Thursday, May 3, 2012

This I Know For A Fact...

I recently met a young woman who is 31 years old, a mother of 8 year old twin boys one of whom died four months ago due to an accident. Since the accident the woman has been taking ever increasing, excessive amounts of anti anxiety meds and drinking alcohol heavily. Got to the point of a psychotic depression, voices telling her about friends that are evil and God assuring her she did nothing wrong.  Amazingly sad and, as is the case with a despairingly high percentage of addicts and mentally ill, not likely to end easily or well. Sometimes there is justice, sometimes there is mercy, sometimes there is neither.  As an aside, I want to add that she has a noticeably dignified countenance, a kind of sparkle and smile that would be described in anyone else as attractive but under her circumstances seems regal.

Here is an observation: There are lots of reasons people use drugs but all those reasons can be put into two categories -  to increase pleasure or to avoid pain. And pain and pleasure can be sub divided into three categories: physical, emotional and spiritual.

Substances can enhance pleasure and diminish pain and the vast majority of humans use chemicals (like alcohol) in moderation and are able to control their use and for them moderate ingestion helps them relax, take the edge off,  make them a little looser socially, feel more creative and connected, lessen pain etc.  - all with no negative consequences. But there are a percentage of humans who, for whatever reason, cannot control their use. (By the way, while pleasure is a common reason to use chemicals it seems to me that most addicts use chemicals primarily to lessen pain (whether because addicts'  pain is greater than most people can bear (as is the case of the woman I mentioned above who lost her son, or because addicts are more sensitive to or have some sort of diminished capacity to tolerate pain, I do not know). Those people become hooked and after a while use not to get high but just not to feel sick.  Their  lives are taken over by a compulsion that will, unless stopped, eventually kill them and before they die will make them and everyone who loves them suffer horribly.  They can be helped. (I know this for a fact). And if they get sober I believe they (and those who love them) often appreciate their sobriety and are grateful for the everyday in ways that are, not for nothing, described as miraculous (I know this for a fact as well).  

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