I had the good opportunity to talk to my friend Bryan the other day and to step up my writing focusing on addiction issues. I am going into a one year research with the broad focus of asking myself, friends, community and my readers this question---Will there ever be a world without addiction issues?
We who have worked with alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, cigarette smokers (also addicts) and all the other addictions possible know that the world is saturated with addiction issues. It seems like just about any effort to stem the tide of addiction is not working very well. For every effort put forth there are double the stats indicating things are getting worse not better.
We, the world, need a profound social change at all levels to produce a sustainable and lasting change in the way we think and act with addictions problems. For instance it is no longer 'cool' to smoke cigarettes. Yet lately there has been an emergence of electronic cigarettes which seem to be 'cool' to use and even brag about. Smoking pot is becoming legal and drinking is still looked upon as in fact social and acceptable.
Smoking and drinking are personal for me. Back in the 1920's my mother and father smoked non-stop even when she became pregnant with me and as a result I was born full term---five pounds! I have nerve damage that I live with to this day. My father died of alcoholism and I almost did. Most of my youth was spent addicted to alcohol and drugs. I am recovered with 35 years of sobriety but I remain vigilant.
I know how powerful the disease of alcoholism is and have seen people die even with long term sobriety when they withdrew from their spiritual progress. Revering back to type kills many alcoholics, new ones are coming to the arena and many future people will become addicted. Crafted beer is popular, pot (as mentioned) is becoming legal, and I agree with Bryan that one out of five Americans are effected by drinking alcohol. This is not a picture of the popular belief that only a minority are abusers. In fact "35% of American engage in risky drinking". (The Future of Alcohol, Bryan Donaldson, Bahai Coherence)
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) states that only a spiritual experience can keep one sober, NA says the same about drug addiction. Once hooked the recovery process is a long, hard and lifelong sentence to stay recovered and to be fair it is also profoundly humbling and wonderful to follow a path that is spiritual in nature. AA saved my life and I continue to follow the steps and precept so program. I am grateful for this phenomenal altruistic movement. But not everyone will accept the AA/NA (other A's) way of life. So where do they turn?
Churches and religions do much to help turn people away from usage in the first place. If one does not pick up that first drink one will not become addicted. The pressure to drink/drug is overwhelming for most youth who want to fit in. The many treatment centers are expensive, but do much to help people recover, many relapse, many still die even with treatment. Drug courts send people to AA to get their papers signed that help humiliate sufficiently to stem short term drinking and driving but most will not stay humble, and will, in fact, become angry that they were caught and humiliated. So---what is the answer?
As Bryan and I discussed and he wrote about---it will be a very long time before drinking alcohol will not be 'cool'. I will address some other ideas in the next article. Meanwhile if you are having trouble with your addiction go to AA/NA, your church, a treatment center, a counselor, talk to your friends, reach out and get help. Drinking alcoholically will kill over time. You can count on it! May we all find a way to find a way to prevent future youth from the hell and darkness present today due to the many addiction issues.