A Different Perspective on Addictions

 In drug use

Humans are cognitive beings. We think, create ideas and solutions for problems. We also react, but that is a failsafe. Thinking supersedes our instinctual reactions when that is called into play. When we have a problem, therefore, we have two types of responses. One is to act immediately to remove the problem. Another is to determine the cause and manage that. We do that in many areas of life that have come into our cognitive capabilities. We can stop a flood by looking for the leak in the dam. We can fix a motor vehicle’s sputtering by analyzing and then fixing the spark plug or timing belt, whatever we discover as the problem. A doctor does not just give medicines for symptoms. The doctor will first investigate the source and then treat that.

Why then, do we resort to our basic instinctual responses when we are faced with an addiction or mental health problem? A person who drinks too much or uses drugs recreationally will primarily be directed to address the behaviour by abstinence that is either supported or imposed. We act first to punish criminal behaviour even when it is reactive but definitely when it seems to be deliberate. We treat emotional disturbances with medications that act to suppress or mask their presentations. We do not analyze the problem for a source. There is a reason for this. We can understand that if we look back in history.

Those areas of problems can actually be separated into three categories the mechanical, the biological, and the emotional. There were times when we treated the biological problems with the same type of instinctual reactions because we did not understand the source. Ancient (actually not so ancient) medicine developed solutions that were purely directed at the symptom because we did not yet understand them. Just remember that even the germ theory of disease was not formulated until the late nineteenth century. Penicillin, the first antibiotic was only discovered in 1928. Rontgen discovered X-rays in 1895. So we have only recently been able to investigate and address the source factors in biological disorders. Mechanical conditions have had a slighter earlier period of discovery. So in these two categories we are able to apply cognitive capabilities to get at the source problem more readily and address the issue at a much more manageable position. In mental health, we have yet to be able to see and understand the underlying factors. Therefore, we still treat emotional discordance and behavioural abnormalities including addictions at the surface level, often assuming them to be deep because they address them at the psycho/socio/spiritual component.

We still do not understand the source, and that is because we are looking for apples in an orange grove. We do not and cannot define the human mind as more than a function of the body. Then we look into the body as deeply as we can see in order to get a glimpse into that intangible arena. Even religious people, despite their desire to focus on the spiritual, also see it as the physical composite albeit resurrected at a different time. Yet, it is possible to ‘see’ the mind and understand it if we learn to look for it as a real existent that is simply not based on the electronic composition of matter. We can learn to look for its birth and evolution and see where that may have been stagnated to allow a person to be mentally under-developed and thus constrained to rely on instinctual powers rather than cognitive. Only then will we understand the mental poverty that gives rise to emotional dysfunction or to cause a person to react foolishly or retreat to the artificial solace of drugs and alcohol. Only then will we really be able to help another person become strong, not just function correctly under restraint or with assistance.

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