Yesterday the President rolled out something about drug abuse prevention. Admirable. Scrolling though the newsfeed about it, I saw people bitching. Expected. One person in particular struck me as particularly stupid when they said something about alcohol abuse and opioid abuse not being the same thing. Well, I guess if you think mandarin oranges and navel oranges aren't the same things, then you might be able to make a case there. From my perspective, an orange is an orange is an orange. Substance abuse is substance abuse is... you get the picture.
It doesn't matter what substance you're abusing, the root is the same - trying to blank out reality.
Trump's thing, like I said, is admirable. Foolhardy perhaps, but admirable. Why foolhardy? Because you can't get people to stop trying to blank out by telling them to not do drugs or drink. Somehow, somewhere in their existence, they've been told that reality is bad and they've discovered that there are remedies for that.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think most people take their first drink or smoke their first joint or snort their first line because they're looking for the blank-out. Maybe they start because someone told them it would make them feel awesome or relax them or help them beat stress. Hell, that's why I started smoking - to combat stress. It's probably also why I started drinking, but I started drinking way before I started smoking and I can't remember back that far. All I remember is that I drank, a lot, and more when I was under duress.
I tried pot because my pothead friends made it seem awesome. It wasn't. At all. Huge bouts of technicolor yawning both times. Twice was more than enough to make me stop. It never made me stop drinking, though. Weird. And so stupid.
The first time I got totally drunk, I was 16. Drunk and sick like a dog who's eaten rancid garbage. Didn't stop me. Maybe because for a time before that, I was totally awesome. Bright and shiny and outgoing and popular. Well, popular until the big sick. Then I was only popular to one boy who kept me company in the dark of my friend's bedroom. (Nothing happened. I think.)
It wasn't the first time I drank. It was just the first time I got blotto. I think the first time I drank alcohol had to do with a particularly pissy day at school and my father's limited stash of booze. Vodka, maybe? A little dribble in the bottom of a glass with some OJ. I thought it would make the day less bad. It probably did.
I might've been thirteen. Thirteen and totally unequipped to deal with what was bothering me on any real level. And so it started. 20+ years of trying to whitewash things I was unable to deal with. Drink and forget about whatever was bothering me. Tada. It didn't make the problems go away. It never does. It just made me forget about them for a while. Sometimes, it caused more problems in the aftermath - like the night when I got dumped and decided to drink until it didn't hurt anymore. I got alcohol poisoning and was sick for 3 days - on top of being heartbroken. Weee.
This is, of course, all anecdotal. Still, I expect the stories of so many others aren't that different. All trying to escape reality like reality is at fault for all our problems. And if we can just escape it or avoid it, everything will be fine.
That's what we need to fight - the mindset that leads to wanting to blank out which leads to substance abuse. I'm not sure it's possible in this day and age. :shrug: I changed my own mindset long before I quit drinking. I no longer needed to get drunk, but I still drank. One or two a night. I just petered off over the course of years until I realized I didn't need it anymore and then I realized I actually didn't want it anymore.
So, while wanting to fight the cycle of substance abuse is admirable, it's foolhardy to think we can stop it with slogans or initiatives or laws. Stop it with a change in philosophy and culture. Stop it by showing your children that alcohol and drugs aren't necessary and that life is awesome without them, and that we can solve our problems without artificial help. If we can do that, maybe someday we can reverse the tide.