Recent “Healthy Meth” Bust in Colorado Highlights Insanity of Addiction
Drug addiction has been an ongoing problem in our modern society. The current problem is so severe that sometimes it seems like a new issue, but drug abuse has been an ongoing problem for thousands of years. What makes addiction part of the human condition is that we humans are cursed with being sentient creatures who consciously experience, who consciously feel, and who consciously suffer. This makes the concept of taking a substance to mitigate the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experience of suffering more understandable. People want to avoid pain at any cost and seek the most pleasure out of life. That’s what makes drugs and alcohol such a trap.
The False Promises of Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol give us the false promise of saving us from our thoughts and feelings. If turning off pain and suffering is as easy as taking a drink or a drug, and it appears to work at first, who could tell us it’s wrong? Who could tell us it’s wrong and it actually be believable? I believe this is where modern drug education fails because it’s hard to teach kids, and even adults, that drugs and alcohol can be dangerous if the first experience people have with them is extremely enjoyable. If a person gets high or drunk and all their bad feelings, anxieties, and fears go away, enforcing the stance that substances are bad and dangerous has no clout. The person got high, and then they felt better, and that’s really all they know. Drugs and alcohol give them the false promise of helping them to survive better.
At the beginning, using is fun, and more often than not, nothing bad happens, and no major consequences are received. There’s often no situation at the beginning of a person’s substance abuse problems that resemble the consequence of touching a hot stove. Instead, it’s often the opposite. A person continues to get high or drunk and gets nothing other than positive reinforcement for doing so. Get high, feel better. Get drunk, feel better. It’s not until a person either winds up on harder drugs or builds an enormous tolerance to what they’re currently using that problems begin to arise. There’s never enough money for the quantity of drugs a person craves. As tolerance to certain drugs increases, more of the drugs are needed to get the expected effects. This also increases the amount of money needed. With this increase, criminality takes hold as the person searches for new and clever ways to obtain their drug of choice—never once considering the potential consequences.
Jobs may be lost, relationships may be broken up, but the drug user is the last one to see there’s a major problem. This is due in part to having completely blinded themselves to what’s apparent to those around them. All they can think of, albeit crude, “get high, feel better, get drunk feel better, find money to get high to feel better” and so on. It’s a disturbing autopilot that takes over the person and it’s often the reason why interventions are so vital in breaking through the conditioning and getting a person into a rehabilitation program.
Unfortunately, when a person’s substance abuse problems have reached a whole new level and their ability to make logical decisions is lost, they can sometimes make local news headlines. Years ago, a man named Steve became an overnight YouTube sensation after a video of him getting a DUI on his lawnmower surfaced. To thousands of viewers, this video was hilarious as Steve talked back to police in a heavy Southern accent and made a scene as he was being arrested. He was adorned with the nickname “lawnmower Steve” and achieved internet fame. More and more videos of Steve came out, documenting his many drunk interactions with law enforcement. The public ate up these videos and laughed at Steve’s antics, but to me, there was a sad underlying situation. The media made “lawnmower Steve” a funny, goofy character, but in reality, Steve actually suffered from a severe addiction to alcohol. But viral videos turned him into a caricature of a person who some actually aspired to be, hence many “copycats” on YouTube.
When the public laughs at addiction, I feel we forward the message that addicts and alcoholics are funny goofs who we can laugh at, but there’s nothing that funny about addiction.
Recently in Colorado, there was a headline on a local news station about a guy in Longmont who was arrested after telling police he was trying to create a “healthy methamphetamine” by mixing in acai berries to it. Obviously, the guy was arrested in possession of meth and drug paraphernalia and it became a hilarious-to-some news story. The stupid part is that I’m sure he became a local hero to some for his “idiotic” behavior.
Ending the Stigma of Addiction
All these headlines and viral videos do is continue to forward the stigma of addiction that all addicts and alcoholics are bumbling fools who make dumb decisions that, when documented, are funny to the rest of us. Stopping the stigma of addiction is an extremely important part of fixing our drug crisis and it’s also an important part of getting people help. Some addicts and alcoholics aren’t comfortable with the idea of treatment and admitting they have a problem partly based on the stigma carried with it. Addicts and alcoholics are coming from all walks of life. Rich, poor, educated, or not, anyone can get addicted to drugs or alcohol. Killing the stigma of addiction once and for all may help curb our country’s substance abuse issue by allowing more people to feel comfortable with the idea of help without fear of a permanent Scarlet letter.