America’s Addicted to Addiction

Boston, Massachusetts (TFC) – In today’s society consumption and addiction are the norm. We are both subliminally and consciously programmed to believe that this behavior is not only acceptable but desirable.

Image Source: Todd Huffman, Flickr, Creative Commons Needle Exchange The contents of a needle exchange kit.

Image Source: Todd Huffman, Flickr, Creative Commons
Needle Exchange
The contents of a needle exchange kit.

While some people are neurologically wired in a way that makes them more prone to addictive habits there are just as many who develop addictive behaviors due to traumatic life experiences. Although the way in which the addiction manifests itself (gambling, drinking, substance abuse, sex, food, etc.) does vary in both method and intensity the outcome is ultimately the same.

What I’ve come to realize over the years is that rather than treating the underlying causes of the addictions many prefer to simply pacify themselves with their vice(s) of choice. This too is socially acceptable and the system encourages this behavior. The doctors and psychiatrists are the biggest drug pushers in the country. Big Pharma is earning billions of dollars as a result of the ever increasing clientele. It’s far simpler (and far more lucrative) for them to pacify you; to create or feed into your addictive behaviors rather than to heal you.

This is also one of the reasons why we have the largest prison population in the world. If the jails and prisons had to release all non-violent offenders who are locked up for drug and alcohol offenses the percentage would drop dramatically. (2014: Fifty percent of federal inmates and 16% of state prisoners were convicted drug offenders.)The prison industrial complex would suffer a monetary loss so great that it would be felt throughout; Needless to say that the Thin Blue Line and the legal system will continue to feed into it in order to prevent that.

It truly baffles me as to why people don’t care enough to change this system. So often there is such a level of disconnect between the different facets of society. And because those segregated ways have been, for the most part, ingrained into our psyches we think that this is okay. Rather than reaching out to one another, we shun those who are different or who are struggling. Refusal to imagine yourself in their shoes and to examine their underlying pain is what has caused such a divide in society throughout the ages. This subconscious fear that another’s misfortune is somehow contagious. This has to stop and we as a whole need to make a conscious, concentrated effort to change this behavior, on both sides.

We also need to implement a system in which those who are struggling with their addictions can receive treatment regardless of activity or rather, inactivity. If an individual is seeking help for their addiction and being denied due to the lack of active use of their substance of choice, there’s a real problem. When there are 7 overdoses over the course of 7 hours and you’ve got an addict seeking help so they don’t become number 8, the very last thing that your hospital or detox center should be doing is turning them away because they’re currently straight; telling them that they must use in order to be receive treatment.

Whether you are the person who suffers from addiction or you are attempting to help someone who is, do NOT, under any circumstances, give up. Some centers have ridiculous rules, however, there are plenty who work in recovery centers, hospitals, and the mental health field who are willing and able to help so please do not allow yourself to be deterred in the event that you first encounter those who are not willing/able to help in your particular situation.

If you are relying on your addiction to cope with your emotional turmoil, to numb the pain, to block out your life (past or present) then you’ll never heal. You will never be able to move past it. If you ask for help you should be provided with the appropriate treatment, whether you are already locked up or not.

There needs to be a greater emphasis on coping and healing rather than numbing. Besides, medication can harm just as easily as it can help. Numerous doctors prescribe endless lists of meds in an effort to quell their patients’ symptoms yet they fail to treat the cause. If you do not heal emotionally it’s going to affect you physically in the end, or it will seep into other aspects of your life until it becomes all-consuming.

Those who choose to drown their sorrows in alcohol or to take a temporary escape with drugs do not always do so consciously; or not initially at least. For some it starts out as an escape from whatever is going on internally. It’s a Band-Aid of sorts. A minor buffer that once removed reveals the wound that is still present beneath. You can mask it and hope that it will go away eventually or you can examine your wounds and choose to treat them.

What began recreationally or as a prescribed buffer becomes a leaning post. Once you are able to accept the fact that you are doing this and you’ve consciously acknowledged it then you as an individual must reflect upon the root cause of your actions. You cannot be afraid to ask for help; whether it’s from your family and friends, your physician or a licensed professional. You must be willing to admit that your addiction has become more than you are capable of handling on your own. Be honest with yourself and whomever you are reaching out to about the underlying conditions otherwise your treatment will be ineffective.

If you can’t be honest with yourself you will not be successful in healing. Surround yourself with a good, solid support team too. When seeking professional, help don’t hesitate to request an initial meeting before scheduling an appointment for therapy. You need to ensure that this person is someone with whom you will feel comfortable confiding in. If you’re not at ease speaking with them it is unlikely that you will follow through with treatment there. Don’t be afraid to meet with a few (or several) before deciding.

One important thing to remember is that whatever you allow will continue. So, whether that pertains to your own abuse of self via addiction or someone else abusing you, the statement holds true. It’s your life and the quality of your time here on this planet is up to you. Forget about what you’ve been led to believe is normal. If you aren’t living a fulfilling life that brings contentment to your very core then you need to begin the healing process with that goal in mind.

Make no mistake: Life is an unpredictable adventure. We each experience our own individual journey and yes, each journey does begin with a single step. No adventure is without risk, nor is it without reward. As wonderful as life can be there are going to be trials, tribulations and tragedies at one time or another in each of our lives. Some things are out of our control and all we can do is work through the aftermath. Pick up the pieces and do our utmost to move on. Many years ago I remember being told that without darkness there can be no light. I disagreed and brushed that sentiment aside. It was only later that I eventually came to realize that she was right. Without the darkness and the pain that I’ve experienced I never would’ve truly appreciated the light, the joyful times. I, like so many often do, would’ve taken the good times for granted. Rather than allowing the darkness of your past (or present) to break you down and make you into anything less than the wonderful person that you are, you need to embrace it. Not in a negative way though. Seek acceptance and allow that to strengthen you as you heal, and hopefully are able to move past it. This doesn’t mean that what has hurt you is okay or that you need to forget about it. You just need to know that you are stronger than whatever has happened and you are so much more than your pain and addiction. This is only one chapter of your life. You are the author and the pen is in your hand. What will the next chapter hold in store? The choice between a happily-ever-after or a tragedy is entirely yours.