Systemic Problems

There are systemic issues that both can lead to addiction and then stem from addiction

In order to deal with drug addiction and substance abuse, we must first pinpoint the laws and policies in place that have allowed the problem to grow to this magnitude. Created by: Keith Brown

Our Society Makes it Easy for Us to Get High

Every addict has a story about how their experience with drugs began. For some, an injury was sustained and then addictive medicine was used to treat pain and they became addicted. For others, they have tried drugs to self-medicate mental disorders or stress. These systemic issues can change someone’s life forever. 

It was self-medicating that began Brian Cloud’s addiction journey. “When I was 13 years old,” Cloud said. “I had a severe migraine problem and I was presented with prescription perks.” But Cloud’s use did not stop there. He began to enjoy the way it made him feel and his usage increased. 

“I felt it made me smarter, better, less tired, more equipped to handle life,” Cloud said. “By the time I was 14 I had withdrawn for the first time and I didn’t even know it.” Others may have tried a less harmful and more socially acceptable drug such as marijuana and progressed to more addictive, life-threatening drugs. Some variables that increase chances of using addictive drugs include a person’s environment, peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, early exposure to drugs, addictive personalities, stress and risky or careless behavior. 

So if these drugs are so addictive and deadly, why are people trying them in the first place? What systemic issues are causing this epidemic?

There is no obvious answer to this question, but the underlying theme to each way addiction begins is a lack of understanding of the possible consequences. For the people who began their addictions on prescribed medicines, they often blindly took their medication without knowing the possibilities of addiction, just trusting their doctors. But are doctors properly trained in prescribing drugs for pain management? Tom Carr, the Director of the Washington D.C. and Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area works to discover where drugs are coming from.

“One of the things that we have looked at that others have looked at is the training that goes on in medical school,” Carr said. ”Many doctors really didn’t receive much training at all in so far as pain management.”

This lack of pain management understanding has led to over-prescribing these drugs, which is one of the underlying causes of the addiction epidemic.

Others who began their addiction by self-medicating often did not have a reliable, correct information about drug usage. Frequently the user liked the feeling of the drugs and increased their own usage, which ultimately led to their addiction. 

The environment in which people live in plays a pivotal role in how some addicts begin their misuse. In an environment where drugs are common and accepted, drug users will often “recruit” new users. For instance, Baltimore is coined the Heroin Capital of the United States because heroin is easily available due to the shipping ports in the city.

“You have a lot of generational addiction here, the grandfather was addicted, his son was addicted, and now he has a son who is also addicted. We have generational poverty but we also have generational addiction,” Kevin Shird, West Baltimore native and author of Lessons of Redemption and Uprising in the City, said.

Written by: Drew Vernon

Street drug prices are cheaper than retail drugs purchased from medical professionals. Created by: Brianna Morrell