The Normalization of Addiction

Recently, there was uproar in the Laguna Niguel community in California regarding the use of a video showing two girls smoking the herb called salvia to get high.  It was shown to a class of 5th graders as part of their drug-use prevention.  During this video, the girls struggle to talk, stagger around and when they are able to speak, use obscenities.  Parents were upset that this was used as part of an education program without their consent or knowledge or the right to refuse that it be shown to their children.  Some parents felt that using a video further sensationalized the drugs to impressionable kids.

All too frequently there are stories in the news of sudden deaths of actors, actresses, singers, and athletes.  These people are often role models for the youth of today – what kind of role model is one that uses drugs and/or alcohol?  And what kind of message does it send when these role models get arrested for possession, or DUI, etc., and are given a lighter sentence because of their place in society/culture?

Does it teach our kids that it’s ok to do drugs or drink in excess as long as you know the right people or have enough money?  Are we sensationalizing addiction? By having more and more shows and movies showing drug use or even drug manufacturing and distribution are we leading are our future generations to normalization of addiction?

Yes, it’s true, addiction happens and when it does happen, it happens to normal people, along with the rich and famous as well as the poor. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.  However, it’s not something that we should be portraying as glamorous or funny.  The truth of the matter is this: addiction hurts.  It hurts the addict, their family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances, etc.  Addiction can lead to job loss, loss of friends and family, health problems, diseases such as Hepatitis C or HIV/Aids, homelessness, or even death.  Why then do people even start to take drugs?  Why would they choose to lose their job, home, friends, family or life to something that is a temporary reprieve from the real world?

Many will argue that by seeing these “cultural icons” using and abusing drugs and alcohol, we are showing the world that you can be successful while using.  The other side will argue, however, “how much more successful would the same people be if they weren’t on drugs or alcohol?’

Those are questions that don’t have easy answers and more often than not it’s because the life of these icons is cut short from their alcohol or drug abuse.  It’s a sad day when someone’s talented life is cut short from something that can be helped.

If you or someone you love is battling with addiction, please know that there is help available.  Addiction isn’t something that will go away on its own.  It needs treatment and with the right treatment can be dealt with successfully.

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