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."
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, 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
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.
Labels: Entertainment, Mental Health, Wellness