climate change

Will Climate Change Affect the Drug Epidemic?

In view of the recent horrific events of the Woolsey and Paradise fires in northern and southern California, experts are saying that climate change is making California’s wildfires worse. The devastation of losing one’s home, loved ones and/or livelihood to natural disasters is becoming an unfortunate reality for more people every year, and it will get worse if people continue to turn a blind eye to an imminent danger that threatens our mental, emotional, and physical health. Directly or indirectly, increased frequency of disasters with climate change exposes people to trauma, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, which are common risk factors that prime people for drug and alcohol abuse. In addition to those who have lost their homes and loved ones to the recent wildfires, several treatment centers have burned down, severely disrupting the lives of clients and staff members. Clients who were seeking treatment for substance abuse in Malibu had to relocate to different Airbnbs and hotels in various locations, some as far away as Santa Barbara, to continue their treatment. The Fourth National Climate Assessment report lists 12 summary findings which paint a grim picture of the future if we don’t take action now to deter the deleterious effects of climate change.

Climate change and the phenomenon of dislocation

Bruce Alexander, an eminent Canadian scholar, defines dislocation as “the physical, psychological, social, [and] cultural breakdown in the continuity of individual experience and the major root of addiction problems” (emphasis added). The effects of climate change on individuals are traced back to the phenomenon of dislocation in the physical and psychological sense of the term, according to a report published by Psychiatry Online Italia in August 2012. Some of those effects are as follows:

• Faulty coping mechanisms such as substance abuse
• Grief and anxiety
• Reduced personal autonomy
• Negative self-perception
• Social isolation
• Unstable housing
• Lack of access to services and employment
• Loss of connection to place
• Displacement of large populations

Addressing human perception on the topic of climate change: What can we do?

“I don’t see it,” said President Trump in his interview with Washington Post. The American Psychological Association (APA) addressed human perceptions such as this in their report, The Interface between Psychology and Global Climate Change. Trump’s statement is a reflection of the majority of American attitudes toward global warming, as evidenced by continuous dismissive behaviors despite environmental warnings over the years.

As citizens of the United States, where industrialization has played a major role in our daily lives, we each have had a part in contributing to the global warming effect every time we turn on the ignition in our cars, print numerous unnecessary pages of a report that may be discarded the next day, or throw away trash that could easily be recycled. Saving the Earth requires an extra minute or two of mindfulness when you pay attention to the everyday habits that contribute to climate change. There are 9 things you can do about climate change, according to an article published in Forbes.

As responsible citizens of modern civilization, we can choose to “see it” from the perspective of environmental scientists and do our part in saving our planet on a day-to-day basis. Do you see it?

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