Stereotypes are everywhere. We often slap labels on people based purely on a movie or news story we saw, or a single encounter with a person. Not only are stereotypes damaging to those being categorized, but they can be harmful to everyone, as we can see in the case of drug abuse.
Drug addicts come in all shapes and sizes. We may be getting better as a society at recognizing that drug addiction can happen to anyone, but still we would be quick to say that drug abuse is more common with certain types of people. For instance, “crack addict” may conjure up images of an African American living in the inner city, surrounded by criminal activity. A “binge drinker” may lead us to think of a member of a fraternity at a state university, wasting away their college years. “Gang members” or “drug lords” may be pictured as Hispanic males, illegally running their drug rings in poor areas.
As we know, drug abuse happens to all different types of people. From young teens all the way up to the elderly, there are many who abuse drugs. Those in poverty-stricken areas, highly paid businessmen, and stay-at-home moms can all make the mistake of trying and becoming addicted to drugs.
Providing Help to Everyone
The thing we need to do is recognize how widespread drug abuse is and work to dispel the stereotypes about it. A mom from the suburbs will have a hard time admitting to a drug problem, especially if people have stereotyped drug addicts as being bums on the street. It is hard to claim the title of drug addict, but even more so if the common view of such a person is so undesirable and far from the truth. In order to encourage and help people get treatment, it will be necessary to create more awareness about addiction and the different people it affects. It used to be a shock to people when they heard about a neighbor in the suburbs who was found to be a drug addict. But in today’s world, we shouldn’t be surprised that even the June Cleaves are in need of addiction treatment.
Providing Help Where Most Needed
As much as stereotyping can hinder drug addiction help, there are benefits to studying the demographics of addiction. It is helpful for us to learn that certain groups of people are more prone to drug abuse, especially if placed in certain circumstances, such as poverty or excess stress. It helps us to know what percentage of crimes are drug-related, and where these crimes are likely to be committed. When we know where the people are that are in the most need of help, we can tailor our programs to help these people. That’s why every year there are countless statistics released on drug abuse trends in our country.
We need to have a better understanding of drug abuse and the fact that it is becoming so prevalent in our society. We should be ready to provide help to those struggling with drug addiction, no matter where they find themselves in society.