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.
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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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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

This one's for you.
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You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that. I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions. After everything life has put you through you have still remained soft. This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did. You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself. You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away. Remember that it is OK to say no. You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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I Don't Smoke Weed Because I've Learned My Lesson, I Don't Need To Repeat It

The dumbest decision of my life formed my lifelong opinion on weed.

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Let's be realistic here, most of you guys have tried it, and if you haven't, you most likely will come across it at some point in your life. Yes, I'm talking about weed. Dope. Kush. Marijuana. Mary Jane. Whatever you call it, you know what I'm referring to. It's a pretty crazy thing, right? A college student who doesn't like getting high? Who would've thought?

There's a reason why I can't smoke weed, and why every time I do smoke weed, I turn into a complete anxious mess and end up calling my parents asking to be taken to the hospital.

I'm not exactly sure why I'm using this platform to tell a bunch of strangers why I don't smoke weed, and I know I'm definitely just asking to get shit on by the majority of my friends who already think I'm a tweak. I also know that I'm about to get hardcore judged by some of you for the ill-advised decision I made my sophomore year of high school. But trust me, there's no need for that because I've learned my lesson. It truly is the one day of my life that I wish I could do over, because here I am, nearly 4 years later, still coming to terms with the consequences of my sixteen-year-old stupidity.

It was the day I got my driver's license, and I was pumped to finally be able to drive around without my dad nagging at me from the passenger seat. So, as any newly-licensed juvenile would, I picked up my friend for a joyride.

It started off as a pretty normal day. We drove to the city, blasting music obnoxiously with the windows down, screaming at pedestrians, completely immersed in the freedom we were handed.

We were both high off of the idea that we were on our own. Driving around on that sunny day in December, we felt invincible with our newfound independence. Nothing could have ruined our mood during that drive, not even rush hour traffic.

However, that feeling quickly came crashing down.

After returning home from our adventure, we established that we didn't want our fun to end, so naturally, we decided to get high. As inexperienced sophomores, we didn't exactly have the equipment to do so, so we reverted to our next best option: sitting in my drawer was an edible that I had bought months prior from God knows where. It was a pot brownie concealed from my parents with crinkled tinfoil tucked away in my desk. I still have no clue why I had an edible on hand. I'm almost positive I didn't even know what weed was at the time.

My friend and I contemplated back and forth over whether or not we should take the edible. We didn't know much about weed brownies, or weed in general, but we figured that if we each had half, we would be feeling goooood in no time.

We split the edible in half and each took a piece. Of course, we thought it started working right away. My friend and I were elated and giddy over having our first experience taking an edible. After some time, we thought we were high (we weren't) and decided to go for another drive.

It was dark, and we were about fifteen minutes away from my house when I attempted to do a 3-point turn and continue on with our joyride. It was then that my mind went completely blank, and I forgot how to drive. My vision started to blur, my hands were tingling, and I had absolutely no clue what was going on. I couldn't remember how to use the gearshift, and that was the moment I started to freak out.

I got myself together for a second and told my friend that we had to go home. I started driving in my panicked state until my friend notified me that I had driven through a stop sign without even noticing. I parked my car on the side of the road and took some deep breaths. I thought I was going absolutely crazy. I then got back into the car and turned to my friend and told her she needed to drive me home, but of course, she didn't know how to drive yet. Classic.

It didn't occur to me that I was high out of my mind from the edible I had taken earlier. As the hypochondriac I was (and still am), I went straight to the conclusion that I was having some sort of mental episode which was causing my brain to deteriorate. My heart was pounding out of my chest at a rate that I can only attribute to what a heart attack must feel like, and I was convinced that something was physically wrong with me. Then for the last time, I attempted to drive again, but with little success as I realized I had no clue how to get back to my house. I was stoned.

We pulled into a church parking lot and I stopped the car. I slumped down into my seat and focused on my erratic heartbeat as I turned to my friend and asked her to call an ambulance for me. This by far was the scariest moment of my life, as I thought I was seconds away from death. I felt completely disconnected from my own body and had no clue as to what the hell was going on.

Looking back, my reaction was pretty ridiculous knowing that I was just high off my ass. However, as a young amateur, it was the most terrifying point in my life.

My friend didn't understand what was going on, but she didn't want to call anyone because she was scared of us getting in trouble. In my irrational state, all I wanted to do was talk to my mom, so against my friend's better judgment, I called my parents who were at a movie fairly close to where we were.

I was completely frantic and between sobs as I explained to my mom I was having a heart attack and that she needed to get me to a hospital. Of course, my mom being in a sober state of mind, stayed calm and tried to assess the situation. Here's how the phone call played out:

Me: "Mom you need to come and get me I'm dying. I'm having a heart attack and I don't know what's going on."

My mom (equally as frantic): "Maya you are having a panic attack -- you are fine."

Me: "You have no idea what's going on right now so how would you know?"

My mom: "Well, unless you took something it sounds like you are having a panic attack"

Me: "Mom... I need to tell you something. I took an edible, like with weed in it."

My mom: "Darn it, Maya."

My parents quickly came to pick up their dumbass daughter and equally guilty friend. On the incredibly awkward car ride back to my house, my dad explained to me that I wasn't, in fact dying, but that I was having a panic attack from the edible I had taken. I tried to reason with him and explain that my heart was giving out, but then he explained the symptoms of a panic attack and that's when I started to understand. The rest of that night consisted of me sitting on the couch hyperventilating and unable to swallow, as my parents stood by laughing at me while still holding their disapproving glares.

I'm sure you can probably guess what happened next: after a good night sleep, I was lectured and scolded for hours the next day, and of course, I suffered the consequences of being grounded just in time for New Years. Oh, and I also lost my driving privileges for quite some time. But that was a given.

For those of you who have never experienced the negative effects of marijuana, I wouldn't expect you to understand. You probably think I'm dramatic and that I just "can't hang." Which is true, I really can't hang, but now at least you know the reason why.

I would give anything to take back the stupid decision I made when I was sixteen because the choices I made that night signed me up for a lifelong, binding contract with generalized anxiety and panic disorder. However, that's a story for another time.

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