The Magnification of Disappointment by the Habitual Intoxicant
Name Your Poison
Turning an Ordinary Day into a Melodrama
As we live each day, there are going to be ups and downs, but to an addict, the ups are ecstatic and the downs are epic tragedies. To the non-addict, life goes on. There always will be a tomorrow for better or worse. But the addict doesn't see it that way. It's all or nothing every day, as he or she reaches out for ecstasy and cringes at the thought of mundane simplicity that's so boring they could die.
Drugs broadly include alcohol, the socially accepted drink. Also, they might include prescription medicines, but under the care of a doctor there's far less chance of addiction.
The "Days of Wine and Roses" movie from long ago depicts a husband and wife, and their child, all affected by the alcoholic addictions of the spouses. Times of ecstatic joy are experienced, even when normal people are resting quietly, asleep in bed. But when it's impossible to obtain a drink, heroic efforts are made by the addicted until finally they get what they want.
The same would be true for the drug addict. He or she might want to be left alone. Life is better when alone with one's drug.
But why does life become an epic tragedy? It's because life always is imperfect or uncomfortable at times. For the addict, this is so unsettling that it seems gigantic and impossible to tolerate.
We are told by experts and everyone else that no one will quit until he or she actually makes a decision to do so. People can't be talked into quitting. Something has to happen to convince them that now is the best time to stop.
The addict usually will not stop simply because he or she has had enough and is tired of the routine. The routine itself is addictive, even the ups and downs together each day.
But when an event occurs that allows the addict to bridge the gap between his or her existence under the influence, and the real world of quiet endurance in which non-addicts dwell, that is the time when the addict must act to seize the moment and give up the drug or alcohol.
For example, if the addict is enduring the loss of a spouse through divorce, and suddenly has an opportunity to get back together, then this would allow the change to be desirable. Another example would be if a car crash occurs and the addict has injured an innocent person. This would be an excellent time to quit also.
As third party observers of a family member or friend addicted to drugs or alcohol, all we can do is hope and pray, keeping our fingers crossed that the person we care about will come out of this period in his or her life without some major tragedy occurring.
We have to endure with patience the sensitive and unreasonable nature of our loved one, while we wait for a turn of events that will allow an exit from drugs and alcohol.
The problem of drugs and alcohol with American youths has risen to the level of a major health problem. Now many young people experiment with alcohol and marijuana before age thirteen.
People most at risk are those with a family history of abuse of intoxicants. Those who experience undue depression also tend toward addiction as do people who feel they are not a part of the mainstream of society.
Poor judgment and failures in life are typical results from the addictive use of substances. People become argumentative and often lack energy to do things.
It's estimated that we have twenty million alcohol abusers in America today.
With statistics like these, it's time to do something definite about advertising glamorizing intoxication and what's passed off as "partying" but really is a shameful waste of human spirit. It's a tragedy and not a party.
Too often, there is a drug-addicted young person living in a household of responsible adults who love and care for that person. This situation cries out for a decision of some kind, but it seems there never can be any happy ending.
Such a problems has to be solved among the responsible family members only because the addicted youth has become incapable to thinking clearly.
Assuming the law enforcement people already have done their part in this case, the household adults now have to decide what can be done. Even the mental health professionals admit that no one can talk another person out of an addiction. That person has to decide when to quit.
But if the addict in the household isn't ready to quit, then either the rest of the people at home have to continue living with him or her, or else tell the addict to leave and live somewhere else.
Either one of those choices would be rough on the people who have to make them. If the addict goes on living at home, the household will have to endure disruptions that try the patience of anyone. But if he or she is expelled from the home, there will be lingering guilt and worry about the safety of the addicted loved one.
Therefore, he or she usually continues to live at home, and the adults continue to suffer. Waiting for the addict to give up the drug use is foolish because often that takes almost an entire lifetime, by which time the parents at home already are deceased.
The best course psychologically for those who must put up with an addict is to use their greatest wisdom (some do so by praying) to make a decision, then stick with that decision. There is no easy solution. For all concerned, it's tough and requires strength and endurance.
Carelessness With One's Own Life
The habitual intoxicant not only doesn't care that much about other people's lives, but also doesn't care too much about his or her own life either. In legal matters, anyone who doesn't care about the consequences of his or her actions or words might be considered legally insane or a menace to society, depending on whether compassion or fear is aroused by those actions or words.
Someone drunk in public, railing mad, evokes sorrow or sympathy. But someone driving recklessly incites anger and revenge. Police, being only human, are not immune to these normal reactions and might take the public drunk into a "drunk tank" cell overnight to let him or her sober up before being picked up by a family member and taken home. But the reckless driver, carelessly endangering others, is going to stay in jail longer, face stiff charges and penalties, and pay for his or her reckless abandon. Either type of intoxicant could be a family member in need of quitting whatever habit ended up causing this trouble.
There are many organizations looking to profit off the alcoholic or drug addict. Likewise, there are other organizations that would help such people for free. Depending on the circumstances, a family might request the assistance of such organizations with a problem drinker or addict.
Doctors use physical, medical, and psychological methods to treat addiction. There are rehab workers who believe that most people will quit with the help of some Higher Power. There are some who stress the environment as important enough to be part of the addictive impulse to get high, and will seek to steer the individual away from environments associated with the addiction. Community and family support always seem important in recovery.
A lot depends on the individual's own motivation to quit. Some treatments employ substitute drugs that are nonaddictive, in place of the substance primarily the focus of the intoxication. The person coming down from the habitual usage is said to "detox." With alcohol, the famous delirium tremens may necessitate a straight jacket. With drugs, there's a sad episode of being down and missing the regular high that became habitual.
Crime, violence, or sex may have become intertwined with the alcohol or drug use. This would be an example of the environment that would lead to relapse, which might have to be avoided during rehabilitation.
There are some therapists who would resort to painful procedures to bring about a radical change ending in the abandonment of the drug or alcohol habit. This may be used in severe cases when nothing else will help stop the behavior.
While alcoholism has often been viewed with more sympathy than drug addiction, since society condones moderate alcoholic consumption, the criminal justice system, rather than the medical treatment centers, seems to be the primary institution in society dealing with the drug addicts, although treatment is increasingly ordered by the criminal courts in addition to other punishment.
DUI (driving under the influence) is the most common public manifestation of the drug and alcohol abuse. The stiff penalties speak for themselves in showing society's perception of addiction in connection with driving a motor vehicle. It's the classic example of carelessness with one's own life in addition to the lives of others.
There is no easy solution or any single best way to get someone to quit. What works well for the guy next door might not work for your family member. But whatever works, within reason, is the right approach to solving the problem.
More by this Author
The strange numbers and letters stamped on jewelry tell a lot about value. For people unfamiliar with these markings, a quick reading will be educational.
The unfortunate homeless live without permanent addresses, but can a middle-class person do it too? There appears to be a trend in that direction.
What do Biblical words mean, and how can we connect them to modern living and everyday life? This article explains some writings found in the "Old" Testament.