Drug abuse and addiction have a ripple effect that does not stop. The problems of addiction don’t just affect the addict or alcoholic, or their families. Drug abuse has been a global problem for a very long time, but in all this time what other effects has it had?
A Surprising Fact
There are illicit drugs in the water supplies of certain cities across America, Europe, and Asia. The drugs enter the water from the sewer systems. Some cities without proper wastewater treatment centers, the drugs are not filtered out properly. This does not mean a bag of cocaine is going to come out of your faucet, it only shows that drug abuse’s ripple effect goes further and further than one would imagine. With new synthesized drugs being manufactured, sold, and consumed we don’t know how these new drugs will make their way through our environment. Testing the water for drugs only shows us the concentration of drug use in an area and that may help us send help where it is needed. Research is a big part of beginning to solve this problem.
The U.S. Government has taken current steps to help with our national drug problem. There have been many Acts and Bills proposed and passed over the years. There are people in government that recognize that addiction has to be taken seriously and that we all have to help play our part in helping combat it. As of December 9th, 2019, the Synthetic Opioid Exposure Prevention and Training Act passed in The House of Representatives and is now being reviewed in the Senate.
This Act focuses on how to properly train safe handling of potential synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, agents, other personnel. Last November, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 was brought to Congress with the hope to enhance legal tools to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This addresses improving services, protection, and justice for victims of all ages. There is a lot of help this Act can provide for all women.
On June 10th, 2019, the RISE from Trauma Act was introduced. According to the Child Welfare League of America, ‘Almost half of the children in the United States have experienced at least one serious trauma, and nearly a quarter of children have had two or more traumatic experiences. Youth living in urban areas have a higher risk of experiencing trauma, and earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) called trauma a “costly public health problem.”
Despite this being a widespread problem, there are very few programs that are federally funded to treat youth who have experienced trauma or had an adverse experience.’ The RISE from Trauma Act can help children that have been exposed to increased rates of substance abuse, increased numbers of incarceration, and lowering of school performance and attendance.
Senator Dick Durbin said, “The weight of trauma, like exposure to violence or drug addiction, can cause emotional scars that follow a child for life. Without help, this can harm healthy development, disrupt school success, and fuel the cycle of violence and poverty.” This is proven every time someone shares their story of seeing things as a child that changed them forever. Child abuse and neglect are, unfortunately, a side effect of a parent or guardian’s addiction. In a lot of cases, children of addicts or alcoholics become addicts themselves. There is a cycle and it can be broken. The government is trying to help with Acts like these.
Our Own Communities
At a community level, these Acts can help provide funds for child welfare systems, safe houses for children and teens, even educational programs. Programs for women stuck in cycles of abuse, addiction, or sex trafficing can be addressed. Nationally recognizing that we have a problem that we can try and help solve. However, we need the people in the communities to acknowledge that they can help the victims of addiction, including the addicts and alcoholics themselves.
Addiction is an ever growing problem causing all the problems that go along with it to grow, as well. Things like crime, diseases, child neglect and abuse, the pain of the addict and alcoholics themselves and their families are some of the problems we face with addiction. Some communities fight to have sober houses and rehabs in their town for assorted reasons, for example, they think it may bring more crime to their doorsteps. The problem there is that there is already crime happening. We need to understand that people going to rehabs and sober houses are going to get help. As a community, that is what we need to focus on- getting and providing the help people need. We need to fight the stigma of addiction. If we do that, we can have safe places that addicts and alcoholics can go and receive the treatment that they desperately need.
For people that do not understand addiction, it becomes an uncontrollable everyday fight. It is not a lack of will power or because that person is morally bankrupt. Substance abuse changes the way the brain functions. Chemically, the brain changes. Then when the drug or alcohol runs out, to avoid the pain and hurt, there are a lot of things addicts do that they never thought they would. Getting addicts and alcoholics into detox, rehabs, inpatient and outpatient programs is how we fight this disease head on. There are medical professionals and rehabilitation specialists that are trained at every level of addiction there to help.
During this time of COVID-19 we have seen people rising to the occasion to help each other. We have come together to not feel so lonely and keep each other safe. We could rise to the occasion to help addicts and alcoholics, too.
We will always be in this together. We are a nation made up of communities.