Drug addictions are often treatment nightmares. Whether alcohol, marijuana, heroine, or prescription drugs, it’s just common sense that if something feels good, why stop? Illness, injury, loss of family, loss of job, and death are often the results of abuse. You’d figure that a logical person would stop using if the results are so catastrophic. Sadly, for the addict, logic isn’t much help.

Does anything help?

Individual psychotherapy is only marginally effective. Religion is only marginally effective (Religious zealots who saw addiction as a sin and got prohibition passed, only got a lot of people killed and allowed organized crime to make a fortune). AA, NA, MA, OA, GA and all the other As are very helpful but certainly not perfect. Hospital programs and rehab programs can be helpful, because they get people clean and into 12 step programs. In the end, no specific treatment is easy and the path to abstinence is a tough one.

So what about stopping drugs at its source, like waging war on the cartels in Mexico? According to Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, fighting the cartels is only making it worse. He stated that in the last year, 500 people died of drug related issues while many thousands died in the war against the drug producers? He advocates legalizing drugs and stated that governments can’t control what people do. If a person is determined to use, that’s what he’ll do, no matter what the law says. President Fox feels that the job of governments is to keep people safe, not force them to do what the government dictates.

What’s the answer?

There isn’t a great one. As individual practitioners we can continue to educate our patients, get them into programs, treat the underlying depression and anxiety if they exist, and always be a voice of reason and a caring resource. Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, never give up. Battling denial, omnipotence, and selfishness, the main defenses of addiction, are just as important as battling depression and anxiety. It’s what we were trained to do and what we do best.

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5 thoughts on “DRUG ADDICTIONS; HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH SOMETHING THAT FEELS SO GOOD? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

  1. I can see the reasoning behind legalising but there needs to be some sort of education to go with it. The number of people who still think that smoking marujuana is fine and it has no side effects at all amazes me. My friend’s son is a regular user but has come off it for periods of time, unfortunately the depression always puts him back on it. What he can’t see is the difference, it’s like two different people… when he’s smoking he’s an argumentative, violent individual, when he’s off it he’s a lovely lad… because as soon as the high wears off the depression and anger come back twice as bad as before.
    Then there are the people who use for medicinal purposes and swear by it… an online friend died from doing just that. He forgot he’d taken his tablets already because he was high, so he took more and died of an overdose.
    Having said all that there’s always going to be the ‘not me’ people who think bad things always happen to other people and never to them.


  2. Speaking as one who has lost a stepson to drug addiciton (addict for 25 years) I can guarantee you that the only thing that will work is if the addict really wants to stop. It has to come from within the addict. Carson

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  3. As you probably did as well, we saw President Fox at the speaker series last week. He certainly is an advocate of drug legalization and his arguments are persuasive. We do allow smoking and alcohol consumption both of which cause more health problems than illegal drugs. Making them legal (and taxable!!) logically should reduce the crime. It is just hard for most of us to handle the idea.


  4. As a person who has been sober since March 2012, I can attest that programs and counseling only go so far in recovery. I am a cerebral person. Going to AA meetings helped me in one sense: I realized I wasn’t alone in my struggle and I wasn’t a loser. I read The Big Book and The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, but I have a family and can’t dedicate every evening to meetings or AA events. I didn’t buy into the “cult-like” environment of AA, but I still go back to the readings. Counseling helped for a short time. Instead, I do yoga and I write and I admit to my mistakes and don’t pity or blame myself for everything anymore. I got to the root of the problem deep within. Today, I only think about alcohol when someone mentions it and my thoughts are simple: “I don’t want any. Thank you, but no thanks.” I don’t judge others who choose to consume. Some can, but I can’t. Besides, the older we get, the worse the alcohol effects become. Thanks for the post! 🙂


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