Friday, March 30, 2012

Fame Changes Things, Really?

Addiction Does Not Discriminate! That's the first and last thing I remember when I talked to my friend the other day about substance addiction. He said, "Drug addiction does not discriminate."

Vesta Williams
As I watched singer extraordinaire, Vesta Williams on Unsung (TVOne network show) for maybe the fourth time this past Sunday I couldn't help but once again be in awe of her magnificent voice, her stunningly beautiful looks and her heartbreaking story. Vesta was a lively, hilariously funny, warm and talented woman. I not only know this from people on TV saying so but I know it from my rare and touching moments being around her. At 53, she out sang any young or older woman I've seen in years. She would compete with any young'in of a dancer trying to outdo her, which you couldn't, on the dance floor, because she loved to dance as much as she loved to sing. And at 53, she not only died from an enlarged heart but probably from a broken one too.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston, another immeasurable talent some would say, "gone too soon." She let us into her beauty and her life, many times, too painful to view, from years of abusing her body with chemicals, but still, a woman we all wanted to know, be, hear, and judge. Yet, I'm reminded---addiction does not discriminate! I could say that over and over and over and still I think many of us would ask why would she do those things to herself? With all the money (and fame) why would someone like Whitney or Vesta do drugs?

When anyone becomes addicted to a substance "the substance becomes the focal point in one's life, despite the consequences," according to Luis Cruz, CASAC (Credentialed Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counselor), from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Division of Substance Abuse in the Bronx, NY. Dependence is when the body needs the addictive substance to function normally. Taking addictive substances on a regular basis has physical consequences like, physiological dependence and tolerance. When a person becomes addicted, all too often they will give reasons for needing the drug to do any daily activity (rationalization). As a result a tolerance forms and they begin using more of the same (and other types of drugs, including alcohol) to achieve the high they’re after. Dependency begets a cycle--a cycle of secretive behaviors and other patterns that an addict engages him/herself in to obtain whatever substance of choice necessary to use in order to maintain the addict’s precarious lifestyle.

Mr. Cruz also speaks to the issue of biological predisposition. He says that about 70-75% of addicted persons are biologically predisposed to substance addiction; meaning that many addicts have a family history of addiction that precedes them. Luis even goes as far as saying that there are addictive personality types. This is something I too, have learned and find true in human personalities. It's not to say that all people with particular personality traits are born into a drug life, however, sometimes what mental health professionals see in their practice is that there is evidence that predicts how certain personalities are motivated towards certain behaviors.

Recovery doesn't simply begin when a person puts down the drug and attends meetings but that recovery begins with changing the behaviors; changing the old way of one's thinking, doing and with whom you're doing your old behaviors with. It's an ongoing process, says Mr. Cruz. The truth statement isn't " I'm recovered, but I'm in recovery" and he stamps that with "once in recovery, always in recovery."

"Support is not what we often give our loved ones, including allowing ourselves to be guilted into giving them money whenever they need it or letting them be irresponsible to their parenting duties and such, which he so aptly calls 'enabling'. Supporting our loved ones through recovery is giving loving encouragement, setting boundaries and sometimes offering 'tough love' " he adds.

Closing out this Women's Month & Social Work Appreciation Month I challenge our readers, our society to renegotiate what it means to be human at any level of achievement. Challenge yourself to question what it means to be supportive of one another. This story is not one of comparing celebrity to layperson or fame to normalcy but it's one of confronting---confronting all of our extraordinary human expectations of ourselves and others to be perfect, to be without pain, hurt, or challenge. We are all challenged. We are all simply human beings trying to be better human, normal beings.

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At April 2, 2012 at 8:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You for the opportunity to provide my opinion on the topic of "Drug Addiction". I hope that people in general take the time to read information in your blog and that can heighten any individual's awareness on this topic. I admire your passion to educate the public on sucn prevalent issues, such as "Drug Addiction", that destoys a life every day. The disease of drug addiction is a cunning enemy of life.

"Keep Hope Alive".

At April 3, 2012 at 2:49 PM , Blogger The Collective A said...

And we thank you so much for contributing, Keep Hope Alive indeed.


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