Lots to learn on addiction
IT WAS highly disappointing and indeed sad to read councillor Yagyah Adams’s suggestion that drug addicts should be criminalised (“Get tougher on addicts”, Weekend Argus, July 13) as a way to combat the scourge and protect society from them.
What makes it so sad is that the suggestion comes from a councillor who ought to have acquainted himself about this dreadful, puzzling disease before going to the press with his reckless suggestion.
People found in possession of illegal drugs automatically get a criminal record, except for the juveniles, who are first-time offenders. Incarceration does not stop users’ addiction because addiction is so powerful that it leads to a high rate of recidivism among users, who commit crimes to feed their habit.
The councillor’s tone is stereotypical of that of many people who regard people on substances as scum. Addicts may behave like scum and callous animals but deep down they are human beings struggling with a painful and complex disease, which has defied modern science in finding a cure.
The other common myth mentioned by people with little knowledge about addiction is that addicts have choices. This view is so crass that it needs addressing. Anyone introduced to any drug or mind-altering substance does not choose addiction but chooses the drug for its mind-altering effects. These mind- altering substances, including cigarettes, cannabis and alcohol are presented as wonder drugs that would send you into a state of instant bliss with one hit. Not once is it mentioned to prospective users that one drink, one hit or one puff is enough send them down the dreadful and painful road of addiction.
Once an individual becomes addicted, the damage is done. Addicts have no choice once they are addicted because addiction is a disease, beyond the control of most users. One hit leads to the thousands and it never stops.
Once individuals are deep into their addiction, they reach a time when addiction is no longer fun, it is a daily curse and a painful mental prison without keys.
Successful recovery from addiction is only possible when addicts become totally fed up with their addiction; sincerely admit that they need help and are fully committed to follow a programme for recovery.
There are no drugs to cure addiction. Rehabilitation centres and prisons do not work if individuals are not willing to take the help they are given.
Of all the help available to addicts, the best help for users to recover is total unconditional love. I wish to salute the mothers who made tremendous sacrifices and went through great pain and strain in their marriages to help their children recover; some mothers have even died of heart attacks trying to save their children.
I have heard from several recovered users about how indebted they are to their parents, who showed them the love that helped them to recover when the rest of their family and society in general condemned them like dogs to die out in the cold.
Let us not forget children with undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and depression, who turn to drugs for relief, only to end up full-blown addicts with terrible criminal records.
I’d like to appeal to readers to attend support groups to know more about this disease to help people suffering from the condition and stop being judgemental about them.