Monday, March 15, 2010

Drug Abuse, Drug Addiction, and the “Blind Addict”

Drug abuse and drug addiction make intervention necessary because they keep addicts from seeing themselves as they actually are. Addiction recovery necessarily entails an engagement with the facts, and hinges upon an addict’s ability to overcome the “blindness” associated with the disease.

Drug addiction, we should note at the outset, is a clinical disease: a chronic condition with discrete and identifiable causes that trumps anything we might understand as individual will or personal agency. Drug addicts, in other words, don’t choose to be drug addicts, same as diabetics don’t choose to be diabetics. Drug addiction is so hard to overcome precisely because it infects the entire scope of an addicts being, and strips him of volitional control over himself and his actions.

It’s that sort of comprehensive or holistic affliction that engenders a sort of addiction “blindness”: a self-centric myopia that prevents addicts from honestly and rationally assessing their behavior. A drug addict is “blind” in the sense that he can’t see anything but his own sense of need, and the drug that might sate it; substance abuse shuts out all but the light of a chemical high, leaving addicts to grope about in a darkness from which only drug use and abuse offer any hope of escape.

What all that means, in practical terms, is that addicts rarely understand the trouble they’re in until it’s already to late. Put another way, addicts often don’t even know they’re addicts…not until someone tells them, that is. The role of an intervention, in this sense, is to make addicts see their sickness, and to make addicts want to get better. In the end, it’s only that desire which can ensure the ultimate effectiveness of any drug rehab program.
(Article courtesy of Cliffside Malibu)