Considering How Well You Understand Addiction

drstiff

Addicts are often the most precious people in our lives,…

still, some hearts among us never bleed a single drop for an addict or junkie or (insert derogatory label). You can imagine what that’s like, right? That’s how much we were supposed to see and hear about addiction. To be addicted was bad, and represented bad things done by bad people. Some of us have seen and heard that crap for decades. Forever now, in real terms, most Americans have misunderstood addiction. Their contribution to fighting the burdens of addiction has been to ask; if they ever ask; “Why don’t those people who (obviously) need help just go and get it?”

Because an addict would have to be crazy to not know they need help, right? Well, some addicts are crazy as loons, and still more addicts think they’re crazy, or might be, or hope they are. We all have our stories.

Like this man I know. This guy’s life really put him through hell. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time many times, though all (mostly all?) voluntarily…whatever, he’s not big on pity. He flew high for longer than he cares to remember. There’s also a ton of stuff; of time; he has no idea what he was doing or where he was at. Too much is black. Sometimes he tried to induce the blackout, and at least most times, he’d been able to drown everything out.

He’s no angel, but he’s no dummy either. Though he may not have been aware of the cost at the time; all the times; the common sense and whatever else helped get him this far tells him things. The crap he’s ingested over the years was always going to extract a price on his body and his soul. But he wonders when it all started. He wonders aloud when thinks he’s alone (which is troublesome) about when he’d started paying his toll. Be warned, should you meet him, one of the surest ways to piss him off is to simply say to him…”get over it”. Addicts hate that. Often, part of what’s troubling them is something they don’t know with any certainty. They just know, with what feels like certainty…more trouble is out there. Addicts hate that too.

Certainly by anyone’s definition, the man presented above is a poster child for addicts, but there’s an and. And, so is anyone required to ingest a substance to survive, or to not go nuts, or avoid going crazy with pain or worse, right? Regardless of the substance you ingest, if you either die if you don’t take it, or the life you live dies, you’re an addict, right?

An addict is someone perceived by someone, perhaps even most of society, to be better off to themselves and to society if they’re medicated; chemically altered. Certainly in too many cases, the addict is the only person with that perception. Still, it’s a disservice to maintain the story that illicit drug use is the extent, or even bulk of our problem with substance, abuse or addiction.

Boomers, take away your parent’s ‘back pills’ and flush them down the drain. Inside a week you’ll be beating yourself up while you try to charm your mom or dad’s way into a new pain clinic. Like too many other adult children, you may find out your parent has been placed on alert at every Pharmacy for miles due to Pill Doctor shopping. You may hear the indignant tone in your dear mother’s voice when she recounts the horror of a pee test…for drugs…and she’s indignant because she failed the test. But this goes far beyond Old Folks.

Certainly addiction to substance is represented by all generations, though sadly, we’re now finding that some parts of one generation are over-represented in addiction, accidental overdose, and suicide. What I consider a National Tragedy is the high number of US Military Veterans among the walking dead and dying, in need of help.

But we’re all in this together. It makes sense that we’d go all in together, but we don’t or we haven’t yet. We’re stuck in a system I’ve long been bemoaning as broken with respect to Substance Abuse, Mental Health or Addiction. I’ve studied the problem, inside and from a distance. I’ve determined that for innumerable reasons, we represent our own worst enemies in the fight against addiction. We allow or insist that too much of the fight be conducted in the shadows of the world we share in the light of day. Some among us find light more mysterious than darkness.

As for that guy I know. The basket case. I know something about people like him, long before I know anything more substantial about them. He’s still wandering, wondering aloud when he thinks he’s alone. Many of them do.

“How?”

How do you get over the horror of an airplane crash, or get over the news of an airplane crash, and how do you do it every time an airplane crashes?

How do you get over the loss of a child, or the loss of a childhood?

How do yo get over crawling over dead bodies, or flames crawling over bodies?

How do you overcome the fear and pain of looking in the mirror?

How do you… … …so many things? How does anyone?

We start. Maybe we start by treating all those dependent on substance as Addicted Patients deserving of our help with managing their addiction. Maybe we try.

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