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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Breaking the stigma around drug addiction

Why we should focus on rehabilitation instead of isolation
Peyton McKenzie

When you hear the words “drug addict,” what words first come to your head? Is it junkie, druggie or burnout? For some, it may be the story of their brother, mother or neighbor.

People assume that drug addicts choose to be addicted to drugs, like anyone chooses to damage their relationships with the people they love. They don’t want to blow through their money or deal with the side effects of withdrawals. Drug addicts need help, not shame or avoidance.

In 2022, the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 46.8 million Americans ages 12 and older battled a substance use disorder. Even if you may not be personally affected by drug addiction, I can almost guarantee that you have someone in your life who has, even if you are unaware.

Steve-O, also known as Stephen Glover, is mostly known as the star from MTV’s “Jackass” TV series and has been sober from drugs and alcohol for 15 years. He first got sober after his co-stars staged an intervention in 2008 when he was involuntarily placed into a psychiatric hospital and then went into an inpatient drug rehab center.

Glover said on the Tamron Hall Show that he never expected to even see the age of 30. Now he is 49 years old and has gone from not knowing where to go with his career or how to make back the money he lost during his addiction, to writing a book, going on tour and hosting a successful podcast.

Without the support of the people around him, he may never have gotten sober, which is why it is so important to take initiative rather than judge people with a history of drug addiction. I look up to Glover for his determination to stay sober and give advice to others. Him sharing his story helps show that recovery is possible. The more people who open up about their experiences, the more the misconceptions around addiction can be reduced.

If the stigma around drug addiction does not go away, people are going to be scared to reach out for the resources they need. There needs to be more education around drugs, such as what to do if someone is having an overdose or signs that someone you know is struggling with addiction — rather than a D.A.R.E. program telling kids to simply not do drugs.

There also needs to be more safe spaces for young people to go if they have a drug problem. They deserve to have adults they can trust who don’t just immediately punish them.

Access to opioid reversal treatments, such as naloxone and nalmefene, needs to be expanded. Narcan, which is a product that dispenses Naloxone, is now available over-the-counter.

However, it costs around $44 for 0.1 milliliters, which isn’t feasible for a lot of people when it expires after three years. There have been studies showing Narcan works after expiration, but it is still marketed as lasting that amount of time.

Nalmefene requires a prescription and is around the same price for 0.1 milliliter. Having reversal treatments at places such as schools, concerts and bars would help so many people and normalize discussions about drug addiction rather than pretending it’s not a problem.

For more people to become sober, rehabilitation centers need to be more affordable. The total average cost individuals spend in the state of Connecticut to go to rehabilitation for substance abuse disorder is nearly $58,000.

If people don’t have the money to receive treatment, they may just give up, especially if they have been there before. Free treatment centers don’t always have enough resources to provide what patients need and are more likely to run out of available space, which is not fair to workers or patients.

There also needs to be more government funding for syringe service programs, which facilitate the safe disposal of sterile syringes and injection equipment. These programs provide opioid overdose prevention education and refer people to supportive housing, medication assisted therapy and primary care.

People who are in an SSP are five times more likely to enter drug treatment and about three times more likely to stop using drugs than those who don’t use the programs, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2021, approximately 107,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S., and the numbers only rise year after year. Significant change needs to be made on the local and national level, and people can’t be afraid to speak up. The first step is to let go of any negative associations you have with addicts and treat them the same as you would any other person.

Listen to the people around you. If you notice something is off about their personality or something seems to be going on, have a conversation with them. Be patient, even if they are not willing to talk about it or get help right away. It’s normal to feel angry or upset with them, but recovery is a process that’s not going to happen overnight.

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About the Contributors
Krystal Miller
Krystal Miller, Associate Arts & Life Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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    AnonymousApr 18, 2024 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you for this. I’m so glad people write about these topics.