When It Comes To Loving A Person Who Is Addicted & To Fighting Your Own Demons
In the new movie “Beautiful Boy” with Steve Carrell (playing the father, David) and Timothée Chalamet (playing his son, Nic), Hollywood tackles the throws of addiction. Citing right before the credits that overdose is the leading cause of death of individuals under 50.
It’s raw and it hits where it hurts. You watch as a young man loses his spark, his life to the grasp methamphetamine has over him. Or rather to some dark hole that he needs to fill with booze, pot, LSD, coke, and meth.
A fateful tale that is being told over and over again because it is being lived over and over again.
One of the most powerful scenes from the whole movie is when Steve Carrell is flipping through the journal that his son left behind. It has all these dark cartoon drawings and speak bubbles.
One reads something to the effect of: “When I feel shame, I use. And then I feel more shame for using, so I use again as not to feel it at all.” [I butchered that, but the idea is still there.]
If you love someone who struggles with an addiction or even know someone who struggles, I think this is one of the most important concepts to understand. Placing someone in a prison of shame, no matter what they are doing, only compounds the problem. It only pushes them to burrow deeper into the numbing, escaping.
Because at the end of the day, drugs don’t pass judgment. People do.
The truth is that a drug is a solution to an emotional gap, an emotional struggle, maybe even a sense of emptiness. You and I may not think it's a viable one, but it is to the user.
The real problem that must be addressed is a lot deeper than needles, powders, and burns. It starts in the heart and mind. Whatever cannot be handled sober can be managed high. That's the truth.
If we want to overcome this collective progression (or regression) towards depression, anxiety, and drug overdose—we all need to start taking ownership of the things we can control.
That starts way before someone shoots up for the first time.
It starts with learning to master our own psychology, our mindsets, our emotional health. And teaching those skills to children in schools. It starts with presenting a picture for the future that is optimistic. It starts with championing people’s strengths and providing them with a vision for what’s possible.
Artificial Intelligence may solve our resource problems, maybe even our cognitive deficiencies. The government may solve some of our allocation and economic problems. But you can be sure as shit that neither will solve our emotional struggles. They won’t help us process our own lives any easier. They won’t help us manage grief, sadness, anxiety, overwhelm, or stress. They very well may drive us into such deep boredom, such deep depression that drugs are the only way to feel meaning at all.
Unless we take the reigns and divert this ship elsewhere, we will continue trending downwards (or upwards, depending on your perspective).
When we feel like our feet are on solid ground, when we feel like we have choices, when our hearts are full and our minds are clear, we don’t need drugs.
We are full already.
That’s the kind of world I want to live in.
One in which people are equipped with the tools to handle the difficult emotional battles.
One in which we don’t shame humans into drug use (or out of it for that matter).
One in which we push the limits on what’s possible.
One in which we wage war on shame, guilt, regret, anxiety, and depression, not a war on drugs. Or worse, a war on addicts.
Something in my heart tells me it’s possible.
I know it is. It must be.
For those of you really in it supporting someone through right now, I know it’s hard to reconcile that the person who is using is the same person you love sometimes. It’s hard not to try to control and worry all the time.
You are not at fault for others choices. Not your spouse’s, not your friends’, not even your children’s.
There are things you can do and many things you can’t do. You must find where the line is for you.
I highly suggest you read the book, Chasing The Scream by journalist Johann Hari. It may give you some insight into the war on drugs, potential solutions, and ways to approach your loved one. It helped me split open and switch up my own approach toward such things.
In the end, all will be okay. Even if it isn’t, somehow it still will be.
That I know for sure.
My heart is with you.