|Anecdotes from Avi|
We will wrap our discussion by touching upon some of the scientific knowledge about addiction that lifts the fog from some baffling points.
Freedom of choice
We, as a society, especially judicial and law enforcement, consistently treat drug use as bad decision making and a bad moral choice. The underlying thought is that the addict prefers the high, from the drug, to the success of hard work.
Can you imagine a person liking the high, from a drug, so much that this individual will be willing to give up all their possessions, their love of family, love of friends, love of self, their honor, their morals, their freedom, their goals and even their life for that high? We are taught that this is the case, despite the fact, that this opinion makes absolutely no sense. We know that most addicts do not like being addicts they do not like what the drug had done to their lives. (See: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=nora+volkow%2c+study+of+the+live+brain&&view=detail&mid=2C4C24406D164D9F58AD2C4C24406D164D9F58AD&rvsmid=71AFD11A366AB2F7244771AFD11A366AB2F72447&fsscr=0&FORM=VDQVAP)
So, the question is: “Why wouldn’t the drug user just stop using this awful drug and start working hard to achieve their goals and dreams?”
Let’s try to answer these questions…
Addiction is a chronic disease: Addiction is a mental, chronic disease that destroys the person’s ability to self-control. When self-control is destroyed the person will not be able to resist taking the drug when a friend or a dealer offers the drug to them. Similarly, a morbidly obese person, who does not like being fat, will not be able to resist a high caloric desert, or two helping of that desert, or three after that person finished eating a full meal and is no longer hungry.
Addiction destroys a person’s “normal” reward mechanism: The reward mechanism governs most of our actions in life. If you have a to-do list and you finish a task on your list, you cross it off your list and you feel good about it. Now, what happens when you accomplish a task that is not on your list? You will, more than likely, write the task in your list and then cross it off. Why will you rob yourself of the good feeling that comes along with crossing the task off? This is an example of a “normal” reward mechanism at work.
For the reward signal to register as reward, as a good feeling stimulus, in the brain, must exceed a certain minimum threshold. On the other side, if the stimulus exceeds a certain maximum threshold then the brain adjusts its minimum and maximum thresholds to a higher value and will keep the range of minimum-maximum approximately intact.
We observe that folks who use drugs are not motivated to do much else other than use drugs. This seeming lack of motivation is caused by the fact that the drug use, on its own, gives the user such a high, reward stimulus, that exceed the “normal” maximum threshold level. As such the brain elevates both minimum and maximum thresholds. So, a “regular” stimulus, say crossing an item off a to-do list, no longer registers as rewarding and it now appears like the person is not motivated to do anything else but use drugs. We in return label the person as “lazy”, “bad” and “worthy of punishment”. In turn, this “bad” label and punishment only causes more isolation, trauma and hopelessness which feeds the need for more drug use. A truly vicious cycle.
The good news is that after recovery, an approximately five (5) years period, the brain will adjust its reward thresholds back to “normal” levels.
As a parenthetical remark, the infrequent user of drugs does not suffer from this problem, because the brain can “recover” before the next application of the drug.
What can you do
Calm down, build a relationship with your addicted child based on love and honesty where you do everything to understand your child.
Be prepared for the long haul. By the “long haul” I mean a timeframe on the order of five (5) years or so.
If you have other children, you need to bring up the subject of the sick brother and listen to their pain and guilt.
Protect your relationship with your spouse and work on stability in the family. Handling an addicted child puts strain and hardship on a marriage and family dynamics.
You need to protect your own sanity, we recommend 5-10 minutes of Directed Free Association daily.
Educate yourself on the field of addiction, you may start with the three books I recommended in anecdote 12.
Addiction is not a bad choice, it is a chronic disease.
Even if authorities do not treat addiction as a disease you should be better informed.
Last point is about you. If you started following the Directed Free Association technique daily, you probably already found out that it makes a difference and you begin to think of things not just from your point of view but from your child point of view or others point of view. You may have also started to come up with potential action steps. In parting from the subject of the last eleven anecdotes I would like to offer the following points.
- if you thought about a topic and changed nothing except your mind, then this change is acceptable provided that you conclude that this is a good thing. If on the other hand you intended to change something external to you then your solution falls short of its goal and you need to keep on thinking.
- if your thoughts lead you to change drastically anything about your life or your relationships, then allow yourself a period no shorter than a day, during which you will get a good night’s rest and during which you will mull things over but take no drastic actions. This is a good time to consult with your master mind alliance partners. Spending one, two or a few, 10 minutes sessions, by yourself, are not sufficient to turn your life or your relationship inside out.
- If after a wait period you decide that the right thing to do is turn things inside out then let everyone affected by your decision know what it is that you are about to do, ask for their help in doing so, allow everyone a chance to voice their point of view during which you do not interrupt (except for clarification). Then give yourself an opportunity to fine tune your decisions. Life changing events are not to be rushed into!!!
We thank you for taking the time to read these anecdotes.
Avi, The BTFMovement.
You are not invincible—Stew Birbrower
Together we march towards a destiny