October 4, 2014

There’s No Such Thing as an Addict.



I’d like to set the record straight.

There are no addicts, no alcoholics, no manic depressives, no schizophrenics, no teachers and no students.

We are all who we are. We are all learners. We are all humans.

In January of 2013, I wrote a blog post on my personal site called My Brother is an Addict. I’m not linking to it, because I don’t want you to read it. I’d like to delete it, but maybe I won’t. It represents the evolution of my point of view.

In February of 2014, beloved and talented actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman died, of a heroin overdose. I wrote a blog post called Addiction is a Brain Disorder. I wrote:

Let us remember that while we are all addicted to some things—(I, for example, am addicted to yoga and meditation and chocolate and my daughter and love and my self-worth and plenty of other things)—we cannot understand the mind of an addict any more than we can the mind of a schizophrenic.

Addicts need nothing more than our kind, compassionate, loving help, society’s help and medical help.

(Was that really only this year? It has been a long year, full of Hollywood deaths. And it’s only October.)

Mind: Opened.

My paradigm has shifted immensely this year, especially with regard to how I view education, learning, addiction, rewards and consequences, mind and body, yoga and mindfulness.

After Robin Williams’ suicide in August, I wrote a post about depression which reflected my evolving viewpoint.

On some level we are separate. … But, on a deeper level, we are all connected. The same organs making up the same systems. The same neurons. The same emotions. The same fears. The same desire for love, acceptance, peace, happiness.

In September, I confessed to being a gringa and wrote:

Can there be justice or peace or happiness as long as there are still so many human beings suffering from poor global management—as long as hunger, malnutrition, extreme poverty and rampant corruption still exist? I have a happy life, but I mustn’t become complacent. I must use my power to serve others. To do that, I must take good care of myself.

My brother is not an addict.

He is a human being (which is to say a co-creator of his life as it unfolds) who has dealt with drug addiction issues and has also experienced being a non-user of recreational drugs and alcohol.

My brother is not bipolar or manic depressive, he is a human being who has dealt with manic highs and the depths of despair and been diagnosed, “clinically.” (As have I.)

My best friend is not an alcoholic.

She is a human being who has dealt with death, grief, change, loss, pain and desire by drinking too much, and she’s also experienced (experiencing) life as a human being who does not drink to excess, ever, though she may have a glass of wine or two if she feels like it.

I am not bipolar, and neither is my mother. Manic depression isn’t a mental illness, it’s the vicissitude of human emotion taken to the extreme. Medication may help or it may be necessary, but it just as well may not.

Life is life.

Separation is an illusion. Every part of our lives (and the universe) is interconnected—and everything is in flux, all the time.

Shifting our language and thinking in these subtle but important ways changes everything.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Wikimedia Commons 


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