Why People Do Drugs

An interview with a former drug user (see “Parents Note” at bottom)

Having issues with drug use is always about more than the drug. “Your beliefs show up in your relationship with drugs. So if I’m using drugs when I’m  worried or bored, I’m basically saying I can’t feel these feelings. ‘Life is too much for me. There’s no goodness in my life except for drugs right here, right now.'”   “You’re basically using because you’ve given up on something, some part of yourself.”  Drug use can lead to self-hatred and self-loathing, making you feel crazy about yourself,”

People’s relationship with drugs mirrors their belief systems. “I realized that is what I have done, and so many other people have done, for years. You think that, ‘I am so small that the pain is going to overwhelm me,’ but really the truth is you’ve already experienced that pain”.

“Yes, you have, and what drugs do at that point is it doubles your pain, rather than make it go away,”  “You’re still in pain about what you were in pain about before you used, but now you’ve added a whole level of more discomfort which is: ‘Oh, I can’t believe I did this. What’s wrong with me? Am I ever going to get my life together? Is it ever going to get better?’ Then you’re feeling like a failure on top of the discomfort you were feeling before.”

A relationship with drugs is directly related to how close you are to your source (God). “That’s really what this is about,” she says. “The issue isn’t really the drugs. It is about your disconnection from that which is real which we call God.”

The emotional struggle that accompanies drug use is familiar, whereas life’s “heart-shattering events” are often new and raw. “People are afraid that the pain will destroy them. Or the heartbreak, or the discomfort even. … We don’t actually know that we can feel those feelings without being destroyed by them”. “Getting up and living day-to-day and going through the stuff of day-to-day, that’s difficult. But somehow we believe that drugs are cushioning it.”

I stopped smoking crack, I smoked marijuana.   At one point I thought this was great progress.  But it’s the same thing. I’ve switched the drug from crack to marijuana.”

Conquering issues with drugs starts with learning to love yourself.  “People say, ‘I hate myself and I hate my life and how do I start looking at myself and loving myself?’ And sometimes I’ll say: ‘How would you treat a child who needed your love? Would you just whack them around and just say: ‘Wrong! Bad. Look at your pathetic life”?  No. Kindness. Only kindness makes sense. Only kindness ever makes sense.”

It’s especially important to treat ourselves as we would our children, because our children mirror our actions.  A parent’s attitude toward their self rubs off on their children. If a daughter sees her mom not liking herself and she’s thinking: ‘I love my mommy. I want to be just like my mommy. I’m not going to like myself either, that way mommy and I are the same,'”  “That’s a really good motivation for you to start being kinder to yourself, because … it’s not too late. It’s never too late.”

Jennifer says, “What mostly clicked was recognizing that going to the drug wasn’t working and that what I was looking for wasn’t in the drug.  So what I was trying to get rid of and what I was trying to not feel, it didn’t help to be using over it”. “The other thing that clicked was that there was a whole lot of pain there to look at. I needed to look at some of the layers, recognizing some of the beliefs that were keeping me using.” Those beliefs were that she wasn’t good enough, that nobody liked her and that nobody would accept her the way she was.

Jennifer’s beliefs are similar to so many people. “We somehow believe that if we hate ourselves enough, if we shame ourselves enough, we’ll end up happy, peaceful people,” she says. “Somehow if I torture myself enough, I’ll end up feeling great about myself and about my life, as if hatred leads to love and torture leads to contentment.”

Women, Food, and God  by Geneen Roth

Parents Note: Drug abuse is largely about avoiding those thoughts, beliefs and feelings about yourself which seem too difficult to deal with at the time.  We all find a way to deal with our life, often by distracting ourselves so we don’t actually deal with anything, making things worse.  We create a type of idol which takes the place of addressing the real issue.  There  are many choices which help us to avoid things like excessive: eating, work, sex, drinking, video games, relationships, gambling, another class, TV, reading, drugs, running, religion, volunteering and the list goes on and on.  You probably noticed that most of the things on that list seemed like a good thing.  It’s not so much about what you are doing but rather the purpose behind what you’re doing.  Some people work a lot so they don’t have to deal with their spouse at home, while others work a lot because they are passionate about what they do.  Some are in a relationship hoping their life will feel more complete while others already feel whole and simply love their partner .

Most young people are not ready to deal with everything that happens in life at a high level so, as a parent, sometimes it’s best to just help redirect them into a less destructive distraction than drugs or alcohol.  A  sport or new hobby doesn’t solve the real issue but it does help to keep them, and those around them, safer until they are ready to deal with themselves at a deeper level.  Most teens want to “fit in” with some kind of group.  If you don’t help direct them, someone else will and you might not like the group they find.  Find ways to connect with your children through one on one communication and other interactive activities.  Our Parent Drug Program Manual goes much deeper into what you can do as a parent.

by Paul Mungo – TestingTeensForDrugs.com