Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease

Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease

Let me take you into a cancer ward, then try telling me you also have a disease.

Drug addiction has increasingly become more problematic over the last few years, with the opioid epidemic tearing apart families and leaving communities vulnerable to drug dealers and violence. Addiction treatment has become more widely available, and the stereotypes surrounding addicts have definitely changed.

SEE ALSO: Accepting Addiction As A Disease Isn't Enabling Addicts, It's Helping Them

However, one thing remains constant, and that is addicts and enablers labeling drug addiction as a disease.

Addiction changes the brain in fundamental ways. It changes the normal hierarchy in a person's brain and then substitutes their needs and priorities for whatever said addictive is (in this case, we're focusing on drugs). When a person does a drug, they release dopamine, which causes the body to crave the substance more, and eventually alters the way the brain reacts to these chemicals. The reason that drug addictions are called "diseases" is that since the brain has become altered from drugs, the resulting compulsive behavior overrides the ability to control impulses, therefore making it a "relapsing disease."

You chose this.

You chose to smoke the weed.

You chose to shoot up heroin.

You chose to snort cocaine.

You chose to buy prescription pills that you did not need.

You chose this.

I can't express how much it infuriates me when drug addicts have the audacity to play the "oh poor me" role, blaming their choices on a disease that they brought on themselves. That child in the cancer ward didn't choose to do something that brought on their cancer, that woman with cystic fibrosis didn't do something to bring it upon herself.

Every drug addict made a choice, so don't tell me you have a disease all because you chose to do something you knew wasn't right. Could you really look a child stricken with cancer in the eyes and tell them you also have a disease, that you're also sick, but that unlike them, you made choices that led you to where you are, while they didn't? Take some personal responsibility and own up to it, but don't you dare go around telling people you have this so called disease that YOU created.

I've seen firsthand what addiction can do, who it hurts and how it destroys. I've watched enablers cosset the addict, consistently making up excuses as to why that person is an addict, why they can't quit, and best of all; why they have a disease and should be treated as such. But enablers are not the problem, it's the manipulator –– who is the drug addict.

They manipulate others to believe their lies, to believe that they are actually diseased and therefore can not quit because it’s a sickness. Have we, as a society, become so blatantly oblivious to basic manipulation tactics that we fail to see that drug addicts have made this "disease" for themselves as a means to escape personal responsibility?

SEE ALSO: I'll Stop Calling Addiction A Disease When It Stops Actually Being One

The reason this bothers me so much isn't because I watch these addicts throw away their life, while someone is sitting in a hospital bed clinging onto their last breath, wishing that just for a moment they were healthy, that they didn't have to face the chances that they would be dead within months. It bothers me because of the label we have given to addicts. This label makes them believe they have an actual disease that they didn't ask for. Let's be real, what person asks for cancer, cystic fibrosis, ulcerative colitis, or multiple sclerosis?

So please, stop playing the victim role thinking you have a disease that you brought on yourself because of your choices. Stop crying the blues because you screwed up and want the world to take pity.

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Students, PLEASE Stop Vaping

It's one step closer to cancer.

Picture this: You’re out at a party and somebody offers you a hit from their Juul. You don’t want to seem like a loser, so you suck the nicotine and chemicals into your lungs.

You are now one step closer to developing lung cancer.

We do not truly know the risks of vaping because it is so new, but recent studies suggest that the chemicals used in vape pens or e-cigarettes can lead to cancer. Inhaling the vapor could also cause bronchitis.

And it’s not just your lungs that can be affected.

Vaping can lead to gum inflammation and damage, which may lead to you losing your teeth.

Do you want to have dentures at the age of 20?

Vape pens and e-cigarettes are not supposed to be for teenagers. They’re marketed as a tool to stop smoking, just like nicotine gum or nicotine patches.

If you haven’t ever smoked cigarettes before, would you want to just chew a piece of nicotine gum?

The worst part about vaping is that we don’t know the long-term effects.

E-cigarettes have only been around for 10 years or so, so there’s no way we can understand what’s going to happen to the people that use e-cigarettes 50 years down the line.

You may want to seem cool to all of your friends, but are you even going to be friends with them in five years?

And why does it matter what people think?

All that really matters is that you are healthy and proud of yourself. By turning to a box of chemicals, you’re ruining your health.

My grandmother recently died of cancer. It had metastasized to her lungs. She had never smoked a cigarette in her entire life. She was having extreme difficulty breathing and would cough nonstop. She was only 72.

Do you want that to be you?

So a word of advice to students from a student: leave vaping in 2017.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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My Personal Dilemna On Psychiatric Meds and Where I Stand

Because after ten years of taking them, my mind tends to ponder

If you have been reading my previous articles, there had been one where I touched upon mental health and self-care. In my situation, I have been on psychiatric medications since I was fourteen, and I am now twenty-four. As society grows wiser (or dumber), many new opinions have been formed about the need for psychiatric meds as a treatment in opposition to two topics I will go over as we move forward in the article:

1. No medications, AKA "cold turkey" and,

2. Cannabis.

Many believe that being "woke" means awakening to the conspiracy or fact, however, you view it, that the government is poisoning us and we don't need psychiatric medications. Many others believe that marijuana is given from Mother Earth thus it could be a great treatment for psychiatric conditions given its proven benefits for many people.

1. The Cold Turkey Dilemma

Now, this is where my dilemma comes into play. First of all, I get it. I see where people are coming from in terms of the possibility that we are just told we need medication to fix a problem. In other words, that's the basic description of American culture. However, from my experience, I have heard these theories from people who never had to take an antidepressant in their life, experience a withdrawal, or go through some serious psychiatric trauma.

In addition, most people are so quick to take a Tylenol for a headache but will refuse Prozac as a treatment. And to those who can fight their illness head-on with no medication of any kind, props to them and much respect. On the other hand, there are many like myself who tried to do it without medications and felt themselves sinking quickly in sand that wasn't even meant to sink in the first place.

Personally, I have always wondered if I had been conditioned by an industry to believe that I need my Lithium and Zoloft to function with an addition of Adderall to solve my daily struggles? And if that is the case, should I actually come off my meds, would my symptoms be triggered because my mind needs the chemicals to function? Or because my body has become so used to medication that it's actually my body withdrawing?

Honestly, at this point in my life, I am thankfully stable and I can truly thank my psychiatrist for that because had she not stabilized my meds, I would've been in a completely different place. Yeah, I can wander and all, but at this point, if a diabetic needs his insulin and does not have to truly ponder on if he's just using extra for his health, then neither should I have to worry about that as well.

2. Medical marijuana and my personal disaster

In terms of medical marijuana for mental illness, the panic attacks I have had while smoking weed have constantly been a reminder as to how awful it is for me and many others like myself. It was almost a month ago that I was at a friend's house, two hours from where I lived, and I had to sleep there because it was late at night.

What was the problem? Not having my meds handy that help me sleep at night and stabilize my mood. I now reside in California where marijuana is legal and easily obtained. My friend happened to have a strand called Indica, which is supposed to deliver a body high and not activate the mind as much. I thought to myself that if this is natural and also the sleeping strand not the hyper one that makes me feel psychotic, then one hit should help me sleep.

I shit you not, five minutes after one hit I was screaming for help while pouring water on my head to end my high immediately. It was the worst panic attack I had ever had in my life. The next day, I woke up and did not have my anti-depressants on hand that I take in the mornings. When driving back with my sister who happened to be beside me, I had freaked out while we were on the road and felt suicidal thoughts and as if I did not recognize myself. So, medical marijuana is absolutely out of the question.

I guess overall, I truly don't know where I stand right now. However, nobody else can decide whether I'm a "victim" of the "system," or truly in need of my medication and constant moderation of them. No one can decide or judge but G-d, myself, and my doctor. To anybody else going through a similar dilemma, I can not give any medical advice, but I will recommend that you shut out the outer influences and listen to your inner voice because that is what guides you forever.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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