just a fact of life and how it was viewed in both general and religious terms.
For the most part, it is our instinctual nature to avoid it at all costs. Sure there are those that are
“willing to die for their country” during wartime or who endure painful physical sacrifices to become talented and polished athletes or artists (gymnasts or ballerinas for example) but for the most part, people don’t go out of their way to “suffer” either emotionally, mentally or physically.
In fact, we’re genetically wired to avoid it. The whole “fight or flight” thing beckons back to our caveman days and for the most part, if flight is permissible, it will pretty much win out the majority of the time.
So how does suffering come into play in the conversation concerning alcohol and drug dependencies? Obviously there is “suffering” involved with the physical aspects related to severe use
such as withdrawal, cravings, etc….but those are just some of the lovely ramifications of living the life.
But what I’m looking to explore here has more to do with the reasons why we end up using dependently. Now I’m not suggesting that it is the case for all of those folks whose use drugs/alcohol in this manner, but I personally feel that for the majority of dependent people, that they use their drug of choice as a method for
dealing with some kind of underlying issue whether that be trauma, anxiety, stress, etc…. In a word, I think they use to self-medicate some form of internal pain to honor their instinctual tendency to want to avoid SUFFERING.
As I’ve stated many times, I don’t believe that dependent drug/alcohol use is a disease but rather that it is
a response and attempt to relieve this internal pain. So we’re stressed out, depressed, or whatever and when we down that bottle of wine or stick that needle in our arm, it all goes away……..for a while…….A very short while…… Of course none of the underlying stuff that drove us there is in any way addressed so when we come down, wake up, etc….. it’s still there. We may be able endure it all for a little while but then the desire to make it all go away rears its ugly but very natural head and……..we use again. Wash, rinse, repeat….it’s a vicious cycle.
So how do we break said vicious cycle? Well first you must come to the awareness that we are using for the above stated reasons. Then comes the awareness that it’s just not working all that well (at least not as a long term solution) and that it just causes even more issues on top of those that you were trying to self-medicate away.
Next comes the decision to STOP and reverse the trend and figure out the why’s of your internal pain, whatever it may be. Yes, at this point you have to be willing to suffer the physical aspects of withdrawal and whatnot. But in reality, that’s the EASY part. The hard part comes in the self-analysis and reinvention of yourself (through education, reading, therapy or whatever it takes)
Make no mistake, this is probably going to be one of the hardest, loneliest, frustrating and monumental tasks that you will ever take on. For me, it meant facing and trying to unspool over 35 years of more or less dysfunctional living. Not a pretty sight to say the least. It can be pretty depressing when you see just how much of your life was spent living in, shall we say, a less than happy and optimal state. It is during this
time that many people “suffer” from trying to face and confront all that and end up throwing their hands up in frustration and gravitating to that quick fix again. That, in my mind, is what causes relapse. It’s not that you have some ridiculous “disease”. It’s that coming to terms with all of that stuff is damn hard! So don’t beat yourself if you do slip, fall, relapse or whatever you want to call it. It would be pretty amazing if you didn’t along the way.
So back to our instinctual responses of fight or flight. As I said, we generally will run before taking on
an intimidating and tough foe. But in the case of overcoming your dependency issues, you need to be willing to take the gloves off and fight those ugly painful things that we wish would just go away. You need to garner the resources to overcome them and MAKE them go away. At least to the point where you can live with them without the need to bury them artificially.
People do it all the time. I did it and it was no walk in the park. But let me tell you something, it was worth
all the “suffering” to get there.
Life can be good, even excellent with a little bit of luck, a lot of determination and an innate belief that you
deserve it and can attain it.
You have “The freedom to Recover” and the ability, you just need to find it.