Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Now Auditioning for Roles: "Substance Zombie Apocalypse"

Snort it, smoke it, inject it, ingest it. You won't find what you need even if you do get what you want. You will eventually find you are lost and compelled to travel mile after mile after mile of bad road. How many times have I heard the addict tell me, "Nobody wants to become an addict. No one gets high and expects to become diseased."

I sympathize as I hear these words derived from their personal dependencies and addictions, but I detest their fall to ignorance and their determination to bring down family and friends as the drugs "become" them. Without a strong will, intervention, or both, a person will fall and begin to morph.

The metamorphosis to Substance Zombie can be very slow or, seemingly, almost instantaneous. It begins innocently enough with what is perceived as common, rite-of-passage experimentation, then it becomes a habit that will spiral completely out of control. Once the drugs possess the host, the alteration is complete.

I think if a person is merely substance dependent, that person must seek treatment from qualified, professional people to return to a life of normalcy. That thorough treatment should be closely monitored and include research-based medical and psychological help.

However, I believe there is no "cure" for full-blown addiction because it is a chronic disease. Effective treatment? Yes. Vast improvement? Yes. Managed control? Yes. A return to a fruitful, satisfying life? Yes. But cured? No. Unfortunately, addicts must commit to life-long treatment and management of their condition.

As someone looking at addiction in my community with my self-gleaned knowledge and new perspective, I must empathize with those suffering from the disease and vow to help them, yet I must hold my ground, a ground I expect to protect from the invasion of chemicals, their lure, and their bondage. I stand on the bedrock of prevention, education, intervention, rehab, and punishment for those who directly or indirectly harm innocent others.

The object of a person's pleasure quest lies in reality, not in some substance-loaded Camelot fantasy and not in a state of chemically induced ecstasy. Ask those who live with Substance Zombies or who work with Substance Zombies or who try to love Substance Zombies. Reasoning is futile and hurt is always on the horizon. Lies are commonplace and deceit is normal for those possessed by drugs.

Still, there are those who want to legalize potentially deadly drugs or those who refuse to accept the fact that we all must become responsible citizens and fight to stop drug abuse. So, just let me make this exceedingly clear: In most cases, I, too, believe the individual who snorts, smokes, injects, and ingests is ultimately responsible for his/her fate. This reality can be understood with common sense. However, I believe that a tremendous amount of indifference for those suffering from dependency and hatred directed at users fuel the drug abuse problems in our nation.

Until we come to grips with the truth, innocent people are going to continue to die by the millions in accidents and crimes directly related to drug abuse. What is the truth?

* To me, the truth is until we instill a new, effective philosophy of dealing with pleasure and pain, people will indiscriminately take medicines that do not help, but that harm and kill them.  

* To me, the truth is until we revamp a broken medical system, clean up the crime and greed in the FDA/Big Pharma connection, and put larger amounts of money into drug education and treatment, we will see the never-ending growth of our substance killing fields.
* And, to put it bluntly, the truth is until the majority of the populace begins to "give a shit" about drug abuse and addiction, Substance Zombies will roam our neighborhoods in increasing numbers.

Maybe it's true: "Nobody wants to become an addict." To me, if a full-grown adult capable of making good decisions decides to become addicted to anything -- drugs, gambling, sex, money, power, fanatic behaviors -- it's their decision to put themselves into deep water. And, I am well aware they will either sink or swim. Yet, I firmly believe many in Scioto County care more for their pet than for their fellow man.

Therefore, to me, to deny a diseased individual help, to be incompassionate, to be "above" dealing with the so-called "condition" of needy people is unacceptable. Which sins are the worst? It is not for me to judge. I can judge this though: One life saved and willingly changed for the better gives hope for us all. One addict saved may be the key to permanent, positive change we desperately need.

"For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?"

--Bell Hooks, author, feminist, and social activist


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