Stephen Mason, P.H.D. seems to be saying in this article here that some people are just plain addicts. No 2 ways about it…..you can try to prevent addiction, or you can try to treat it and control it, but in the end certain people are going to get hooked on something, be it drugs or alcohol or whatever.
He argues that a certain percentage of the population is simply “like that” and there is no way that the drug war or a new policy or anything that we can do that will really change this fact. Addiction will always be a problem, he says, because there will always be addicts among us.
I guess I have to agree with that thinking, in that I believe that there will always be addicts. And I believe that, had I been somehow protected from chemical addiction my whole life, I would have found another outlet for whatever it is that is wrong with me. My addiction would have manifested in some other form.
Here is why I tend to agree with this idea from Dr. Mason:
The drugs and alcohol are not the problem. I believe (as they say in Narcotics Anonymous) that the drugs were merely a symptom of the problem. The problem was deeper than substance abuse. It was at the core of my being. It went beyond chemical addiction. The drugs and the alcohol were simply the outlet that I was using at the time in order to deal with things.
I used drugs and alcohol because I liked the effect that they had on me. Specifically, I did not have to deal with my feelings or face any uncomfortable thoughts that I might have to deal with in my daily life. Drugs allowed me to escape from all that. They were the perfect mask. They made it so that I did not have to feel. I could choose to be “cool” and get high instead of having to deal with raw feelings and emotions every day. This problem was at the core of why I fell in love with self-medicating, even though I would not admit it for several years in my recovery.
It took time for me to uncover what I was really running from. I could use excuses and say that “I just loved to get high.” This was a cop out. In fact, I had learned how to medicate my fears with drugs. This is the reality of addiction. It is not as glamorous as I had made it out to be.
I think Dr. Mason confuses the issue a bit because he talks about “the addictive personality” and this might lead people to believe that we can potentially predict who will become an addict and who will not. I don’t think that is possible, but that is not the point. His point is that some people are going to be addicts, no matter what. I think he is right in that.
So I feel at times that the best we can do is to focus on solutions. The problem will always be there and prevention is a failed strategy in my opinion. Prevention techniques could not stop me from developing addiction. The problem will always exist and it is up to us to find new approaches and solutions for helping addicts.