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Addiction: The Theft of the American Dream

I’ve been in mourning for decades — not the grief of physical death, although it’s comparable.

Addiction is the culprit. Heroin is to blame. Call it H, hell dust or smack, the opioid robbed a family member of their existence. Once they used the drug in their 20’s — my loved one never returned to us or fulfilled their God-given purpose. Over the years the battle ensued, including jail, stealing, lying and manipulation. When you’re around this, exposure to the evil circle encompasses all that is good.

Then are those nights when you don’t know if they’re dead or alive. The constant financial bailouts — trickery to get money for their next high drives a person into the ground.

Drug addiction not only kills the user slowly but the family as well. It’s a thief of dreams. We witnessed it draining the life out of my parents — until it did.

We still don’t know where our loved one is — we can only pray. Addiction is a demon can trap any person with a great heart and a love for God. A person can come from any background. They can be an executive, a housewife, rich or poor.

Addiction doesn’t discriminate.

Children as young as 12-years-old (or older) reported using heroin in the past year reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study found an estimated rate of 0.2 per 100 persons. “And in 2015, 81,326 emergency department visits occurred for unintentional, heroin-related poisonings in America, which is an estimated rate of almost 26 per 100,000 people.”

The stats of heroin coming into the U.S. are staggering. The Drug Enforcement Administration intercepted 16,000 kilograms of heroin since 2017.

President Donald Trump declared war against opioids when he took office in 2016. The Administration has launched numerous programs that range from health initiatives led by the Department of Health and Human Services to increase law enforcement through the Department of Justice.

“We will defeat this crisis, we will protect our beautiful children, and we will ensure that tomorrow is better, brighter, stronger, and greater than ever before,” said Trump who launched the Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.

The President declared the opioid crises a national public health emergency. His Administration has a tough job and so do people trying to help those affected by abuse. Despite the money being thrown into the system to stop drug abuse — the cards are stacked against us.

The chemical in heroin and many drugs alters the brain by creating long-term irregularities in the hormonal systems. Usage decreases how much dopamine and serotonin are released due to the drug. Continuous changes in the brain diminish the possibilities of rehabilitation — the brain is essentially hijacked.

The American dream used to be having a great career, family, buying a house, and having a vacation yearly.

Now, it’s overcoming addiction. Of course, this is not limited to illegal drugs. High-risk drinking, prescription medications, smoking all can crush a person.

It’s the thief of time, relationships, dreams and resources. Not only is it an individual problem — it’s America’s issue.

The country spends money on heart disease, cancer treatment, and other physical health issues. Addiction is not considered a disease — now we have to treat it as an illness as it takes more than willpower to subdue it. Over 63,600 people died of a drug overdose in 2016.

“That’s an increase of 21percent from the prior year and nearly double the 34,425 drug overdose deaths that occurred a decade earlier,” a 2018 Pew Study found.

The numbers for opioid addiction are incredibly alarming. When the story becomes personal — it not only impacts one person or one family. This fight for people’s lives impacts our nation.

I might always grieve over my family member. It’s a personal fight that’s exhausting. But like many others, giving it to God keeps light of hope on for him and others losing someone to addiction.

Addiction is the death of the American dream.

Corine Gatti-Santillo

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