Female Doctor and Nurse check vitals on unconscious male patient in blue hospital room with medical equipment

“The Damage of Addiction”

A winning essay from our Brighter Future Scholarship contest

Growing up in the suburbs of Greater Boston, I did not realize addiction was so close to my personal life until I was in middle school. When I talked to my dad about a local Substance Awareness & Prevention event I attended, he told me that he was once an addict to Crack Cocaine.  

I have a very “normal” family with two working parents, my younger brother and me. My extended family is also around the Boston area. In the stories told by my uncle and aunties, my dad was thin and tall when he was young. He was athletic and an excellent skier. He played basketball in high school and football in college.  

Today my dad has a list of health problems, ranging from obesity to asthma to heart problems. I remember he went into hospital for extended periods, multiple times when I was in elementary school. My mom had to ask family friends to watch us when she was with my dad in the hospital. Although I don’t remember the exact reason my dad was in the hospital for, I can still recall the uneasiness surrounding my brother and me, not knowing how serious my dad’s illness was.  

What happened to my father from the time that he was a healthy young athletic to the patient who is frequently in hospitals was a two-year history of drug addiction. My dad’s drug abuse started shortly after he graduated from college. Within two years, he became an addict, consuming more than 2 oz of Cocaine every day. He was arrested and jailed for drug related charges. He was able to bounce back, was actively involved in treatment, and went to AA meetings. To this date, he was drug free for over 35 years.  

The addiction not only damaged his health, it also delayed his life for a good ten years. It was hard for him to find job with the arrest history. By the time he re-established himself and ready to start a family, he was already in his 40’s.  

My dad’s experience about addition only rarely comes up in family discussion. When he does bring it up, he would repeat many times that he would have died if he did not quit drugs. He would then emphasize it was very difficult to quit (with only roughly 0.1% success rate), and that he was very proud about being sober for so long. The thought that we could lose him to addiction always make me feeling sick. I am glad that my Dad was able to win the fight, and become drug free now. I am glad that there was treatment to help him recover.  

Reflecting on my dad’ drug addiction history, I feel that we as a society should have more positive support for people under rehab treatment. There are tremendous amounts of sad stories about people losing loved ones to addiction. But we rarely hear the stories about people who successfully complete rehab and become drug free. While all of the damages from drug addiction are real in my dad’s experience, his story is also a case of successful a rehab. I want to tell people that there are success stories like my dad’s out there. Have faith in rehab treatment and don’t give up. 

Receiving the Brighter Future College Scholarship will help me to achieve my goal of studying the economic impacts of addiction. In addition, I am interested in finding out the best way to leverage economic incentives to combat drug addictions. These topics are complicated and require college level education and research. A scholarship not only helps offset the rising cost of the college tuition, it also encourages me to pursue my goal. 

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