This post is personal. I won’t be providing extensive factual backup to why I hold the opinions that I do. This post is about two things: My very limited experience with drugs, and a close family member’s much longer and ongoing battle with drugs and alcohol.
Like a lot of teenagers, I tried drugs for the first time because it was exciting, rebellious and because a close friend also wanted to try them. We were at a club, someone offered, and we tried Ecstasy. It was awesome. For about four hours I’d forgotten about whatever problems I may have been dealing with, or, looking back, wasn’t dealing with, and had a great time. After the pill wore off, however, I felt like crap. Suddenly all the little things I was worried about were back, and physically I felt like crap. I continued to take drugs on what some might call a frequent basis, and each time was the same as the last. I was a lucky one. I was lucky because despite the fact the drugs made me feel unbelievably good, the mental and physical penalty for a few hours of bliss was never worth it. It was not because I was strong, I get addicted to things pretty easily, it was luck.
As far as my family member is concerned, she isn’t so lucky. Her childhood wasn’t as easy as mine, and although she’s tried to deal with her various problems, she can’t escape the alcohol or the drugs. It’s not for lack of trying, but she has a defeatist attitude and like many in the world of addiction world may describe, a fear of falling from the top floor instead of the second floor. I don’t have her problems, nor do I have the expertise to help her, and it frustrates me. So many aspects of her life are so strictly controlled and well thought-out, but despite the fact she spends an enormous amount of time trying to figure out why she needs to drink every day, she can’t. She sees therapists, she tried addiction meetings, and a variety of other methods, but it hasn’t worked. To an outsider, and even in my own opinion, she is a stronger person than I am. She demonstrates on every other aspect of her life a strict sense of self-control, but despite so many conventional (and non-conventional) attempts to combat her addiction, she hasn’t been successful.
Now you may be wondering why I’m writing this. It’s a valid question because it may not be presented very clearly, or seem to be going anywhere, but it is. The reason I’m comparing my experience and hers, is because I want to make the point that a weaker person like myself can enjoy all the pleasures of drugs for two years of his teenage life, and despite having very little self-control, stop taking them for no other reason than I didn’t really feel like it anymore, while a highly structured and self-disciplined family member of mine can struggle for years despite seeking professional help.
My point? The stigma surrounding addiction, while in some cases is completely valid, isn’t always right. In some cases it outright doesn’t make any sense. I encourage anyone reading this very brief comparison of situations who is struggling with addiction either personally or with the difficulties of a close loved one, to assume nothing. Assumptions about why a loved one is hurting themselves wont help them. Pragmatism is the only way to help. Learn what works, do what works. For some it takes months to recover, others years, but assumptions and too much reflection on the reasons can be harmful.