Update: This article gets people upset on occasion and yet no one who has gotten upset has responded to what I’m actually saying in this piece. Please read it carefully. It’s not talking about YOU. It’s talking about HUMAN BEINGS in general. Addiction is a societal issue. Consumerism and capitalism is dependent on the addict in everyone. Recognizing this fundamental issue with our society is part of a much deeper social commentary that this speaks to. Gabor Mate and others speak to this expertly if you’d like to do further research. Our society needs healing, it’s not just particular individuals who need to heal. We are all connected. Inextricably so. This argument can be true and we can also note real differences in how people use drugs. There is no argument there on my part. Language is inherently imprecise and context must always be considered.
This is a simple argument of inclusion. Arguments that concentrate on differences can be true simulataneously. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!! 😀
There is an argument that comes up frequently in the benzo withdrawal community that attempts to differentiate those with dependency issues stemming from legal prescription drug use from dependency stemming from illegally procured drugs. While there are undoubtedly differences in the experience between the two groups there are also many similarities.
Since a lot of so-called “street addicts” do take benzos it’s a sore spot among a lot of benzo folks who had their drugs legally prescribed. They do not want to be associated with street addicts. I find this posturing unfortunate. It actually breaks my heart. I’ve worked with addicts of all kinds. People with legal and illegal habits both. Some differences are apparent yes, but I’ve seen far more to convince me of our similarities rather than our differences. One can spend time concentrating on these differences if one wants to — many people are doing that, no doubt. I choose not to. We all have different paths and stories. We are all unique. Healing though in large part involves taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives regardless of how we come to find ourselves in the clutches of drug dependency.
The last time I saw someone making the above defensive argument in a comment thread (we are not addicts!!) I responded with the following comments (with some edits for this post):
I think calling all of us addicts is quite appropriate. The drug issue in this country is the same among all drug users. It stems from a fear of feeling feelings. This is learned societally wide and is not about blame…or about making anyone less than or better than…it’s everywhere. If it’s not drugs it’s shopping, eating, sex…many things can numb people out, not just drugs.
Some people who are prescribed their drugs like the term accidental addict to differentiate from those who get their drugs illegally. However, I maintain that no one sets out to get addicted whether it’s done legally or illegally. Those of us with health insurance and access to doctors do it legally…others who do not have those resources do it in other ways. There is sometimes (not always, but often) a lot of privilege involved in being a legal addict. This is something that really needs to be recognized and deconstructed.
Whether all of this is conscious or not is what is key.
Everyone can recover and thrive once they come off the drugs and start learning to listen and deeply respond to their body/minds and spirits. If we, as adults, continue to put those pills in our mouths once they’ve been prescribed we are on some level choosing to numb ourselves out. I did it for 20 years. Yes, MDs are in large part responsible but no one sat with a gun to my head in my home once I started taking them. We need to wake up and teach our children to know their bodies and minds. Then they won’t be as easily subject to the manipulations of their MDs etc. There are people who do intuitively know to not go this route to begin with…we can teach other generations to accept their humanity and learn skills to cope with difficult emotions from an early age.
The other day I posted a link to resources for meditation for children. Start now with your kids. Teach them good skills. And may I remind you…we need to have them to teach them. So lets learn them too if we need to: Meditation for Kids: Books, Articles and Other Resources
Gabor Mate does an excellent job considering how Western modern human beings are all subject to addiction of one kind or another. I’ve shared his work here several times. Our capitalistic and consumer driven culture depends on the addict in all of us.
And, learn to feel your feelings: the PRACTICE of embracing what is
Update for clarification 2014: What I write above is not to deny that psychiatry is also coercive. I was coerced and forced to take drugs early on. I was broken by the coercive system. Still I will not abrogate all my power to that. I am willing to find that, just like all of us, I too am part of this society and I have a responsibility to find my power and own it. I cannot do this without recognizing my part in the abusive dance society often takes part in. We’re all in this together. Seeing the whole picture is complex. And not everyone will fall into having the same experiences.
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts — a book by Gabor Mate