We Vote Too
We Vote Too
“Why aren’t they talking more about addiction and how it’s affecting our nation?”-anonymous caller
It took me about 10 years of living so close to Daytona Beach to finally fall in love with NASCAR. It took this election and all the drama related to it to finally have me pay so much attention to election news coverage. This has been the most entertaining, frustrating, and dividing presidential election of my adult life. Un-friending and blocking rates on social media is soaring. I used to enjoy my ignorance, but the TMZ-like nightly news coverage and unprecedented sound bytes got me. I’m still not as educated in politics as I probably should be, but it has made me more aware and interested. It’s a start, right?
A recent caller to my radio program, The Couch Live, asked the above question and I too can’t understand it. The issues I keep hearing about are important, but it’s the same list as always; economy, healthcare, foreign relations, immigration, terrorism, education, gun control, environmental concerns, abortion, etc…you know the list. However, I wanted to take this time to not give any political slant or voice a preference, just simply highlight some awareness.
First, the economy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the costs related to the crime, loss of work productivity, and healthcare, due to substance abuse, is more than $700 Billion annually. We can’t arrest ourselves out of this problem and the average family doesn’t have the healthcare coverage or financial ability to afford quality care.
Second, I mentioned healthcare, so let’s dig a little more. According to NIDA, substance abuse is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B & C, lung disease, and mental health disorders. Don’t forget diabetes, infections, and MRSA. The affect addiction has on cancer alone is astronomical.
Third, is the gun control issue. According to the DEA, our national overdose rates are at epidemic proportion and higher than gun related deaths. Also, research shows that gun related incidents are often accompanied by alcohol, substance abuse, and mental health issues. This includes homicides and suicides. I’m not defending an amendment, or attacking one, I am just highlighting truth. Also, alcohol is known to be the greatest contributor to domestic violence. We aren’t seeking to outlaw alcohol, but more research and effective treatments for mental health conditions, trauma, and addiction is necessary.
The management and funding of our educational system is always under scrutiny. Teachers have been silenced and forced to color within the lines. Do you think we teach enough critical thinking, problem solving, self awareness, respecting others, or how to identify, manage, and process emotions? What’s the correlation between alcohol and drug use with class failure, dropout rates, and not attending higher levels of education? Let’s take it one step further, how about the correlation between the same when it’s the parent(s) who have the alcohol or drug problem? Many Fortune 500 companies use the Emotional Quotient tests to identify qualified applicants. Yet, we still use standardized tests to determine higher education readiness.
Supporting or overturning Roe v. Wade sparks all kinds of debate. What about the impact alcohol and drugs have on high risk sexual behavior, unwanted or teen pregnancies, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, birth defects, and abortions?
Lastly, the immigration issue. Finally, I heard at least one of the candidates talk about addiction. However, instead of staying focused on the identification and treatment for the problem, it appeared to be an opportunity to blame Mexico. Did we not just go through a “pill mill” crisis? How many addicts moved on to heroin after first becoming addicted to legal pharmaceuticals? They moved to heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to get. America is the largest consumer of many things including oil, so of course supply matches demand. Please stop using our disease for your agenda, unless you truly plan to help us within your agenda.
Anyway, I’m done. We need to defeat the stigmas associated with addiction, recovery, and mental health. If everyone accepted that many people with addiction include business executives, physicians, professionals, athletes, soccer moms, and even politicians, they would speak more about treatment efforts and prevention programs. Regardless of who wins, it’s up to us to help them know that we matter and we need their help. Our disease costs lives, family structures, futures, and money. The good news? Recovery is possible. It can be beat. If you or anyone you know needs help NOW, please call me at 407-721-5402 or visit www.NowMattersMore.org.