Acknowledging addictions

Addiction (n.): the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, according to Addiction is a topic that is very impactful to one’s life whether the people around them can see it or not.

Ohio’s opioid addiction has become very prevalent over the past few years. It has increased about 20 percent in the last year alone, according to the Columbus Ohio Drug Treatment Centers. However, it is not the most common addiction.

“Tobacco is actually very addictive, but a

lcohol is the most common, followed by marijuana and opioids,” Tina T from the Columbus Ohio Drug Treatment Centers, who didn’t want to give her last name, said.

Many of the drug and alcohol products that are addictive are depressants. This causes “the body to slow down mentally and through other bodily processes,” Sarah from the 24/7 Recovery hotline, who also didn’t want to give her last name said.

“Recent use of illicit substances is most common among people in their mid-teens to mid-20s. Roughly 23 percent of people in that age group had problems with abuse and dependence, compared with just under nine percent of the general population. During 2010, about one in five people ages 18 to 20 admitted using illicit drugs during the past month. This rate declines as people grow older,” Tina said.

Some people use drugs and alcohol due to an underlying reason, such as mental illnesses. “Someone with a low sense of self-worth combined with a tendency to respond to pressure from personal, professional or financial sources can lead someone to an environment where drug use is accepted and drugs are readily available,” Tina said.

A common misconception that may cause someone to do drugs is that using drugs is not harmful. However, they can do an array of harmful things to the body that can lead to lifelong complications or even death. Drug addicts may experience heart failure, HIV, lung damage, seizures or become comatose.

Substance abuse can not only ruin the user’s life, but the relationships they have with the people around them. This can lead to separation between “the user from his or her loved ones, so that the addict’s relationship with the drug takes precedence over everything else. Addicts may become secretive, isolated and defensive in the early stages of substance abuse,” Tina said.

With the progression of their disease, addicts often leave their families or partners to pursue their drug habits. It can also ruin professional relationships, leaving addicts struggling to hold a job.

Though addicts may become addicted to drugs and alcohol, addiction extends toward more than just those two substances. Gambling, for instance, is an activity that a person may become addicted to.

“Research to date shows that pathological gamblers and drug addicts share many of the same genetic predispositions for impulsivity and reward seeking. Just as substance addicts require increasingly strong hits to get high, compulsive gamblers pursue ever riskier ventures,” Ferris Jabr, associate editor at Scientific American, said.

Similar to gambling, an addiction to the Internet is also an impulse control disorder. With the major growth in technology over the past few years, Internet addiction has grown. Using the Internet as a way to escape problems, being online longer than intended, jeopardizing relationships, jobs or education due to the Internet and increasing time online to achieve satisfaction are all signs of an Internet addiction.

This addiction can lead to issues in real life relationships, whether that be a family or professional relationship. Individuals who suffer with personal problems may spend more time online instead of with others in person.

Within high schools, addictions are extremely common and are often ignored. This issue is becoming more frequent, and students are beginning to believe that these types of addictions are acceptable.

Tobacco, alcohol and marijuana are the most prevalent addictions high school students face. There have also been growing issues with opioid addiction in the past years according to Pupil Service Supervisor of Student Well-Being Allisha Berendts.

“According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2015, 11 percent f high school students reported smoking cigarettes and seven percent reported using other types of tobacco products. 24 percent of students reported using vaping products. 33 percent reported they drank at least one alcoholic beverage in the last 30 days. 39 percent reported they used marijuana at least once,” Berendts said.

These statistics demonstrate the urgency to assist students struggling with the growing issue of addictions. There are several ways an addict can deal with their addictions when it comes to receiving the help necessary to treat the problem.

“If a student feels they are struggling with substance use, abuse, an addiction or even other mental health issues, I would strongly encourage them to talk with a trusted teacher, administrator or their school counselor to help them get linked with-in school and community supports. Every school has a social worker assigned to the building to help students struggling with non-academic barriers and to assist them with linkage to outside resources,” Berendts said.

Different steps are necessary for every person dealing with addiction because their circumstances are different. One company that works with the district is Syntero, a support program that helps people with a variety of topics.

“There are a variety of treatments available based on the severity of use and if the individual qualifies for a diagnosis. If use is severe, detox and more long-term treatment may be needed. If use is less severe, traditional outpatient therapy can be effective using treatment cognitive behavioral therapy and a treatment method called motivational interviewing to foster desire to change behaviors,” school-based clinician from Syntero Shayla Krecklow said.

Students who handle, distribute or abuse substances are subject to punishments based on the rules stated in the handbook. Depending on the extent of the offense, students may have to go to Wednesday school, get suspended or be expelled.

Any particular behavior, “on or in close proximity to any property owned, leased by or under the control of the Olentangy Board of Education, including vehicles used for the transportation of students” is able to be investigated and may lead to punishments, according to the student handbook.

A group has been created to combat illicit substance use by students. Youth to Youth, more commonly known as Y2Y, is an adult- guided youth-drive program that is strictly against the use of all drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Based in Central Ohio, the organization highlights the need to spread awareness of drug abuse to adults and teenagers alike.

According to, the group’s mission is to bring people together with the common goal of fighting off drugs. “[When] youth spread the drug prevention message to other youth, they create positive peer pressure among themselves that helps teens stay drug free, and they don’t have to hear some boring lecture from another adult. Y2Y also focuses on the teen as a whole,” Y2Y international services coordinator Geena Fontanarosa said.

Y2Y has released many campaigns, such as the “I’d rather have the real thing” counter-marketing campaign, which focused on choosing the actual food over the corresponding e-cigarette flavor. Since the campaign was published last May, it has received more than 40,000 views on social media in the Central Ohio area alone, according to Fontanarosa.

Y2Y member Pooja Srinivasan meets with the group every Wednesday. “At Y2Y advisory board meetings we usually discuss what’s coming up in the future, opportunities to spread even more awareness and the annual camp and conference events,” Srinivasan said.

Narcotics Anonymous, or NA, is a community-based international organization founded in 1953. NA holds over 67,000 meetings in around 139 countries, according to The organization isn’t meant to focus on just one type of drug addiction or the poor choices people have made in the past, rather they are only interested in how people want to fix their problems, and what they need in order to get to where they want to be.

“We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. This is a program of complete abstinence from all drugs. There is only one requirement for membership, the desire to stop using,” PR subcommittee member Paul M said.

NA is not affiliated with any other organizations, they have no initiation or membership fees and they aren’t connected to any political, religious or law enforcement groups. They are under no surveillance at any time. They are simply addicts helping one another stay clean through the actively working 12 step program of NA.

“Our simple message is that an addict, any addict, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and find a new way of life,” Paul said. “Our message is hope and the promise of


Illustration by Jacob Fulton


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