Take it from me. After suffering from childhood trauma, being an addict is almost a given. You have to try hard to fight the overwhelming urge to avoid taking up the destructive habit.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the very beginning.
When I was five years old, my mother took me to school, and I met 30 other kids, none of whom I had ever seen before.
The experience was a bit overwhelming. But it was a taste of the future that awaited me because I ended up attending 12 different schools by the twelfth grade.
At that time, there were other changes at home. My parents bought and sold the house we lived in seven times.
I Was Always The New Kid In My School And My Neighborhood
I had no roots. I was always new. I had no lasting friends.
Forming friendships was not something I could master under these circumstances. Naturally, I drifted into being a loner, occupying my empty moments with my records, my guitar, and my books.
Attending school was traumatic as I could not get along with this personality trait. Bullying, threats, rejections from romantic interests, and other hardships defined my typical day in school.
The fact that I was one of the smallest kids in class didn't help things either.
I was forever misplaced. Still, I made it through.
At 20, I Had My First Blunt, And That Moment Changed Me Forever
Getting high freed me from all the shackles holding me back in life. Or so it felt. I swore never to put up with the terrible feelings I had endured all my life again.
And that was the beginning of my addiction.
But I'm hardly the exception, so I have learned.
As we speak, it is about a decade since I finally made a lasting decision to be sober.
In that time, I have attended more NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings than I can count. I have even talked at rehabs and jails.
Also, in that time, I have discovered one thing.
Nobody Says They Began Abusing Illicit Substances Because It Was Fun
It was always an escape from something awful. I won't go into the degrees of awfulness here, but it was always something someone felt was worth getting away from.
I also learned that many tried, often unsuccessfully, to ditch the habit.
This Is The Problem With Recovery
You resolve to stay sober one day, and the next you are struggling with an irresistible urge to abuse these substances again.
The consequences of what you are doing under these circumstances seem insignificant. It does not matter if you end up dead, in prison, in the hospital, or some other terrible place addicts end up in.
I hear that Dr. Daniel Sumrok, the director of the Center for Addiction Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center's College of Medicine, has suggested doing away with the name "addiction" in favor of the phrase "ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking."
I back his suggestion 100%.
Locking up addicts, as the "War on Drugs" often does, does little to help. If you don't believe me, consider that 50,000 lose their lives to drugs every year in the United States despite this popular initiative.
It's Simple Really: Addiction Cannot Be Resolved Through Punishment
Locking up addicts is no different from locking up cancer patients. Like other illnesses, addiction should be treated with empathy and love.
There is a reason these people feel more comfortable high than sober.
If we can make these people find meaning and satisfaction in life while sober, they would gladly and happily give up the addiction and embrace sobriety.
Nobody chooses addiction, inability to cope with life's challenges, mainly because of lack of support, leads them down this path.
Once we realize that and do something about it, we will save a lot of lives.