[07 February, 2014]

whatever tomorrow brings, i'll be there

Last week I went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting as part of my training in mental health. It's really important for us therapists to understand the dynamics of addiction and how 12-step programs offer pretty successful treatment. From my experience, NA meetings are different from AA ones in that they tend to be very diverse: you'll see everyone from crack-dealing prison-tattooed guys to high-society pill poppers. Addiction unites people across classes, genders, place in life, and drugs of choice. It was a speaker's meeting, which meant that one member was invited to share their story. The woman detailed her struggles with various drugs, but her "favorite" was heroin. She described it like this: when you go under anesthesia before surgery they ask you to count backwards from 10, and by 7 or 6 you're usually already out; well, being on heroin is like being at an 8. It's going through life in a sedated haze, free of worries and pain. I've heard someone else describing the heroin high as being wrapped in a blanket of love, feeling protected, warm, and carefree. And man, honestly, being someone who often battles demons of hopelessness, this sounds kind of awesome. Not awesome in a let's-glorify-addiction kinda way, but just… I understand the pull. I really get looking toward something that might help you cope, something that might give you a sense of relief, however momentary.

Then this week, Philip Seymour Hoffman died of heroin addiction, and there have been countless others recently in Hollywood and beyond. Addiction is dangerous and deadly, probably because life never stops being painful, and perhaps becomes more so with the drug involved. The only way to deal with life, it seems, is to increase positive coping mechanisms, increase social support, and confront internal demons turning them into the loving blanket one desires. This has been a startling reminder to keep relying on my own internal strength, even if I don't feel that I have much of it, to battle my daily struggles.

Inhale, exhale, and keep going.

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