There are many times when I feel like a broken record that repeats itself over and over again. Believe it or not, even if I’m just sitting on my couch visiting with people, the subject of substance abuse ALWAYS emerges. When it does, I try NOT to engage and let people’s opinions be what they are. But, when I hear someone say, “Man, if she could stop using that crap, she’d be able to get her life together” I can’t help BUT to engage.
“Well, what’s going on?” I asked and awaited the typical story of lies and manipulation because of a “drug.” It didn’t take long; the person I asked then shared with the entire group of people gathered to eat turkey about how his daughter keeps asking for money so that she could get more pills and yada yada yada. To tell you the truth, the “yada yada yada” isn’t about the drug. More than likely, the drug use masks the real issue.
But if there’s one thing Addiction does, it’s that it sucks people around the addict into a drama that mistakenly creates focus on the drug and distracts from the root cause of a person’s NEED to use. In this case, pills are nothing more than a red herring that throws everyone off the scent of the core problem that needs attention. Look, substances are nothing but chemicals in various forms that alter people’s personality in various ways. They aren’t good or bad, they’re just chemicals (well, except for crystal meth: that stuff is pure evil and needs to be eradicated from the face of the Earth…).
I’ll even go one step further, it really isn’t whether or not someone uses a given substance; the issue is HOW someone uses a given substance that indicates the real problem in someone’s life. For example, if someone turns to a given substance to handle stress, then, regardless of the substance, the inability to negotiate stress is the problem. The substance use can be managed, but the inability to handle and resolve stress may be a harder egg to scramble (or unscramble).
Really, (and here comes the broken record), anxiety is the core symptom: the cause of the anxiety is the real clue in the hunt for an addiction’s root cause. Anxiety triggers compulsion which then triggers an automatic behavior, whether it’s ingestive or process focused. So, if you want to engage someone’s substance abuse: QUIT BLAMING THE SUBSTANCE! The real problem can’t be solved while you’re focusing on a chemical. Ok, learn about the way a substance impacts the body; learn about the culture that associated with a substance, but, then, focus on the person’s anxiety and you will find the real problem that you can then help solve.
Or you can make yourself feel better by blaming an inanimate object and deflecting from the real issue.