At some time in our www meanderings we have all come across something on wikipedia that has either provided great insight or at least informed us a little better than before we stopped by on our way to somewhere else or is it just me; it is like falling down a rabbit hole..
I get the idea of wikipedia where anyone can upload information and others can edit said information. What I do not get is how something like the article – on which this post focusses – gets to exist at all. I am pretty sure this facile seven point strategy to Overcome Drug Addiction is someone’s attempt at helping those affected by drug dependence. However, when I saw it, I laughed out loud.
Overcoming drug addiction is not a matter of working through seven steps and it is not about self discipline and it is difficult and it is a big deal. The quote below focuses on the social cost of addiction – which is high – and makes becoming abstinent from drugs and alcohol sound as easy as one, two, three all the way to seven.
” Drug abuse is a social menace that is not only causing health danger but also affecting our health care system. To over come drug abuse is not difficult but it’s not easy, it’s subjective. Here are some things you can do. There is no time frame; this is subjective. “
The two drug users with whom I spent considerable time today are neither a social menace, nor are they a public health danger, what does that even mean. They are smart enough to realise they need support to kick their drug habit. In their cases these seven steps do not come close to addressing the tiniest aspects of their recovery pathway.
- Change the Trend The suggestion is to change something small, like not having a cigarette or whatever when you first wake up, do something different. Experiencing intense cravings and urges to use at high risk times is more difficult to manage than simply deciding not to have that next hit. If it were as easy as delaying gratification (giving in to cravings/urges to use) drug counsellors would be out of a job.
- Friends spend time with non-drug using friends. When people have been using for any length of time all their friends are drug users. A major barrier to long term abstinence from drugs and alcohol is establishing new social networks with non-using members of the community. The stigma associated with drug use is pervasive in all classes of society (yes we still exist in a a class society) and perpetuates social exclusion and discrimination so making new friends becomes an even more onerous endeavour.
- Get out on the scene “Go to a bar you wouldn’t normally go to, and flirt with everyone, get into a relationship, say yes to friends thereby avoiding your problems”. Are you kidding me! Go to a bar? Flirt with everyone? Avoid your problems?
- Change your wardrobe “Appearance is everything”. Most people with a serious addiction to drugs and/or alcohol feel fortunate to have the clothes they stand in. Appearance is the very last thing on their agenda. In fact those who are drug/alcohol dependent are less concerned about their wardrobe and appearance than they are about finding somewhere to sleep tonight.
- Get constant reminders from family and friends What family and friends? Freedom from addiction is about relocating one’s locus of control from external to internal; it is about taking responsibility for ourselves in every aspect of our lives including being able to self-identify and validate personal attributes. The suggestion we seek constant validation from external sources undermines recovery and is disingenuous.
- Remember “By changing all the little things you can retain yourself but help yourself break a habit.” Actually all the little things make absolutely no difference whatsoever to a person debilitated by addiction. The changes that make a difference are the big issues: facing your problems, changing inappropriate behaviours, working extremely hard to find and establish new social networks, finding new coping strategies, discovering your own strengths (rather than relying on others to give you the warm fuzzies about yourself)
- Enjoy yourself Looking forward to trying this one out. Can’t wait to see my client’s face when I tell him to enjoy himself while he is homeless, has no family connections, relies on welfare, has no friends, he was robbed yesterday of everything he possessed and his children are in foster care … Go hard mate, enjoy yourself!.
Drug addiction is defined as a chronic disease affecting the brain. Because no one shares identical physiology, everyone’s brain is unique and it follows that just about everyone is different when it comes to addiction. Drugs affect different people in different ways. There is no one size fits all as far as addiction goes. It is the same for ‘treatment’.
In an effort to find something kind to say about the seven steps to overcoming drug abuse I wonder whether if the target audience is perhaps those whose drugging and drinking behaviours have degenerated somewhat and simply need a quick fix, like a kick in the behind. I cannot believe this is seriously directed towards anyone with a bone fide drug addiction.
I did leave feedback on the website …