drug use, use their current relationships to access drugs, and even perhaps use their partners to enable their addiction; this may indeed hurt many relationships. It is quite common that relationships severed by drug addiction will require treatment and therapy to be repaired.
As awful the effects are in personal relations the affects of drug abuse is also detrimental to society. In the United States alone it cost $740 billion in health care, prevention, and drug related crimes. Communities affected by a larger number of drug related crimes will have to spend more more on funding more police to combat this. Similarly in communities that have obtained a negative reputation for drug related crimes, they may experience a loss of property values which will cause people to move away or experience low quality living. Drug abuse has also been known to have a generational affect, children who have been abused or neglected because of drugs have a higher chance of drug use in the future.
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Today’s society, especially the younger generations, have normalized many forms of substance abuse more and more over the years. Whether it be encouraged by mental health, peer pressure, or celebrity influence, there are many reasons substance abuse is an increasing problem in our society today.
My experience with substance abuse started in high school. Its easy to see the affects technology has had on the younger generations. Growing up always having a screen in front of your face and being overstimulated makes it harder to develop social skills. This causes kids to have more anxiety when it comes to attending any social event, even school. Another issue younger generations face is cyber bullying and social media driven insecurities. These struggles contribute to why many of my classmates had mental health issues they dealt with by using drugs.
As mentioned above, substance abuse was a regular occurrence throughout my public-school career. If you didn’t smoke, drink or pop pills you were looked at as a “goody goody”. Kids my age are so depressed at times they just want to be numb, and that’s where substance abuse comes in. There were countless drug dealers that went to my school who sold anything from marijuana to Xanax. Those were the most common drugs of choice for my classmates. It got so bad that they brought in a K9 unit to walk around my school and at least one of those dealers walked out in handcuffs.
The encouragement of substance abuse is all around us. The most popular type of music was rap and hip hop at my old high school. When listening to many of these songs you hear a lot about doing drugs. I realized how big of a problem it was when my favorite artist suddenly overdosed. He used the name “Juice WRLD” and he had just turned 21. This really hit me when I realized he was the same age as my older brother. This was somebody’s brother, son, boyfriend, and friend, and it was in front of our face the entire time. Many of his songs mentioned his struggle with substance abuse multiple times. He even went as far as releasing an album titled “The WRLD on drugs”. Abusing these drugs has been normalized by many celebrities, so why isn’t talking about recovery normalized and accepted the same way?
My personal experience with addiction comes from a relative of mine. My great aunt’s daughter was an addict before I was born and throughout most of my childhood. She lived in a different state, and I didn’t see her often enough to know that anything was happening with her until I was older. I heard about her decision to get clean around two years ago and it astounded me how much backlash she got from my great aunt and uncle for it. They’re the type of people who would NEVER talk about a subject so taboo. They shamed her and wouldn’t even go to her ceremony to get her 1-year chip for sobriety. My mom decided to fly out to support her at the ceremony. The next summer, we drove down to visit her for a week and that was the first time I ever really got to know her. She is truly one of the most amazing and caring people I’ve ever met. It made me so sad to see her family treat her badly because of past mistakes.
What We Can Do
I feel like the most we can do in society to help with the problem of addiction is to talk about it. I feel like more people would decide to get clean if they knew it wasn’t such a taboo subject. We can normalize the recovery process the same way doing drugs is normalized in our society. Another thing we can do is make recovery resources more accessible and less shameful to addicts of all ages. Many rehab or mental health resources are expensive to people who don’t have health insurance. We need to do better to prevent this problem from worsening for the future generations!
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Substance abuse and addiction have been affecting our society for a long time, and they continue to cause harm to individuals and communities alike. Substance abuse refers to the excessive use of drugs or alcohol, while addiction is the inability to stop using despite the harmful consequences. These issues can have severe impacts on a person’s health, relationships, and livelihood, and they also take a toll on society as a whole.
One of the most significant effects of substance abuse and addiction is the physical harm it causes. People who struggle with addiction often suffer from serious health problems, such as heart disease, liver damage, and even death from overdose. This can put a significant burden on our healthcare system and lead to high medical expenses for individuals and society as a whole.
In addition to the physical harm, addiction also has significant social and economic impacts. People who struggle with addiction may lose their jobs, become homeless, and break apart relationships with friends and family. This can result in a vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment, and increased substance abuse, making it harder for them to overcome their addiction. The opioid crisis in the United States has been especially devastating, with thousands of people dying every year from opioid overdoses.
To reduce the negative effects of addiction and help people access treatment resources, we need to change the way we view addiction. Addiction is a chronic illness, not a choice, and it should be treated as such. Here are some steps we can take to make a difference:
Increase access to treatment – People who struggle with addiction need access to effective treatment options, such as counseling, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment. By providing a range of resources, individuals can choose what works best for them and start on the path to recovery.
Invest in prevention – Preventing addiction before it starts is crucial. By investing in programs that educate people about the dangers of substance abuse and provide support to those at risk, we can help prevent addiction and reduce its impact on society.
Reduce the stigma – Unfortunately, people who struggle with addiction are often judged and seen as weak. This stigma can prevent people from seeking help, and it only serves to increase the harm caused by addiction. By reducing the stigma and treating addiction as the chronic illness that it is, people will feel more comfortable seeking help and won’t feel ashamed.
Address root causes – Substance abuse and addiction often have root causes, such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to healthcare. Addressing these root causes can help prevent addiction and support those struggling with it. This can be done through programs that improve access to education, job training, and mental health services.
In conclusion, substance abuse and addiction are significant problems that affect individuals and society as a whole. But by taking a public health approach, we can make a real difference. By increasing access to treatment, investing in prevention, reducing the stigma, and addressing the root causes of addiction, we can help individuals overcome their struggles and create a brighter future for everyone.