Stigmas Around Addiction
12/31/18: Addiction \ Drug Addiction
When you think of someone addicted to heroin, what do you imagine? Probably someone out on the street who has nothing left to lose. What about someone addicted to alcohol? Again, maybe someone out on the street with no place to call their own. However, this isn’t always the case. Addiction can affect pretty much anyone. That normal looking person sitting across from you at the coffee shop may have a serious cocaine addiction. That person who looks like they’re just having a casual drink with friends is actually a serious alcoholic.
Addiction has no bias, it can affect anyone, but there are still huge stigmas and stereotypes that surround the world of addiction. When people think of certain addictions, there are typical faces they can picture that they would group with different types of addictions. Addiction to substances like alcohol and marijuana may have a different face when compared to someone with a prescription addiction.
Stereotyping the faces of addiction can create a serious stigma and even harm those struggling with addiction. If there is a girl in college that has a serious prescription drug problem, she may not get the help she needs if people wouldn’t picture her as someone with that problem. Problems like these stem from many different things, especially the media.
Our society is heavily reliant on media to give them news and important facts. However, this creates a problem when many people don’t care enough to do their own research. When the media creates a “face” for certain addictions, they fail to point out that not all people who struggle with that addiction may look like the “face” they created. This is how stigma and stereotypes form. In this blog post, we will discuss different addictions, the stereotypes around them, and the facts about them.
Crack Cocaine Addiction
When you talk about crack cocaine addiction, it’s hard not to mention the crack epidemic in New York in the 70s and 80s. This epidemic spread like a wildfire in the black communities. Mostly black men were arrested for possession or use of crack cocaine. During their time in jail, some would receive proper treatment for their addiction, but many did not. Those who didn’t get proper treatment would wind up right back on the streets dealing with the addiction they were put in prison for. This created a huge stigma around the black community. Because of that epidemic, people have come to associate crack cocaine addiction with poor black communities.
While some statistics on crack cocaine addiction in black communities are true, crack addiction for anyone else is just as likely. The second you assume only black communities deal with this problem, a huge stigma is created around that addiction. Crack cocaine can also take another form as a powder, which is often seen to be used more by the white demographic. Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are still the same substance, just in different forms.
Meth addiction is often seen as something the white demographic deals with, but this addiction has no socio-economic or geographic limitation on who is using it. However, it seems as though whoever uses it more often is more likely to be in the working class. Fast-paced and larger cities like LA, NYC, and Chicago have a huge issue with this type of addiction. These cities are filled with working middle-class Americans, increasing the chances of meth addiction. This substance acts as an energy stimulant, almost like an extremely powerful Redbull. Meth has gone to show serious prevalence in poorer and more rural white communities, causing an increase in overdoses.
Opioid addiction is difficult to pinpoint, who uses and abuses them? Well, the answer is poor rural white communities. States with more rural and poor areas like Utah and New Mexico have high opioid overdose rates: 16.4 deaths per 100,000 people, more than the national average of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people.
In 2016, there were over 466 cases of opioid overdose in Utah. One county in the state of West Virginia has the worst problem with opioid addiction when compared to other places around the U.S. This state has a severe issue with poverty and it is unusual for anyone to live above the poverty line. Since there is a huge issue with poverty, opioid addiction has become rampant in a place like West Virginia. Because of this, poor white communities have become the face of opioid addiction.
Ecstasy, or MDMA, is widely seen used by younger white communities. This drug is often taken at parties or concerts to get a euphoric and energetic high. It is a synthetic drug that was originally used for therapeutic reasons. However, as is the case with many drugs, it became a drug that was abused. It has become a huge staple in the “nightlife” scene. This drug has an extremely energetic high with it, but has gone to show lower risks for violent behavior. This is why many young people use it.
Though many of these stigmas are not always true, they do hold some truth to them. It’s important to do research on addiction and realize that it does not affect only certain groups of people. Addiction can affect anyone and everyone, it does not have a bias. In order to properly fight against addiction, people should educate themselves and see that addiction is a disease that affects people from all demographics.
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