More people quit addictions than maintain them, and they do so on their own. That's not to say it happens overnight. People succeed when they recognize that the addiction interferes with something they value—and when they develop the confidence that they can change.
Another fellow, a former "addict" notes that his urge to be a drug addict sort of faded away over time:
When I stopped shooting coke and heroin, I was 23. I had no life outside of my addiction. I was facing serious drug charges and I weighed 85 pounds, after months of injecting, often dozens of times a day.
But although I got treatment, I quit at around the age when, according to large epidemiological studies, most people who have diagnosable addiction problems do so—without treatment. The early to mid-20s is also the period when the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for good judgment and self-restraint—finally reaches maturity.I found this last part fascinating as age 25 was when I stopped using drugs - even alcohol - as I realized it was leading me nowhere. Why do some people walk away from the drug scene, and yet others stay in it - often until "death do us part"?
The problem I see is that when we create a role for people to play, many people will play it. People stop living their lives and start playing roles, with defined behaviors, attitudes, and even a dress code. Maybe half the country is doing this at one time or another. Granted, many of these roles are harmless enough, or arguably have positive social vales - Soccer Mom, Striving Yuppie, Working Stiff. Others are not as positive, for society or the individual - Social Activist, Slacker, Stoner, Drug Abuser, Crack Whore.
People just get worn down by all of this. We are supposed to "feel sorry" for people who won't even take care of themselves and moreover, make our lives a little (or a lot) more miserable. How come they get a free pass, while we are held accountable for our errors?
Of course, to even suggest this is to be called a Cruel Heartless Bastard (CHB) by the far-left, who thrives on this addiction narrative - because half of them are stoned most of the time (I say this from experience). "We need to fund more treatment centers!" they cry, not realizing that we can't fund even 1/10 of what we would need to do to treat all the mentally ill and drug-addicted we already have on the streets today.
As the article cited above notes:
The average cocaine addiction lasts four years, the average marijuana addiction lasts six years, and the average alcohol addiction is resolved within 15 years. Heroin addictions tend to last as long as alcoholism, but prescription opioid problems, on average, last five years. In these large samples, which are drawn from the general population, only a quarter of people who recover have ever sought assistance in doing so (including via 12-step programs). This actually makes addictions the psychiatric disorder with the highest odds of recovery.
It is an interesting viewpoint. And it begs the question as to whether "treatment" is really helping the majority of addicts, or whether it is merely giving them a new role to play in the game.
This is not to say we have no compassion. But there are people out there with real medical problems. Folks who have cancers, hereditary disorders, traumatic injuries, or chronic illnesses that are not the result of their own behaviors. You have to put this shit into perspective. Saying that someone "can't help themselves" seems a little too pat an answer, particularly when others seem to be able to help themselves or avoid such perils to begin with.
One reason I got out of the drug thing is that I saw my peers going down a dark path. I made a choice, and that has made all the difference in the world. It was the early 1980's and the coke boom of the disco era was just wearing off. A friend of mine got into that, and I stopped being friends with him as a result. That was the smartest and best thing I could have done. And no, I had no obligation to "save" him, and even if I had tried, it would have been fruitless and pointless and would have dragged me down with him. When someone drives their car off a cliff, make sure you are not in the back seat!
Another friend called me one day and said I needed to try this "rock cocaine" they had discovered. This was before the term "crack" was invented. I took a pass and waved goodbye to more drug friends. Another friend started smoking opium, and I realized I really needed to find new friends.
They made shitty choices. I made better ones. We need to reward better choices more and discourage shitty choices. And yes, that sounds "harsh" but it is actually a loving thing. Indulging people is really a cruelty. When you say "Yes" to a child's every whim, you are not doing that child a favor, but setting them up for heartbreaking cruelty later in life, when they discover that not everything goes their way.
I guess the point is, it seems we lavish too much attention on drug addicts these days. No, maybe we aren't providing enough "treatment centers" or whatever. But that is part of the problem - we posit the problem is not spending enough money on drug users rather than something simple like blowing up the world headquarters of the companies pushing this poison through doctors. Just Kidding. Don't want Office of Homeland Security to come a-knocking.
This idea that the dregs of our society should be elevated on a platform as the "noble homeless" or the "sainted poor" or the "helpless drug addict" is, I think, an unhealthy obsession both for our country and for the Democratic Party. Yes, being poor and homeless sucks - it should. When we make it comfortable, fewer and fewer people will bother trying to find a better way. Similarly, when we make being a drug addict a career choice, where you can get high all day long and just dial 911 for your free Narcan shot, maybe fewer and fewer people will find a need to stop shooting up.
As the first article above notes, "People succeed when they recognize that the addiction interferes with something they value—and when they develop the confidence that they can change." When we make addiction not interfere, then there is no need to not be an addict.
Drugs are a dead-end. Making them more attractive as a lifestyle isn't the answer to the problem.