Addictions, of body and the mind.
Is there anyone free of addictions? Are all addictions negative? Can we be cured of addictions? Would humans be better off if we didn’t get addicted? There is no end to the questions and no one correct answer.
I was sitting in my favourite chair at home enjoying the life which I worked so hard to have. A life long of hardships, constant risk-taking, and sacrifice, many fights, lost and won; and I was looking at a pill container, thinking. If I just swallow those, I will fall to sleep and … nothing. Just a short while before that time I almost died and was revived by some brave paramedics and now I was wondering if saving my life could have been a mistake. I considered the possibility that I am a burden upon my loved ones and that I finished my contribution and became a liability. Those who pay my pension would agree.
On TV a reporter was talking about Fentanyl. A new miracle drug that is by far more addictive than Heroine and causes people to commit suicide. On my back, I had a prescribed Fentanyl patch. The pain clinic specialist told me to get off it calling it an “end-of-life medication”. I was planning to talk to my doctor about it but just about missed the mark. If I swallowed the pills in front of me, I would not have to make difficult choices.
The new opiates that included Fentanyl were marketed as a great new discovery and doctors fell for the well-planned campaign which enriched a few pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders at the expense of the rest of us. Some people lost their lives to gun violence, but many more did and still do to the legal drug crisis. Soon after, the illegal element joined in. Thanks to our good Canadian public health care system which includes mental health components, my and other’s lives have been saved after a long horrible fight. Getting off an addiction is a lot harder than getting on.
My deadly fight against Fentanyl is one example of the fight against addiction behaviour, but there are millions of us at a lethal war with addictions at all levels every day in every walk of life. It affects our families, employment, studies, and the costs are astronomical.
When we think about addictions, many of us zoom in on smoking. Fifty years ago North America identified cigarettes as a main contributor to some illnesses, lung cancer and cardiovascular included. That war has been won but still, people with limited imagination are sticking to it ignoring new and old threats that should be dealt with more seriously. I see us ignoring major new addictions while chasing seniors and hospital patients who smoke, out into cold streets to freeze, while having a cigarette. There is a perspective problem here.
I observed common addiction problems during the recent holiday, on the people around. It wasn’t hard to find. I saw the alcohol addicts telling about losing jobs, driving privileges, families and all that mattered to them. Others live with addictions to harsh substances like Heroin and crystal meth. They all show signs of depression. Somehow life is not offering them what they want or often they envy others who live better, in their opinion.
Addiction is a behaviour that often harms people, but they can’t quit doing it. My friend who is heavily involved in Alcoholics Anonymous says that it is a disease and must be treated as such. I don’t doubt it. It is not criminal behaviour and the infected person rarely is able to quit using what harms them without the help of others. Those who become addicted ruin their lives and commonly the lives of those around them.
It is easy to go to any major city and find an area where addicts roam. They are recognizable by their erratic behaviour and the willingness to do anything for the next “fix”. Some times they are people whom we knew at better times. We look at them and pray that it will never happen to us, but we don’t know. When someone is in the clutches of dangerous well-known addiction help is very limited, since it is costly. Another related problem is the more acceptable addictions, which are not so easy to see, but ruin lives just the same.
Just a note: In the US in 2018 every 7.5 minutes someone died from an overdose.