Let's Face It: We’re All Addicts
Written By Slasher Jones
When we think about addiction, we usually carry a universal picture of druggies, raging alcoholics, and people with serious personality disorders. The issue is usually very black and white- you either are one, becoming one or you’re just ‘normal’. Rarely does one think about addiction holistically, as we are all caught in our own pre-conceived notions of what it means and this clashes with personal and societal values. When we are confronted by someone who displays unacceptable behavior or who does not fit the profile of what we consider a balanced human being, we are compelled to judge and put ourselves on a higher pedestal. We do this to re-affirm our identity, to convince ourselves that we are better or at least, not as bad. Addicts allow us to gauge our own use of mind-altering substances, and as long as there are needle-seeking hobos out there, we will always find comfort in knowing that there are people worse off than us. We are not like them, we are better. The problem is that we all have different opinions on what is too much, what is acceptable, and what actually constitutes over-consumption. To really understand the issue, a drastic self-examination is in order.
How many working class adults today would be able to swear off coffee consumption for the rest of their lives?
This may come as a shock to you, but if you are living in a developed country in this day and age and are between the ages of 18 and 65 chances are you’re addicted to something. Anyone else is either too young to try or too old to continue. Think I’m exaggerating? Answer this: How many working class adults today would be able to successfully swear off coffee consumption for the rest of their lives? If somehow Coffee or Tea became illegal, I can assure you that the black market would fight tooth and nail to supply this commodity and it would become as important as any substance of the drug trade, if not worse. Don’t consider coffee a drug? Well for starters it is mind altering, and it also develops a physical dependence in its users through regular use, so from a scholarly point of view- it is in the same playing field as any drug. Granted, the societal and physical repercussions are not as apparent as that of more intense abusers- so let’s dive into a substance that hits closer to home; Alcohol.
Think of how many friends you see on a regular basis that you can spend 24 hours with, without taking a drink
Alcohol is the substance of choice when it comes to social settings. Considering that almost any combination of people in the same vicinity can be considered as a ‘’social’’ setting, it is everywhere. I’m not just talking about bars and parties. Think of how many friends you see on a regular basis that you can spend 24 hours with, without taking a drink. If you are like me the answer is in and around zero. Try attending a get-together, a party, a bar or any type of social setting after regular working hours without a drink of some kind. For a great majority of us it is almost impossible to avoid, yet we are quick to judge alcoholics or any form of drug habit. Social environment, peer pressure, and the stresses of daily life all have something to do with it. Everyone has an excuse and a different perspective: ‘’I only do it on weekends’’, ‘’I’m a social drinker/smoker’’, ‘’I take it in moderation’’ ‘’If I wanted I could stop anytime’’. But could you?
Since everyone is different, addiction can’t be a quantitative thing, so we are left with our own biases on what is acceptable consumption, even though we fail to acknowledge our own dependence on these very same substances. We are lying to ourselves, but we conveniently move to another reasoning of ‘’Well, at least I’m not doing Cocaine or (insert illicit substance here)’’.
One man’s solace can be another man’s downfall
So you only like to drink on weekends with your buddies and social occasions, but you’re not really on ‘‘drugs’’ so your OK right? You’re not like them. However, what really constitutes them? Mainstream opinion and Hollywood movies have made society largely oblivious to the fact that them can be anyone. Lawyers, Doctors, Teachers, CEO’s and probably that real estate agent of yours that sold you your condo that you keep bragging to your friends about. Cocaine is not just used by the party-goers, celebrities and lost souls of this world; it’s the drug of the professional working class. Yet we keep trying to hide it by being secretive about it, fight it by waging a billion dollar campaign called ‘The War on Drugs’, and deny it by administering tests and firing whoever doesn’t comply. Why doesn’t that money and effort go to a more worthwhile cause?
Ask those who think investing in prisons for drug offenders is more sound than investing in education for our youth.
Even those who do not indulge in any form of consumption habit may be addicted to something much worse than drugs such as money or power. Being addicted to money can cause adverse effects such as environmental damage, child and slave labor as well as a myriad of other consequences. One man’s addiction to power can create a war involving the lives of innocent people. In retrospect, being addicted to something that only affects the individual seems like a healthier choice.
In any case, the problem is not so much the substance itself as how we adhere to it. In the same way prophets use spiritual readings to suit their own purposes, the same means are used differently, by different people, and for different ends. One man’s solace can be another man’s downfall. Alcoholics use the same substance that is regarded as having many health benefits and may have been the precursor to you meeting your wife or best friend. The pot-head uses the same substance used for medical purposes and that has given inspiration to countless artists. Cocaine addicts use the same substance that sherpas in the Andes have used for centuries to induce mental alertness.
It seems evident that the use of these substances will only continue to grow as mankind is constantly searching to have an effect on the world or at least, on himself
As humans, we have evolved to be insatiable in chasing the next big thing to feel accomplished. We constantly need to occupy our minds and fill the void of restlessness and boredom. Addiction itself is not a measurable trait but rather a state of mind. Ironically, to accept this we must acknowledge that the substance has nothing to do with addiction, but rather acts as a gateway to reach a constant artificial state of fulfillment on demand. The drug is only a bridge to another island, but if we are to be effective in understanding it we must not seek to destroy the bridge but rather understand what is so appealing about the island, or find an alternative route.
As our ambitions are met with physical limitations, they are the easiest way to hover over the mundanities of everyday life and bend the rigid barriers of reality
In a time where everything is increasingly at our fingertips, our evolution from hunter-gatherers to passive 21st century beings brings about a need to fulfill our purpose. It seems evident that the use of these substances will only continue to grow as mankind is constantly searching to have an effect on the world or at least, on himself. The need to feel powerful or at peace with our surroundings is most easily induced by external forces. It is these substances that help us cope with our infinitesimal effect on our universe as they provide the gateway to making us feel part of something bigger. As our ambitions are met with physical limitations, they are the easiest way to hover over the mundanities of everyday life and bend the rigid barriers of reality. Who can blame us mortals for wanting something more? Drug abusers are merely voyagers that got lost in the clouds. Societal values, however, teach us not to look beyond the dirt and punish us for peeking on the other side.
We must acknowledge the profound Ying-Yang effect that these substances have on our lives, and only then can we preach about the pitfalls of abusive use for self-fulfillment.
It is for these reasons that a more holistic understanding of the issue must be embedded within our understanding. I’m not saying we should condone abuse, but we must realize the need for it and work with it rather than against it. Not everyone is completely satisfied with the white picket fence life and the 9 to 5 routine. People have a constant need to be somewhere else than down to earth. The fact that there is such a wide array of users, let alone addicts is telling us something. The world population is slowly starting to catch up on this, but mainstream acceptance is still met with strong opposition. Drug use and abuse is too often judged based on shaky logic, lack of empathy and the flawed appeal to legality. The time has come for a revolution and advancement in our understanding, by realizing that the problem is not so tangible. We can choose to fight it with morals or by throwing money at it and using brute force, but it will not go away.
On the other hand, we can choose to finally acknowledge the important place these substances hold in human history, our evolution, and its role in forging identity. We are creatures of habit, it is time that we own up to our own kind. We must acknowledge the profound Ying-Yang effect that these substances have on our lives, and only then can we preach about the pitfalls of abusive use for self-fulfillment.