20 million suffering from addiction are affecting our children’s future

20 million Americans suffering from addiction are affecting our children's futureIn November 2016, the United States Surgeon General reported that over 20 million Americans are currently struggling with some form of drug addiction. The grapple that drugs have over Americans has gotten tighter and tighter over the years. Ever since the beginning of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973, over $3 trillion dollars has been allocated to help fight the war on drugs and lower the rates of drug addiction in America.

While the funding is there, the numbers of people suffering from drug addiction and incarceration continually rises, as does the number of children who witness drug addiction in their homes. Children ages 12-17 are a growing category in research studies of those who are drug addicted.

The implications and the consequences can be long-lasting and even deadly. NBC Nightly News had the opportunity to explore these impacts and the consequences, during a visit to the Betty Ford Center Children’s Program. There, they had the chance to speak with children – and the addicted, on this very topic.

Children’s perceptions of drug addiction

When it comes to drug addiction, children are impacted and affected just as much as the individual who is addicted. In fact, the lasting impact on the children is greater in many cases.

In the NBC Nightly News interview, Kate Snow sat down with three children: Kaden, Gracie, and Weston. The major influences in their life were addicted to heroin. Starting off the interview, Ms. Snow had the children draw how drug addiction made them feel, and what it looked like in their lives.

While the children were drawing what addiction looked like in their life, Weston described addiction as, “A disease. With drugs and alcohol.” In response, his sister, Gracie, said of heroin, “It makes you ‘happy’ but not really happy.”

In the same conversation, Kaden began to draw what he called, “pretty shapes” because his mom and dad use to make them on metal. In a conversation with Kaden’s mom Nicole, she said, “Mhm. For smoking heroin. We would do it in the car, while we were driving.”

Sadly, these children, just like thousands of others, have gone through something very similar. As children get older, the true impacts begin to show. As many studies have revealed, children who are witnesses to such abuse will experience a greater chance of drug addicting seeping into their lives.

In the interview, Jerry Moe said, “I call these boys and girls silent and invisible. Children are first heard and last helped.” That’s the problem. Children are being heard, but they are not being helped. In their future, this path can lead to depression, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety and potentially death.

The Betty Ford Center Children’s Program is currently transforming this notion as it has brought families back together, and re-establishing a bond that was broken by the hold of drugs.

The impacts and perceptions of the addicted

“How could you do that to your kids?” – Kate Snow

“A lot of guilt and a lot of remorse. And seeing their pictures and the stuff they draw.” – Jerry

“There is a lot of guilt and shame. He still is very angry. He’s sad a lot of the time.” – Nicole

The grasp drug addiction has on Americans is estimated to currently affect over 20 million Americans. Those who are addicted face everyday struggles whether they are going through withdrawal, or attempting to find their next drug fix of the day. In that, their sense of care for the world and those around becomes only a background and the drug becomes the foreground.

In the NBC Nightly News report, Nicole discussed the impacts of drugs on her when she mentioned that, because of her addiction, she lost track and concentration on her son Kaden, as he frequently missed meals and he did not attend kindergarten for 40 days. Nicole said with tears in her eyes, “For so long I didn’t have feelings. I would numb them out.”

In the case of Gracie and Weston, their Dad Jerry frequently missed the growth of his children because he was always sleeping. These are only two cases amongst millions of Americans suffering with drug addiction. Millions of voices can be heard through their words.

In this socially and economically destroying cycle, family, friends and work situations all dwindle, leaving the addicts with serious depression, anxiety, confusion and sadly (to cope with these problems) more drugs. Upon overcoming the addictive patterns, a sense of relief sets in as a light begins to shine – a light of life that was veiled and numbed by pain, sorrow and drugs.

Moving from addiction to liberation

The NBC Nightly News revealed that both individuals afflicted with drug addition are now clean, and have been sober for 15 months and 18 months respectively. Jerry and Nicole both have returned to the workforce, and are living fuller, clean lives with family. In light of this, Jerry and Nicole’s families have coped, grown and learned together.

In fact, Jerry’s wife mentioned in the interview that today, her children see their father’s past as strength. “This is not something you need to be ashamed of. It’s become a family struggle. It’s something to take pride in now,” she said.

It’s one of the most liberating feelings when the individual who has been addicted has finally become ‘clean.’

The grasp of drugs

The grasp of drugs in America has gotten stronger over time. With increasing numbers of abusers and users, the rates of drug addiction in younger children are beginning to skyrocket. Due to this, numerous companies are working collectively to help children affected by addiction, to move past and away from that lifestyle. In efforts to help educate children at a younger age, there are numerous school programs available to guide them away from drugs.

At the same time, there are numerous programs available for adults as well. Rather than submit to the grapple of addiction, they hope to help children break free of the chains that have taken ahold of over 20 million Americans thus far through drugs.

Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.