Community: The Antidote To Drug Addiction

The Value of a Village In Healing An Increasingly Drug-Reliant World

America touts itself as the land of the free, but it’s becoming the home of the bound.

18.4 million Americans suffer from illicit drug-use disorders.

Given an increasingly disconnected and materialistic society, people are desperately seeking ways to escape past traumas and current problems. Many do not have the mental stability or spiritual grounding to go “within.” So they search outside of themselves for resolve and often arrive at the doorsteps of drugs & alcohol. Often, once illicit substances are resorted to, abusers are at risk for becoming further isolated from community. And it is my opinion, and that of other wellness advocates (see below video with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford), that community and love can be a balm besting any drug or alcohol in the world.

Increasing Number of People Initiating Drug & Alcohol Use

Results from the 2020 Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Let’s look at cocaine initiates. Of the 489,000 who initiated cocaine use in 2019, approximately 70 percent were between ages 18 and 25. I aim to make sense of how there has never been a time in the history of mankind in which we are more connected, yet isolated. Our isolation is a driving force to seek resolve in something outside of ourselves which can make us happy, whole or numb to it all.

Being Connected & Isolated Simultaneously

There are 302.35 million social media users in the United States as of January 2023. And as you might guess, the same group which is rushing to cocaine has the highest usage share of its population. 84% of 18–29-year-olds use social media.

So how is it that people can be both socially connected, and suffering so greatly? The ground-breaking Rat Park study conducted in the 1970s by American Psychologist Dr. Bruce Alexander, gives us some insights into animal behavior applicable to humans.

To determine if rats in a cage overindulged and fatally overdosed from heroin or cocaine consumption due to the drug itself or being isolated in a cage, Dr. Alexander experimented by freeing the rats in a park. The rats had access to two bottles, one filled with plain water, the other with a drug-laced substance.

Given the chance to “roam, play, socialize and have sex,” amongst one another, the rats overwhelmingly chose the bottle with plain water. “Even when they did imbibe from the drug-filled bottle, they did so intermittently, not obsessively, and never overdosed. A social community beat the power of drugs.”

Since 1MM individuals have died from drug overdoses since 1994, it’s clear that many people, poor, rich, black, white, Hispanic, women & men, non-binary, have turned to illicit drugs for the promise of being transported away from pain, loneliness and isolation. These same feelings trap abusers and push them farther away from their families. Shame keeps them there, and reiterates and increases their abuse because they don’t feel anyone cares about them.

To whom in your life can you draw closer, and whom can you draw closer to you? Is there anyone in your life who may be susceptible to introversion, harming themselves and/or drug misuse whom your love could support, TODAY?

If, like me, you’ve come from families of addiction, you may have trauma, or just be exhausted, and not feel like reaching out. But, can you find a way to offer some tough love and keep your emotions distant while showing up for them? Traumas unresolved are a catalyst for substance abuse.

Listen to Dr. Arnold James & Licensed Clinical Social Worker Candice Sorapuru as they share insights on the correlation between trauma & substance abuse.

If YOU are the one seeking to be teleported out of your pain, can you try outreach to your community before and in place of drugs? There is often value in knowing that you are not alone.

As stated in the above video, healing is communal. Find your community. People indeed make the world go round. And without knowing that they are loved, the one you love, or maybe you, may reach for a substance as a substitute for community, one last time.

Materials Cited:

1 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)

2 Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

3 Demand Sage, Social Media Users — How Many People Use Social Media In 2023, Jan 4, 2023,,74.2%25%20of%20adults%20using%20it.

4 Psychiatric Times, What Does Rat Park Teach Us About Addiction, June 9, 2019,



The O Blog | Marketing POV by Olivia F. Scott

Olivia is a C-Suite Marketing Exec & Founder. An NYU & Loyola Professor, she has led mktg at Carol's Daughter, VIBE, Live Nation, Ogilvy & more for 25+ years.

Recommended from Medium


See more recommendations