Los Angeles High School of the Arts

The blanket of drug use

Drug addicts are commonly stereotyped as “junkies” in mainstream society, though, their situations are often blindsided despite the complexity of their reasoning behind drug use. Being the youngest from a big family, my mind flooded with questions. When I was 9 years old, I remember seeing my brothers receiving abusive discipline from my father and of course punishing kids back then was brutal.

My father received phone calls from their school saying, “Your child was involved in a fight,” or “We’re concerned about your son’s academic performance,” and of course disciplining kids back then was brutal. My brothers were acting unusual and our father noticed. Our father became suspicious and eventually our neighbor told him that they saw my brothers using drugs. He was upset and disappointed, but hearing my parents argue on the phone and hearing my brothers reasoning, it became clear to me why they did it; they had been holding this grudge towards our father because they felt like no one looked out for them. They did not feel cherished and supported enough. My brothers felt very independent as if they had to face the world alone and had no one to guide them. My brothers felt that our father gave up on them, so they took it as an excuse to follow this dark path.

Despite the narrow view that society has on drug addicts, interviews point towards more nuanced situations in that people’s lives can deeply affect their susceptibility to drug use. In an interview, LAHSA (Los Angeles High School of the Arts) teacher Mr. Peña said that he believes that people use drugs because they reminisce about the neglect, resentment, and disappointment they experienced in their childhood. He also stated that drugs are what help people to have this “temporary” fantasy where they are free from these hurtful emotions. Therefore, they are eager to use drugs consistently, which leads to “a loss sense of hope” where they impetuously do things that can harm them.

Drug addiction is nonhereditary but can be “epigenetic,” so majority of people who are affected are teens due to their stage of brain development. According to drugabuse.gov, the prefrontal cortex of teens between ages 14-19, which is responsible for complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision-making, and moderating social behavior are not fully developed until ages 21-24. Due to this, teens are more likely to make impaired decisions and impulsive actions making them incompetent. In addition, regions of the brain contain dopamine, which is responsible for sending signals to the other nerve cells. So, when people consume drugs it creates a flood of dopamine that causes the “high,” it affects our movement, emotions, motivation, and cognition. In result, people tend to want more of this feeling to temporarily escape their reality.

Drugs are like band-aids that covers the wound but never heals it. It is the same comparison of drugs users having this temporary fantasy trying to escape their reality. If people were only able to tear this band-aid off and finally face the formidable obstacles that painfully affect them, it would have probably made a different impact on their lives.