While we live in a world with many forms of addiction ranging from a wide variety of drugs, food, sex, adrenaline, and yes, even technology, we often find ourselves wondering what we can do about it all. Many treatments aimed to end addiction to one substance or feeling involves another substance or action that can be itself, addicting. A great example of this is using Suboxone or Methadone to substitute heroin or other opiates. This action of replacing one evil with another happens every day, and not just with illegal drugs. Many find themselves quite addicted to either their coffee, donuts, and other comforts, and then pass judgment on other forms of addictions than inflict pain on people. While technology, such as our beloved cell phones, are sometimes viewed as addictive themselves, technology has been the spark to the flame of the modern-day fight against addiction; this is mainly due to the Internet and its ability to connect the world and allow communication. Being able to see how many people suffer the same addictions, hearing about what works for them in trying to stop them, and also being able to properly research the science of it all has given today’s society a much-needed leg-up in the fight. However, now with the constant communication of the world, drug addiction is shown to everyone, all the evils, and nightmares, as well as those who view the treatment of addicts as too sympathetic. So, for the next topic, should society be compassionate toward people who are addicted?
I believe society should be more sympathetic towards drug addicts due to many reasons, such as the alarming rate drug addiction increases every year and the poor medical treatment drug addicts receive when they try to break the cycle and progress in treatment. The war on drugs continually rages on. However, we often focus on only eliminating drugs themselves and not dealing with what happens to the people who use them when they are gone. When thinking of drug addicts, people often picture a ‘spun-out’ youth robbing the elderly for their next ‘fix.’ However, in modern society, addiction can come in many shapes and forms. Natasha Tracy wrote in her article “Addiction Facts and Statistics” for Healthy Place, “51% of US teenagers have tried an illicit drug by the time they finish high school. Another scary fact was that “Alcoholism is present in 20% of hospital inpatients” (Tracy, 2016). Drug addiction is much more common than we like to believe and I personally think everyone is addicted to something, even if we won’t admit it. Whether it be something hardcore like heroin or as familiar as coffee or overeating, addiction causes horrible pain to people all over the world. Two common categories used in identifying addictions are mental and physical. Being mentally addicted to something is basically merely having your brain desire something strongly and cause you annoyance or anxiety when you don’t have it. However, physical addiction is something entirely different; the body now literally needs what the mind craves. This is common with drugs such as painkillers, which can cause you flu-like symptoms when your body runs out of the substance. Drug addiction is a severe medical condition, and the world must educate themselves on its genuine dangers while focusing on becoming more sympathetic towards drug addicts in the process.
Properly learning how to deal with our own addictions and how to treat others with them is crucial to stop this menace. The treatment of drug addicts is very inadequate and gives those in treatment the sense of being criminal. In 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said at World Day, “Drug-dependent people should not be treated with discrimination; they should be treated by medical experts and counselors. Drug addiction is a disease, not a crime” (Ki-Moon, 2011). The treatment of drug addicts can be improved by hiring people who may have been addicts themselves in the past or those who at least know about the dangers and severity of the problem and can treat others with mutual respect. Love and kindness can be the most significant healing tool there are for any type of ailment, and drug addiction is no different. Drug addicts are often very emotionally unstable, and their journey to sobriety should be a harmless and welcoming one. The first step many drug addicts take in getting help is merely calling a treatment center; the attitude of the person they interact with first can make all the difference. If the addict is met with hostility, they will most likely give up. Instead, if the addict is met with a comforting voice on the other end telling them it will all be ok, the chances of sobriety are improved substantially.
The most suitable method to explain why we should be more sympathetic to drug addicts is to simply look at one of the first steps many family and friends of drug addicts take when helping someone, an intervention. The staff at Mayo Clinic wrote in their article, Mental Illness Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction, “an intervention is a carefully planned process that may be done by family and friends, in consultation with a doctor or professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor or directed by an intervention professional (interventionist)” (Mayo Clinic, 2016). These interventions can produce amazing benefits or devastating consequences depending on the attitude and manner in which the intervention is handled. Having a drug addict come to terms with their problems in the presence of their friends and loved ones can be terrifying to them. Lauren Brande, M.A., wrote in her article, Intervention Services and Interventionist Options on Recovery.org, that “according to some of the most current intervention statistics, approximately 90% of all drug and alcohol interventions will succeed upon the conclusion of the meeting when an intervention specialist is leading the process” (Brande, 2016). Proper planning such as gathering information on what substance the person is addicted to, what kind of triggers he or she has, and also who to have present at the intervention is necessary for creating a non-threatening environment. With this information, it is easy to see how drastic a little sympathy can be when dealing with drug addicts. Of course, many oppose my stance on this subject, such as David Sack, M.D. of Psych Central. In his article, “Is There Such Thing as Too Much Empathy?”, he explains how being too empathetic affects a person in everyday situations, with a focus on drug addicts. Drug addicts undergoing treatment are in a very fragile state and need to be handled accordingly. Too much empathy can create problems like codependency when people lose themselves in their relationships. This becomes especially dangerous when a couple becomes codependent on each other in their drug life. Enabling is another term that is often used in drug treatment. David Sack states that “people sometimes mistake enabling for empathy. Out of care and concern for a loved one, people may enable destructive behaviors like substance abuse. They loan money, provide food and shelter, and make excuses for an addict. While these behaviors may look and feel like empathy, they prevent the addict from experiencing the natural consequences of their behaviors, thereby perpetuating the addiction” (Sack, 2016). To prevent an environment that is too empathetic to a drug addict, one can do numerous things like setting personal boundaries, practicing mindfulness and seeking professional help. David Sack ended this article in a great way by explaining that, “empathy is one of the fundamental capacities that make us human. Having too little is a problem, but so is having too much. Striking a balance will help you hold onto your own identity, so you are in a position to help – without damage to yourself or others – when someone else needs you” (Sack, 2016). It is imperative to limit how empathetic we are to drug addicts to ensure their success as well as those helping them like family and friends. Although this article does help one fully grasp how important the mental state of the drug addicts and those involved in the treatment process are, I do not see any convincing reason to change my original stance that society should be more sympathetic towards drug users; this is because although too much empathy can indeed be a bad thing, drug treatment often takes place in a professional environment, and that kind of attention to detail should be already expected.
The Irish Examiners’ article, “I Have No Sympathy for the Moral Weakness” written by Florence Craven, takes a firm stance on the treatment of drug addicts by stating, “my approach to such people would be to remove them from the streets to spare decent citizens the sight of this detritus. Forget about what other countries do to pander to morally-impotent drug users. Instead of worrying so much about the treatment of drug addicts, society should simply just focus on those who are seeking help with genuine problems” (Craven, 2016). She views society is far too sympathetic towards drug addicts, and due to this, this problem will instead continue to rise. “Society needs to dispel the cobwebs off this spineless liberalism, which has destroyed the West. I am sick and tired of hearing about alcohol, smoking, obesity, and drugs being ‘imposed’ on people” (Craven, 2016). Whether you agree with her stance or not, one cannot deny the truth to some of Florence Cravens’ ideas. Although I do completely understand her view of drug addicts as many can be volatile and violent, it is unfair to say that all addicts are the same. It isn’t shocking that many view drug addicts as such a dangerous and unpredictable threat with the way they are portrayed in the media today. Unfortunately generalizing all those seeking drug treatments is not the most intelligent way to handle it. How can we expect anyone to want to seek treatment for their drug addiction if they are already labeled as a menace before they even walk in the door?
Tracy, Natasha. “Addiction Facts and Statistics.” Healthy Place.12 Jan 2012. https://www.healthyplace.com/addictions/addictions-information/addiction-facts-and-statistics
Lim, Jillian Rose. “Most Americans Prefer Rehab to Jail for Drug Offenders.” Medical Daily. 04 Apr 2014. http://www.medicaldaily.com/treatment-vs-punishment-poll-finds-americans-prefer-rehab-over-jail-drug-offenders-274660
Edwards, Roxanne Dryden. “Drug Abuse Symptoms, Causes, Treatment – What Is Drug Abuse? Medicine Net.10 Oct 2014. https://www.medicinenet.com/drug_abuse/article.htm
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Mental Illness.” Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction. 26 Sept 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/ART-20047451
Brande, Lauren, M.A. “Intervention Services and Interventionist Options.” Recovery.org. 17 Apr 2013. http://www.recovery.org/topics/addiction-intervention/
Sack, D. (2012). Is There Such Thing as Too Much Empathy? Psych Central. http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2012/09/too-much-empathy/
Craven, Florence. I Have No Sympathy for the ‘Moral Weakness’ That Is Drug Addiction. Irish Examiner. 14 Jan 2016. http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/yourview/i-have-no-sympathy-for-the-moral-weakness-that-is-drug-addiction-376058.html
Categories: Random Thoughts