A Unique Way Of Treating Those Who Have Lost Their Way Due To Mental Illness or Drug Addiction

Long exposure of a lonely man at subway

The holiday season is often seen as the most wonderful time of the year, and everyone seems to cheer up a bit when December comes around. Family takes the forefront, and people come together across the world to be with their loved ones again and look forward to the promise of a new year. Especially this year, many are looking forward to putting the old year behind them and trying to enjoy the next one. As the world tries to overcome the global pandemic, now more than ever, people are in search of comfort, family, and community.

However, there are groups of people who are left in unfortunate circumstances and cannot enjoy these times like everyone else. Whether it be those who have severe mental illnesses or people who have found themselves addicted to drugs, there are millions of people who suffer in the United States and wage their quiet war against the demons that plague them.

It is estimated that nearly 60 million Americans suffer from mental illness to some degree, with nearly 20 million suffering from a serious or debilitating mental illness. Many of these people’s illnesses are rooted in trauma sustained at some point in their lives, which has profoundly impacted their lives. For instance, veterans have some of the highest percentages of mentally ill individuals, with nearly two million seeking aid in 2017 alone.

These people are often left by the wayside, unable to be helped either due to the lack of resources available or due to the stigma that still permeates our culture. Many people are afraid of or are wary of those with mental illnesses due to seeing them as dangerous, strange, or unpleasant to be around. This has the effect of making those afflicted by being more insular than ever unable to shake the feeling that people see them as broken or wrong somehow. This sentiment, however unfortunate, is also echoed in another maligned group in the United States: drug addicts.

Nearly 21 million people have an addiction to some form of drug, whether it be over the counter, prescription, or illegal drugs. Similar to how people with mental illnesses are often forgotten or ignored by society, only 10% of drug addicts receive the help that they need. This comes from multiple sources, including the lack of resources allowed towards clinics and hospitals for helping these people. Further issues come from the fact that most treatment centers are dedicated to just treating the addiction versus actually addressing the issues that caused them in the first place.

While admirable, this stance has the unfortunate consequence of never actually fixing the issues that lead to addiction and forcing the individual to rely upon themselves to stay away from addiction. Thus the same reasons that led to addiction in the first place can come back into play. Things like social pressure, unresolved trauma, depression, or chronic pain continue to impact them and are left unattended. This can lead the entire process back into a circle, where they cannot escape the cycle of addiction that has claimed them.

Nothing illustrates this more than the sad nature of the current opioid crisis that plagues the United States. Rooted in misinformation from drug producers in the 1990s, the opioid crisis exists due to overprescribing opioid-based painkillers to patients for anything from simple routine surgery, broken limbs, or major surgical operations. Due to further misinformation, it was believed that opioids were low addiction risks, but instead, nearly 30% of users became heavily addicted to their medication. Once their supply ran out, these addicts were forced to turn to street drugs to meet the demands their bodies now depended on.

These sad stories are all too common in the United States, and it can be disheartening to read them. When the holidays come around, these people live quiet and sad lives, unable to shake the issues that have caused their lives to decline so much. However, some people rise to the occasion in the hopes of helping these afflicted individuals and are determined to bring light to their dark worlds.