There is one fact that is often overlooked when discussing the behaviors of an addict, drinker, or users of different kinds. First and foremost, the fact that anyone expects logic to take place is inaccurate. Logic does not live here. Logic and compulsion do not speak or interact in this case at all.
In fact, compulsion is the counteraction of logic. Although, intellectually, the user or the drinker may understand this, below this understanding is the drive and the need to overcome a feeling, a want, an idea, or an opinion that does nothing else but linger in the mind. Beneath the intellectual and logical understanding is the seemingly unchangeable belief system that cannot see life in any other way.
There is no magic word. There is no magic program. No matter how powerful a speaker is and no matter how impactful the message might be, a chemical imbalance is still a chemical imbalance.
Make no mistake, if addiction or obsessive compulsive disorder, clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, or alcohol dependency (and the list can go on) were a simple choice then no one would be depressed, the body count would not be what it is today and we would all be well.
I was asked
by an official, “What can we do to coerce people off drugs?”
He asked “What can we tell them?”
After the news of yet another overdose last night, I began to think about this. We are obviously at war. In many cases, we are at war with ourselves. We have to be because given all the information and with all the tragedy based facts that we hear on a daily basis, why is it that the numbers continue to increase?
If we know this is killing us and even if we know the average age expectancy in our country has been lowered due to the opiate epidemic, how is it the tragic numbers steadily increase and not decline?
Shouldn’t the fact that this can kill you be enough of a deterrent? Aren’t the staggering numbers and the statistics enough to persuade other options to feel better? Yet, the answer to these questions is even more staggering because the answer is a staggering “NO!”
I was part of an official initiative a few years back. As one of the specialists, I received an email from the officials running this operation. I was given a list of street brand names that are printed on the packages and told to inform my clients that several overdoses were linked to these bags.
In response, I replied with a one word answer. “No.”
I was informed by my supervisor once again to advise my clients of this problem, to which I replied, “No” again.
When asked to explain my answer, I advised that if this were me, or if this was me on the lookout for a spot to get high, the overdoses would be more of a marketing strategy. I would have been attracted, not warned.
I would have looked to find these brands because obviously, the heroin is that good. I would naturally assume the people that overdosed didn’t know how to handle their habit. I would automatically assume the danger, yes, but moreover, I would believe that this happened to other people and not me.
The tragedy is not a deterrent. As a matter of fact, I am of the opinion that the tragedy and the behavior, the rituals and the habitual routine is a mirrored image that speaks out in loud volumes about something within the user. It’s the lifestyle; it’s the strange attraction to a demonic idea that somehow cloaks itself in a disguise or beauty and ugliness. However, address the reason behind the attraction and then we might stand a chance in this fight.
I have spoken with several users that want to quit but never do. They talk about their detox plans. They think about their strategies and they push it off to another day.
Some are content the way they are, which is fine. Some are fine to have their habit, mainly keeping quiet and staying out of the public eye. Some are in pain management and simply cannot get away.
In answer to the question, “What can we tell someone to coerce them to get off of heroin or stop drinking?” I am of the belief that I don’t care who it is and what is said, until there is readiness and commitment; no one stops their behavior until they want to. The virus has to run its course. I believe this; however, I also believe in the idea that if we bring the body the mind could eventually follow.
I have seen people with arms so infected they faced amputation, and yet, they still used the drug that nearly took their arms. I know of a person with a usage that was so intense, a child nearly died by accidentally ingesting one of the bags his child found on the table. One would think this was enough. But no, it wasn’t. at least, not at first.
I tell you logic has no place here. Logic has no place in the mind of mental illness. Logic has nothing to do with compulsion and although logically and intellectually, the user or the drinker might understand their lifestyle is literally robbing them of everything, still, the road to self-destruction seems nearly impossible to abandon.
We have to stop trying to make sense of this. We have to stop trying to make sense of the fact that there is a strange romance to this destruction because in all actuality, the actions voice a feeling, thought, and need from a person that is downright losing to a spiral that will not stop until the bottom, or worse, until it ends.
The idea of anyone saying this way is the only way is simply inaccurate. If this is a war (and it is) then why would we expect to win this war by playing fairly?
Why are we only regarding the tragic statistics? Why aren’t we gathering more resources instead of keeping with the same modalities, which have been helpful to many, but overall, the failure rate is around 95%.
Why aren’t we accentuating that people can and do get well. I was part of a video which I will insert here. I gave a much longer interview, however, the focus on this video was tragedy based, not wellness based.
Long ago, I was told the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But yet, here we are. Addiction and alcoholism is far from new. And yet, we are treating this all the same way but expecting different results, which again, isn’t this the definition of insanity?
So what do i think works? I think anything can work. However, I think we cannot and should not limit ourselves to one single method of treatment. Below are some methods which I have seen proof of and that I can say are extremely helpful. There are more than a million stories out there. I cannot speak for any of them. I can only say what I have seen. I have seen both good and bad things from 12-step groups. However, I myself grew into my wellness plan with the help of a 12-step program.
What is C.B.T.?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works by changing attitudes and behavior by focusing on thoughts and beliefs to create an understanding on how the person behaves.
the root of our behavior has proven to be helpful in understanding the thinking
process, in which, if we can learn to change our behavior, we can learn to
change our thinking, which will also change our feelings.
I have seen this work well with depression and anxiety. More importantly, I have seen this help the root of the problem, which alleviated the symptoms of otherwise self-destructive behavior.
In my own
process, C.B.T. has helped me to challenge my own assumptions and trained
opinions. Through this process, I learned that the programs I fed into which
were at my subconscious level, always resulted in a programmed response.
C.B.T. helped me understand the limitations my personal biases held me to. This showed me more about my beliefs and the inaccuracies of my assumptions and insecurity. Put simply, once i understood the big bad wolf wasn’t so big and bad anymore, I began to feel less threatened.
What is M.A.T.?
Medically Assisted Treatment is used in addiction to talk and behavioral therapies to assist the mind with the chemical dependency as well as soothe the receptors which may overreact to simple things that can create or cause urges.
Medically assisted treatment is more than just one medication. It has changed and improved greatly over the years.
There are several options which are helpful in reducing the pressure and the mental tailspins that create personal misinterpretations and cause hiccups in the road to wellness. Put simply, since dependency involves the chemistry in our brains, without equalizing the imbalance, wellness can be impossible.
We have to meet people where they are at. If we are going to make a move in this fight then we have to take the fight to the people and meet them where they are.
In my opinion, we need to focus more on empowerment. We need to find more methods of personal encouragement. We need more advocacy. We need more resources which are not limited to a “One-size-fits-all” mentality.
There are several pathways to recovery. we need to allow these methods to become more systemic in our society.
We are losing people on a daily basis. And this is not just opiates. Alcohol kills more people than the opiate epidemic, yet this fact continues to be grossly unaddressed. Cigarettes kill more than both alcohol and opiates combined, and yet, the numbers continue to increase. What does this say about us?
One of my clients that attended my empowerment class in a county jail that I visit every Sunday. He wrote a book about his life while incarcerated. He named the book after a discussion we had during one of my motivational programs. He called it “Ban the pacifier.”
I cannot speak for him or his writing nor can I say a publisher will pick this up. Nevertheless, he wrote something and made use of his time. I call that amazing
We were discussing the gateway drugs. Some people mentioned alcohol. Some people mentioned marijuana. I told them I would take this one step beyond.
I told them about aspirin. I told them about the first time we had the ability to express ourselves and tell about a headache. I told them how Mom used to give me baby aspirin, in which, I was taught to take something if I didn’t feel well.
Even further back, think about this: Infants cry, and when they do we put a pacifier in their mouths to calm them down.
Infants cry. And we might not always understand why or what the discomfort it. Rather than solve the unknown problem which is the root of the crying, we put a pacifier in the child’s mouth to sooth them.
We immediately treat the symptom. Therefore at a young age, we are exposed to the lesson to use an outside source to cure an inside dilemma.
I believe in the mind’s need to achieve balance. Addiction or any sort of use dependency is simply the mind trying to balance the scales and feel better. everything we do is to honor a thought, feeling, need, or want.
We are trying to pacify us and keep the mind at peace. However, by using an outside source to appease an internal dilemma, we find the effects are fleeting and short lived. Sobriety, or better yet, to achieve wellness is simply learning to balance the scales from within and instead of and without using an outside source.
We literally have to unlearn so many of our old behaviors and default settings to rebuild and rewire our thinking.
At this point, I am a fan of whatever helps. In whichever way we can fight back, we cannot pacify this war against mental illness. We have to take this fight to a new level and attack from every possible direction. And to be honest, no, this will not save everyone. No, this will not help them all. However, more avenues of wellness is more helpful than limiting treatment to only a certain few modalities.
There is no one-size-fits-all anymore. Since we all have our own genetic makeup, we all have our own unique chemistry; therefore, we need to be treated on a unique and individual basis.
On a personal note:
I wish I was there for you (and you know who you are.)
I’m sorry that I couldn’t be. Still though, this does not make me want to quit. Instead, it just makes me work harder