STOP BUYING IT! 05/14/12
No self-control, no will-power. That’s how many people think when they describe addicts, together with the idea that drug and drink problems would be solved if only people stopped buying it.
If only it were that simple!
I didn’t choose to be an alcoholic. No one does. When I first started to drink it was to self medicate. Alcohol numbed the nightmare of my childhood and helped me deal with the daily hell of my life as a teenager. Even in those early days, I don’t think I could have given up even if I had wanted to. But as my dependency and tolerance to drink increased there was no way I could manage to overcome my addiction through will-power alone.
The more alcohol progressively impacted on every aspect of my life, the more I worried about it. I knew that I shouldn’t have been drinking every day, I knew that it was costing me a fortune, I knew that it was harming my health, I knew that it was affecting my work and I knew it was causing problems in relationships.
The problem was that matter how aware I was of the damage it was doing, I didn’t understand that I was an addict and so any attempt at controlling my drinking was inevitably going to fail. Once a person is physically and psychologically addicted, the substance becomes as necessary to life as the air that we breathe. I couldn’t live without a drink.
Yet for those who were witnessing me self destruct through addiction, it was obvious what I needed to do. I just needed to come to my senses and stop it. What no one appreciated was how much I had tried through will-power to cut back and quit. Nothing had worked, I had no idea what could cure me and I was terrified.
In desperation I went to my GP who referred me for a seven day in-patient detox but without the medication I started to crave as soon as I returned home. A community nurse visited and I sought her advice on how I could beat the battle of the booze. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Just don’t buy it!”
Hopefully today there is more awareness of addiction within the health professions as well as society as a whole. Yet many misconceptions do still exist about alcoholics or drug users that enforce the idea that individuals somehow choose their lifestyle and the consequences. Addiction is so much more complicated than that.
Of course once an addict has admitted they have a problem, received appropriate treatment and started a journey of supported recovery, then self control does have a part to play. But it’s only then they have the choice to say “Today I’m not going to buy it!”