Drugs: The Obvious Silent Killer

Drugs: The Obvious Silent Killer

A look into drug abuse and why no one is talking about it.
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Cervical cancer, hepatitis, chagas, nonmelanoma, colon cancer, osteoporosis, fatty liver disease, coronary artery disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Some of you are uncomfortably familiar with these diseases. Some of you have these or have had family members suffer from one or more of them. These are all considered the top silent killers.

What if I told you I thought there was another? Another silent killer. We all know about it. There are people dying every day from it. Everyone probably knows at least one person who has died from it within the past year. I, unfortunately, would run out fingers and toes counting the number of people who I know who have either died from it, or are digging their own grave because of it.

Have you figured it out yet? Right this second I bet you're asking if it is so common, why do I think it's a silent killer? I think that drug addiction belongs on that list. Did you guess right? If you didn't, chances are that you're not directly affected by drugs, and that is awesome. If you did answer correctly, I am so sorry.

You see, drug addiction is a disease. It takes over your everything. Clouds your judgement. Makes you reliant. The drugs make you think that it's okay. It betrays your trust, settles in your nervous system and it becomes the only thing you can think about.

I'm sure that you're reading this, thinking to yourself that it's not something you have to worry about. Think again. You probably have someone in your family suffering from addiction in silence. It might not even in silence. Maybe it’s your brother having a relapse. Maybe not. Maybe it's a close friend. Maybe it's neighbor, possibly even a coworker.

I'm also sure that if you're that person suffering from addiction, you think that it won't happen to you. Didn't I already say this? Think again. Every person that has died from drug abuse probably said the same thing. It is estimated that 570,000 people in America alone, die from drug abuse. What makes you think you're so special, that it won't happen to you?

All life is, is a ticking time bomb. Many of us don't get second chances. Sure, people have died on operating tables, drowned in bathtubs, even died from drug overdose, and they have been brought back. Someone was fortunate enough to find them in time, they were in the perfect storm of circumstances. The amount of people saved is very low compared to the amount of people not saved.

Why do I care so much? I didn't know most of my mother's side of the family, herself included, because drugs were more important to them. Some of us are working on repairing broken relationships, even when it's so hard because there are some things that time cannot fix.

I gave up hope a long time ago when it came to my mother. Losing hope was one of the hardest, yet easiest things I ever did. It was then I decided that the only thing I could do was promise myself that I would never be like her. I promised that I would never subject my kids to any hint of that kind of life. Over sheltering? Maybe. However, my kids will know what is important. They will know that drugs are real, that they take over everything, and that life is in limited supply.

There are people in my family suffering right now. They need to wake up, come out of that clouded vision they're in, and make the same realizations. We can't make people change. We can't eliminate drugs. We can be there for their kids when everything falls apart, and we can help them pick everything back up. We can tell them it's not their fault. I can tell you that it isn't your fault either.

Drug addiction is a silent killer. Comes in when you've done everything to try stop it. Drugs tell you that everything will be okay, even when that's the farthest thing from the truth. Things will be okay, until they're not. Ask yourself if you want to be the one picking up the pieces, or if you're the one they're picking up.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr: Fredrik Krey Stubberud

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Will The Latest E-Cig Death Start To Change How We Think About Vaping?

Two people have died from exploding e-cigs and teens are getting hooked at an alarming rate....but they're still unregulated in most of the United States.

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An exploding e-cigarette just took the life of a young man in Texas, reigniting a years-long discussion about vaping safety. News outlets say William Brown was in the parking lot of a vape and smoke shop on January 27th when his e-cigarette exploded, shot through his neck, and tore his left carotid artery. He was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma, where he died two days later. X-rays following the explosion showed a piece of the e-cigarette lodged in his throat. Brown was just weeks away from his 25th birthday when he died.

Investigators say the vape pens' battery caused the explosion. The battery inside e-cigarettes heats a liquid nicotine solution to create an aerosol that's inhaled like cigarettes. E-cigarette explosion lawyers say these batteries are known to explode and cause fire and serious injuries. More than 120 lawsuits have been filed so far, and that number is growing with each new product that hits the market.

Juuls are changing the scene around young people, as they're starting to become as commonplace as cell phones. They're small, flavorful, and look like a USB drive - making them very easy to hide in plain sight. If you haven't tried a Juul, I bet at least one of your friends has. And I bet at least one of their friends keeps a Juul in their pocket all the time.

Juuls were the subject of a class-action lawsuit in Philadelphia last year after many users said the marketing team lied about the amount of nicotine in their products. Juuls have been the subject of a lot of scrutinies recently, largely because much of their marketing has been directed to teens. Like most e-cigarettes, the nicotine solutions come in a variety of flavors that appeal to young people. We've all been walking down the street and walked through a cloud of cotton candy or tropical-scented vapor, only to realize the smell came from someone puffing an e-cig on the sidewalk. But the prevalence of these devices, and the multitude of studies both proving and disproving that they're better for you than cigarettes has put vaping at the forefront of the public eye.

According to his grandmother, Brown suffered from asthma problems and had been encouraged to try vaping by one of his friends. The friend told him it would help him breathe better. This is just one of the many misconceptions being circulated about e-cigarettes, which could explain why they've become so popular among young people in the United States. Last year the FDA declared teen e-cigarette use an epidemic, citing "almost ubiquitous - and dangerous - trend among teenagers". Data from November 2018 showed a 78% increase in the number of high school students who reported vaping in the past month, as compared to the previous year. Those numbers represented more than 3 million American high school students, more than 20% of the population. The study also included nearly 600,000 middle school students who had used the nicotine products.

In an effort to reverse the trend, the administration pulled flavored e-cigarette juice from convenience store shelves across the U.S. The change meant that all flavors other than menthol, mint, and tobacco could only be sold at age-restricted online retailers and smoke shops.

Research is inconclusive about the long term health effects of vaping. Some, including many of the e-cigarette companies themselves, argue their products are a less harmful way to address nicotine cravings in adults. They were first marketed as a weaning device for long-term smokers. However, the ease and prevalence of e-cigarettes have many concerned about making it easier for the next generation to form a nicotine addiction. Before the FDA began to intervene there were very few federal regulations limiting e-cigarettes. There are still very few regulations in place about the physical safety of the devices. But as more people suffer severe and fatal injuries after exploding batteries, there is a growing public concern.

Brown's death was not the first linked to an exploding vaporizer. Last May, a man in St. Petersburg, Florida became the first man to die from an e-cigarette explosion when pieces of his vape shot through his skull. Between 2009 and 2016, there were 195 separate e-cigarette fire and explosion accidents in the United States. In comparison, the lithium-ion batteries in hoverboards had sparked 99 fires as of 2016, resulting in a massive recall of nearly 500,000 products. It's now very clear that there's a problem with e-cigarettes, leaving many to wonder how many people will need to get hurt before changes are made in the industry.

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