Why we re­ally do drugs

We are des­tined to live colour­ful, spon­ta­neous and cos­mi­cally con­nected lives, and we are sup­posed to be ex­pres­sive, ec­cen­tric, in­de­pen­dent and un­car­ing of what the rest of so­ci­ety thinks of us. There is a way to get al­tered states, en­hanced senses, a pow

Living Now - - Contents - by Jost Sauer

We are des­tined to live colour­ful, spon­ta­neous and cos­mi­cally con­nected lives, and we are sup­posed to be ex­pres­sive, ec­cen­tric, in­de­pen­dent and un­car­ing of what the rest of so­ci­ety thinks of us. There is a way to get al­tered states, en­hanced senses, a pow­er­ful feel­ing of be­long­ing to a com­mu­nity and to the cos­mos, with­out drugs.

WHAT DID YOU get right on drugs? It’s not the stan­dard first ques­tion to clients at a drug re­cov­ery clinic. In fact, it’s such a rad­i­cal de­par­ture from the stan­dard script that I usu­ally get a blank stare. The re­cov­ery in­dus­try re­volves around the idea of mal­func­tion, but if noth­ing ac­tu­ally went wrong, that ap­proach doesn’t work.

There is a new drug-us­ing de­mo­graphic – peo­ple aged any­where from 12 to 60, who are rich, poor, old, young, happy, un­happy, male, fe­male, suc­cess­ful, fail­ures, from bro­ken homes or from happy homes – who just like to feel good. With this as a start­ing point for drug use, it makes sense to look at what went right.

‘Rev­o­lu­tion­ary’ is prob­a­bly the best word to de­scribe this ap­proach, be­cause it does en­tail over­throw­ing the old model. And it’s old. Most cur­rent re­cov­ery pro­grams are based on ideas that emerged over a cen­tury ago. We no longer ride around in horse-drawn wag­ons or tap away on type­writ­ers, so why use equally out­dated ap­proaches to re­cov­ery? It’s high time for an over­haul.

De­bunk­ing the old myths about why you take drugs is a good place to start. As ev­ery­one who has been through coun­selling or a re­hab pro­gram knows, iden­ti­fy­ing ‘why’ you did it is al­ways the fo­cus. As it is au­to­mat­i­cally as­sumed that some­thing must have gone wrong, the an­swer is in­evitably one of the fol­low­ing: you were try­ing to es­cape re­al­ity, or cope with pain; or you are dis­eased, self-de­struc­tive, have low self-es­teem or other psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems. ‘Drug users are just es­cap­ing re­al­ity’, is usu­ally stated in an ac­cusatory tone, as if there is some­thing wrong with this. But re­al­ity, as most peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence it, is gen­er­ally so or­di­nary that, in my opin­ion, there is some­thing wrong if you don’t want to es­cape it.

When the po­lice catch run­away pris­on­ers they never say to them, ‘ Oh, you’re just try­ing to es­cape prison’. It is ex­pected that you’d flee if you got the chance. But if you take drugs or in­dulge in any other ac­tiv­ity to ‘es­cape re­al­ity’ ev­ery­body gets up­set. I be­lieve it is our duty to es­cape re­al­ity and seek an ex­tra­or­di­nary life. How we do this should be the is­sue, not why.

The idea that drug users are try­ing to cope with deep-seated pain – usu­ally the ‘un­happy child­hood’ va­ri­ety – is another flawed as­sump­tion. If that were re­ally the cause of ad­dic­tion, I think there would be many more ad­dicts. Grow­ing up can be an un­pleas­ant process, for any­one: you’re short, pow­er­less, and your true na­ture is be­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally sup­pressed so that you can fit into the ac­cepted lim­ited ver­sion of re­al­ity. But not ev­ery­one takes drugs as a re­sult. Over the years I’ve treated peo­ple for ev­ery con­di­tion imag­in­able. Some who adored ev­ery mo­ment of their child­hoods be­came heroin ad­dicts. Oth­ers who had ter­ri­ble, abu­sive child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences never even tried a drug.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.