Let's Make 2018 The Year We Diagnose And Treat Drug Addiction Like The Disease It Is

Let's Make 2018 The Year We Diagnose And Treat Drug Addiction Like The Disease It Is

Prison just punishes those with addiction problems without providing a solution. It's not treatment — it's straight up punishment.

America, it's time that we wake up. It's time that we wake up and realize that treating people with drug addictions like criminals is not going to help anything.

Prison just punishes those with addiction problems without providing a solution. It's not treatment — it's straight up punishment. They don't provide guidance to those struggling with the drug addiction; they just lock them up for a period of time before releasing them back into the real world without any guidance on how to actually live a clean life.

In addition, even if they do somehow get clean after being in jail, finding a job now becomes nearly impossible because they have a criminal record from being jailed.

I understand the argument that people make the choice to do drugs — I get that. What I don't understand, though, is how people would rather sit back and watch someone with a drug addiction suffer than help them get help.

In 2014, 21.5 million Americans battled with a substance abuse disorder.

21.5 million — let that sink in for a second.

To put that in perspective, there are around 323 million people in the United States, which means that over six percent of the population is struggling with a substance abuse disorder.

I've seen some of my family members fight and battle substance abuse disorders over the years and for one of my family members, it took his life.

If people are making the argument to decriminalize marijuana, then why aren't we, as a society, making an effort to help those with serious addictions? If we have the mentality that one drug isn't a reason to be jailed, then why is someone who is seriously struggling any different?

Not only would rehab treatment actually be a productive solution for those struggling with addiction — it would be much cheaper for the nation as well. The average cost of rehab for a year is $4,700 per a person whereas imprisoning someone for a year costs around $24,000.

It's cheaper to get someone the help they need — so why not save the government money AND help those who really need that help? Sometimes, the only reason people aren't getting help for their addictions is due to money. But, if the government can afford to jail them, they can afford to help them get into rehab.

By keeping those struggling with substance abuse in jail, it's also taking spaces from those who have committed real and heinous crimes.

It's time we stop denying those with substance abuse problems the help they need and start giving them the tools to get back on track.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.

It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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The Opioid Crisis Is Real, And You Cannot Run From It

It will come into your community and it will hit with force.

From 1999 to 2016 630,000 people died from a drug overdose, and 350,000 people died from an opioid overdose. 115 people die every day from an opioid overdose. In 2016 there were 63,600 drug overdose deaths and about 66% of those deaths involved an opioid. That is five times higher than the death rate in 1999.

The CDC outlines the opioid epidemic in waves. It all started in the 1990s with prescription opioids, in 1999 the rise in deaths from these prescription opioids make up the first wave. The second wave in 2010 involves the rise in heroin overdose deaths. Then in 2013, the third wave hit with a rise in synthetic opioid overdose rates.

What are prescription opioids?

They are the pain drugs doctors give you for pain. So cancer patients and those in post-surgery recovery are prescribed these the most. The most common drugs are Methadone, Oxycodone aka “Hillbilly Heroin”, and Hydrocodone. Heroin is an illegal street drug that is highly addictive. It is normally injected but can be smoked or snorted.

Fentanyl is the new wave of the opioid crisis. It is a synthetic opioid and is typically used for advanced stage cancer patients. What is so dangerous about fentanyl is its potency, it is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Some drugs, mostly heroin and cocaine, are cut with fentanyl making the effects of these drugs stronger. This is sometimes done without the knowledge of the people taking them.

A result of the opioid crisis nobody talks about is the effects it has on children. As of 2017, Kentucky leads the nation in babies born addicted to opioids. Part of First Lady Melania Trump’s Be Best initiative is addressing the needs of children affected by this crisis. Especially children born addicted to drugs. These infants are given doses of morphine and slowly taken down off of it. They scream, have seizures or convulsions, and will throw up due to the withdrawal. These children are sometimes placed in the NICU for seven weeks or more.

President Trump was right in declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency. States like Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia might have the highest overdose rates; but unless we address this problem soon your state might be on this list too.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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