Victims of Addiction and the Need for Empathy

With feelings of ensuing stress and panic, students often look for a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, some students may turn to unhealthy coping strategies such as vaping, drinking and drug use.

  According to the Child Crime Prevention Center, 80 percent of minors in juvenile detention centers were arrested due to possession of an illegal substance. An estimated 2.4 million minors are victims of addiction and only 68,000 receive treatment.

When it comes to showing support to a struggling addict, compassion and empathy is key. According to Psychology Today, “compassion is the key to helping someone with an addiction problem”.

Treatment center 7 Summit Pathways, cites that “showing compassion” as the first step into helping a struggling addict, the organization expresses “Addiction is a disease. Normally, we wouldn’t fault someone with a physical disease, like diabetes or cancer; instead, we would likely be compassionate and willing to help them survive their illness. Addiction deserves the same compassion and understanding. Recognize that addiction isn’t a character flaw or a choice, but rather a disease.”

7 Summit Pathways reminds it’s important not to “shame or criticize” an addict. “The cause of addictions isn’t so black and white, so there’s never really just one thing to blame. Most importantly, the person with the addiction is not at fault for the disease.

Get Smart About Drugs, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of drug use reports, “Teens who perceive little risk in using drugs are more likely to use drugs. Teens may also use drugs or alcohol to: relieve boredom, feel good, forget their troubles and relax, satisfy their curiosity, ease their pain, feel grown up, show their independence and belong to a specific group.”

   The organization also cited common “risk factors” among young users. Common risk factors the organization cited  include: “low grades or failure in school, victim of bullying or cyberbullying low self esteem, permissive parenting, parent or older sibling drug/alcohol use, living in a community with a high tolerance for smoking, drinking, or drug use among youth, attending a school without strict rules for tobacco, alcohol, or drugs and inconsistent enforcement for breaking those rules, belief that there is little risk in using a drug.” 

These risk factors often lead someone to drug use and if a person is dealing with one of these issues they are more than likely dealing with several, which may cause them to reach addict status. 

 When helping a struggling addict it is far more important to show empathy and compassion villainizing the addict will further worsen the problem causing the person to believe there might be no hope left for them. 

  On the contrary, an addict did choose to start using, however, they did not choose to live with the disease of addiction. It is important to reach out to a struggling student and offer resources.

        D.C. Everest has several available options for students who are concerned about themselves or others. On the DC Everest website there is a tab to sign up to meet with a counselor, social worker or liaison officer.

    On the back of each student I.D. There are several numbers to call or text if you are struggling. The numbers are as follows: 988- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255)- National Suicide Prevention Life Line and 715-845-4326- North Central Care Crisis Hotline. 

      If your friend was struggling with any form of addiction, you would offer them help. 

At our high school we must embrace the “E” for “excellence” and treat everyone like your friend, no matter what they are dealing with from addiction to mental health issues, empathy is the most important factor in helping someone.