Why Are They Using Drugs

Why do addicts use drugs? I am gearing this piece ultimately toward those who, quite understandably, stand by in complete and nauseating disbelief as someone they love keeps using drugs or drinking alcohol even though it is directly and obviously destroying their life. I will not address the brain chemistry behind the process, here, but will aim the discussion toward a straight-forward explanation of why addicts use and drink the way they do. Obviously, there are many good books that cover the subject more broadly and in more detail (See Gabor Mate’s, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, or Marc Lewis’s, Memoirs of an Addicted Brain and The Biology of Desire) but here I want to offer a concise explanation in as simple a way possible. I will build this post and the discussion therein around a quote from the movie Drugstore Cowboy (1989) which chronicles time in the life of four IV drug-addicts in the seventies. The leader of this gang and movie’s protagonist, is Bob Hughes (played by Matt Dillon), a lifelong addict who feeds his drug habit by robbing drugstores. Eventually Bob finds himself discussing his attachment to drugs with a counselor in a treatment center. During his discussion with her he makes a statement that I think encapsulates the reality behind an addict’s use as well as I have yet heard. Bob says in his laid back and languid manner, “Well, to begin with, nobody, and I mean nobody, can talk a junkie out of using. You can talk to ’em for years but sooner or later they’re gonna get a hold of something. Maybe it’s not dope. Maybe it’s booze, maybe it’s glue, maybe it’s gasoline. Maybe it’s a gunshot to the head. But something. Something to relieve the pressures of their everyday life, like having to tie their shoes.” To emphasize the line of import:, “Something to relieve the pressures of everyday life, like having to tie their shoes.” READ MORE

Perception and “True” Reality

Here I am going to describe perception and the importance that it has on any given person’s experience of reality. I’m also going to explain the reasons that reality, itself, is very subjective. It is important, in any discussion, to define or at least discuss terms, so let’s start there. Reality is an illusive term that is supposed to refer to a state that is real, or to that which is true. Obviously, this only brings up more illusive terms that require more discussion, explanation, and exploration to define. The problem, when discussing reality as it pertains to human experience is that there are at least two basic kinds–that which is “real” in the material world and that which is “real” in the emotional world of any given person. Sometimes these two realities collide and are experienced simultaneously, but rarely. And while it could be argued that the reality of the material world is “more” real (as it can be substantiated objectively by any observer) often the more salient subjective reality experienced differently by each individual person is the “real” that is actually coded into memory and reacted to. Almost always, actually, it is the perceived “real” that is truly experienced, that is reacted to in the material world of the brain chemistry of the perceiver. It is what we see as “real” that causes actual neural expressions of joy or trauma, so ultimately, it is what we experience as real that really is real whether it’s real in the material world or not. Confusing? READ MORE

Chemical Imbalance- A Bass-Akwards Paradigm

In this post I challenge the standing concept of chemical imbalance as well as making the direct assertion that the neural changes referred to as chemical imbalance can and should be used to help direct us towards positive changes. It is important to note right away that this post is not meant to challenge the use of psychotropic medications, per se, but the paradigm that ultimately governs and propels their use. Furthermore, if you are currently on medication do not make changes in your regime without the help of your prescribing doctor. The current paradigm that governs the diagnosis and treatment of unwanted emotional states supposes that a contented person is contented because they have a brain chemistry that is balanced. When, then, a person becomes depressed, anxious, or otherwise off kilter to such a degree or for such duration that they warrant diagnosis, it is because they are experiencing a chemical imbalance. That somewhere in their brain function exists too much or too little of some neurotransmitter, hormone, or other physiological influence of subjective emotional experience. It is further supposed that if said neurotransmitter or hormone were altered to a level of balance, that person would be able to enjoy the contentedness that comes of a balanced brain. I want to tweak this view to suggest that it is a balanced brain that changes it’s chemical expression when the person who possesses the brain is living a life that is not naturally resulting in feelings of fulfillment, gratification, and emotional well-being. READ MORE