I want to take the time to talk about control. Some people have it, some people do not. Those who don’t are desperate to get it. And I doubt anybody would argue with me when I say those people will do absolutely anything to feel in control, no matter what the cost. Now let’s talk about control as it relates to addiction. It is true, addicts are not in control of their lives by any means. That does not give anybody the right to seize control over an addicts life. So why is that the accepted method for treating addiction? To seize control over another person and forcibly make every decision for them. That’s what we have accepted to be the right way to stop someone from using drugs. Whether it’s your friends, family, or medical professionals. There is just one problem, IT DOESN’T WORK! First of all, people are far to self-involved and can’t see past their own noses most of the time, so when someone makes those choices for another who has been diagnosed with addiction, they’re making choices that are in their own self-interests with no regard to what the addict needs to recover. People are inherently concerned with how addiction has affected themselves and focus solely on fixing their own problems caused by another’s addiction, and completely ignore the disease itself. Next we all need to understand, and for the most part we do, you cannot help someone who does not want to help themself. That is what makes drug addiction so lethal. The addict typically is not making decisions based on anything other than the drug and is not even aware of what their actions are doing to themselves and their loved ones. So, they often times do not see any need for help of any kind to begin with. It’s just how this disease progresses. So, no matter how hard you try and control someone with addiction, it’s only going to make matters worse, for all involved. The only possible outcome from all this is death. So what is the correct answer then?
As they say in the Big Book, the first step is admitting you have a problem. You need to convince the addict of the problem and they must accept their circumstances are caused by their drug use. I know personally all to well just how monumental of a task this can be. But that is step 1, so don’t skip it! But it’s hard and I don’t have time to do all of that! They could die before admitting anything is wrong! Citing how their addiction has already caused enough problems in their own life and they just don’t have time to make the addict listen to reason. Forcing your will on them is way faster. FAIL! Whether you can force them to do something or not, they don’t know theirs a problem so the cycle is only destined to repeat itself. Their dead anyway.
My mother is one of those people who must be in control at all times. I grew up listening to her preach about how she has always been in control and how that is how she achieved the comfortable life she lived. Her crowning achievement was always, “Never even smoked a single cigarette, or was drunk at all those Marine Corps squadron parties I frequented in the 70’s.” So hear I am, 25, gay, and on the fast track to a horrible early grave. What caused my addiction to go from an inevitable death sentence, to the fight for my right to even exist was the fact that I am gay. My mother was incapable of processing this fact causing her to lose control over her child. So the only concern my parents EVER brought up in these dark hopeless period of my life was my sexuality. At my intervention with my parents, the only question either one of them had for me was, “What is your HIV status?” over and over again. Which I obviously refused to answer one way or the other. That was it. Then it continued with scrutinizing my friends, Facebook photos and posts, and so on. Never a single question about my drug use. Ever. The conversation had shifted from addiction to control. They couldn’t understand that I was gay, so they tried to force their understanding of me onto my choices. In order to regain control over me and my life. When that didn’t work, they tried to out all the things I was doing in my addiction by making the contents of my cell phone and laptop publicly accessible on the internet. Then denied all of it to the point where they had me arrested for confronting them, but told police I was high so I spent my very first night in jail as a result. As their repeated attempts at controlling me failed, they only kept escalating the conflict between what they understood to be true and my right to exist as me and nothing else.
My story is an extreme example as to how the accepted treatment methods for addiction do not work. But it shines a bright light on how foolish it truly is to believe if you just make their choices for them, then they won’t ever have a chance to use drugs anymore. That’s never how the story goes, and everybody knows this. So what do we do to successfully treat addiction?
After completing step 1, an addict now has the ability to make choices regarding their drug use. They don’t necessarily make the best choices every time, but that’s just a part of recovery. The single point of failure at this point is, an addict at this stage of the disease has lost just about everything, their friends, job, home, family, loved ones, money, everything is gone from their life. So when they are able to make a choice whether or not they want to get high or not, because they know they have a drug problem, the only option available to them is to get high. Everything else they once had is gone. So whether or not they want to get help, that’s no longer an option. So they just continue to use drugs no matter how hard they’re now fighting to quit. The solution is to provide unrestricted access to other options! BOOM! It’s that simple. Given the choice between feeling safe and stable asleep in their own bed or, going out and getting high fully aware of how bad that can escalate, I know, from personal experience, that they will choose to feel safe 9 times out of 10.
At Restoring Pride, we are dedicated to providing unrestricted access to safe, stable housing, medical treatment, laundry and so much more that these people have lost from addiction. These are all things that sadly, up until I decided I had to do something different or more people would die senselessly, were never available to them. Leaving everyone with a singular choice to use drugs. Stop blaming the addict for how they’ve fallen down. Drugs have saturated this country to the point where nobody goes untouched by this disease. Yet nobody cares that hardly nobody is recovering. Instead it’s shame on them until they’re forgotten completely. This is not acceptable. Become a part of the solution. Donate, volunteer, get involved, ask questions with Restoring Pride. And we can restore the pride in the lives of those who have lost it.