Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why the Addict can't just Stop

I'm in the airport now, waiting to travel to Indiana. Things smoothed out after the other night. S came down around 8pm and we talked a bit. He really beats himself up after he drinks. By that point, I was over my annoyance and just wanted to love him. He doesn't want to act that way and it kills him that he can't control it. He still believes that somehow it's a character flaw--that if he was strong enough or man enough, he could will himself to act the way he wants to act. But the disease doesn't let him. My understanding is that we all have Stop and Go mechanisms in our brains. The addicted brain's Stop mechanism doesn't get a chance once the Go mechanism has been triggered. And the triggers can be anything and last the blink of an eye. Most of the time, the addict isn't even aware of the trigger. Some of the meds available work to rebuild that Stop mechanism.
At least, this is what I pulled from the research I've done. I'm no doctor.
A friend and neighbor of ours has a roommate who's addicted to crack. Now, we live in a really nice, quiet seacoast town. This is NOT the slums of Boston or anything remotely close. He's a nice man who works for a golf course. Addiction can affect anyone. In fact, one in four families are affected by addiction. The stigma and misunderstanding surrounding this disease is huge and detrimental to millions of people. I think about all the people thrown in jail because of drugs. Now, I'm not saying that drug dealers should be free, but maybe as a country we need to completely change how we think about drugs, drug abusers and addiction. I don't think we'd throw a diabetic in jail for buying a snickers. How different is it when an addict buys drugs from an undercover cop? So throw the big players in jail. But the addict is suffering from a disease. He or she is not delinquent, they need help and support and understanding. And lots of patience! The patience part is the hardest for me.
Two weeks from today he sees the Pharmo-psychologist. We have a lot resting on what she says and does so I really hope she knows her stuff. The battle continues...

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