If you post something on Facebook about addiction-I’ll wait, literally. You will get 2 kinds of answers: “They should just go ahead and kill themselves, they’re a waste of a human being anyway” (I’ve literally had someone post that on my timeline, or, “People can get sober, you know. I did it and lives are not a waste”. However you feel on the subject, we’re going to discuss both and the science behind them. We also have a war on Opiates and the first War on Drugs didn’t work so, strategically, probably not the best plan.
Let’s examine “the choice” ideology for a moment. The first choice to try any drug is a gamble. Either you’re watering a “meth tree” of sorts, or you’re simply trying a drug, it doesn’t do much for them, so they don’t do it again. Let’s say they do try it again and again and again. Is it a choice at that point, or has it already become an addiction? Everyone I know has tried some type of addictive substance at some point. As I sit here, smoking a cigarette (YES, I know I should quit, Duh), I think of all of the things (outside of the substance abuse therapy I’ve spent years doing: cocaine, crack, meth, pain pills, benzos (Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, etc.), alcohol (find me someone you know who has never drank alcohol, especially more than once), marijuana, acid, ecstasy heroin, meth. I can’t think of anything else right now. Alcoholism and addiction to opiates run in my family tree, so I have to be careful what I do. I didn’t grow up with alcohol in the house, my Aunt was hit in a car accident and died so he abstained from alcohol once all of us kids were born.
Let’s talk ABOUT the brain for just a second. Our frontal lobe, our judgment and decision-making skills center, doesn’t even develop fully until we’re 26. 26! Let’s think about all of the typical things we do before age 26: get our driver’s licences, have the ability to buy porn, cigarettes (or vapes or e-cigs or whatever will come out before I publish this article), enlist in the armed services (I mean, literally, DIE for our country), declare a major and decide what you want to be when you grow up, buy our first legal drink. This link illustrates the memory of the brain with a cocaine user watching both a nature video and a video featuring cocaine. This is featured in the amygdala (the very basic part of the brain (hunger, thirst, etc)
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-addiction-science/bringing-power-science-to-bear-drug-abuse-addiction Come on. Those are huge decisions.
The reason we talked about the brain development first, is to understand a little bit about brain mapping. When we make decisions before age 26 (even after, but especially before), we change our brain mapping. Every mental illness shows on a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scan (Basically a CT scan for the brain with lots of colors), as does an addiction. This is a further illustration with different drugs and how they compare to non-using brains:
The less red, the less positive, it’s basically killing off dopamine receptors. This means that, without the drug, they don’t know how to be happy. I have seen this first and second hand. I first worked in a methadone clinic, which is, yes, trading one drug for another, but a type of therapy that minimizes death of the client by providing a safe and effective treatment for clients. I also worked with court-mandated clients. They didn’t always love me, but it wasn’t my job to make buddies. You see, while I have previously known people who have tried harder drugs, I haven’t done them myself, so, it’s surprising that I always knew when someone was lying, bullshitting, using, and desperately trying to fight the addiction in their eyes. It’s sickening to watch it take a life and then, as soon as one claims it back, it’s lost again to that evil. I always found alcohol addiction the most difficult to treat. It’s legal! We literally have BUILDINGS dedicated to the sale and socialization of alcohol. A close second was opioids. once they get a hold, you’re meeting someone in a dark alley at 3a with your children in the backseat of a police car. The point of this second picture is to illustrate that joy leaves someone’s life with their drug use until their brain begins to make it again on it’s own. So, possibly, years of depression medications (if they can find the right one) until the brain begins to show a bit of it’s own dopamine. I’m not soliciting pity. I’m educating those who don’t understand that every life has worth, value, and meaning.
I’ve gotten calls from parents (with whom I could take not talk to without a release signed by the client), they would call with decisions to make. Life changing decisions for more than just one life. I had a parent call and beg me to help choose between their grandchildren, whom they were raising on their because their children’s mother was addicted and they were all living in the same house. I’ve worked in shelters. I know they exist. Rehab exists. It’s friggin’ expensive and most don’t cover anything but benzos and alcohol (you can actually die from cold-turkey after long-term, heavy usage). But between children and someone who continues to use in the house, I had to tell him to make the hardest decision of his life. He obviously loved his daughter, but he could’t put those children in danger or, God forbid, through the chance of finding their mother overdosed.
Does ANYONE want to Live Like This?
Pic 1 was found at the website cited, pic 2 came from SCIENCEPHOTOLIBRARY, the third pic came from FreePik (I used Canva to adjust and put text on the title pic.
Please feel free to leave comments, share your own stories, or others (please don’t use names), and any other helpful tips for family and those suffering from addiction. You can even feel free to e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org