How We Think.

April 20, 2011

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
– Henry David Thoreau
I immediately connected with Thoreau when I read this phrase; it is one of the those pieces of prose that is tattooed on my subconscious. It’s really a simple thing. We are imperfect beings on an imperfect, fallen world. When – God, if – we come across something that makes us feel better – even for a little while – it is completely natural for us to do that thing. I would say it is inevitable that we do that thing.

Under the right circumstances, anyone would use, and become addicted to, heroin. The only reason more people don’t do drugs is because they have no idea how they make you feel. I’m here to tell you: cocaine is not an acquired taste. Yet there are a whole lot of people in this world who hear words like “heroin” and “cocaine,” and swiftly mount their high horse (named Judgy McJudgensteed). 

Knowledge is the primary thing (which is not the same as the only thing) that seperates the addict from the non-addict. When heroin, or cocaine, or methamphetamine or WHATEVER crosses the blood-brain barrier for the first time, the user experiences something that approximates the tasting of the tree of knowledge of good and evil all over again. It is impossible to un-ring that bell.
So it’s not fair for you, the non-addict, to judge us the same way you would judge yourself. We are operating under a different set of facts than you are. For you getting through a day without using means…nothing. You did nothing, you resisted nothing, because you know nothing (sorry man, no offense). But we, the addicts, know things. We know how every anxiety in the world washes away – even if for a little while – with one dose of a certain chemical. And if you’ve got a lot of anxiety, a lot of dissonance, a lot of sadness, or loneliness, or anger – knowing makes the doing all but inevitable.
Getting through one day under that set of facts makes me, the addict, a damn hero. This is why AA and NA are fascinated with days. Our milestones are measured in days. We say things like ”one day at a time.” Because a day can be real shit. And we know things. It seems silly to some people the way they give out chips at AA meetings. Not me. I see a guy with 100 days getting a chip and I’m looking at a freaking wizard. A quintuple-degree ninja blackbelt. I got more respect for that guy than the president of the United States. 

The one on the left is one of the first enablers.

Human beings have been getting themselves messed up since the beginning of time, because that is precisely how long we have been imperfect creatures living on a fallen planet. This is nothing new. What modern science has done over the last hundred years or so, is give us the ability to get effed up in an extremely efficient manner. Oh, and we made the concept of physical addiction more than a theoretical possibility. We are way beyond chewing on a coca leaf or drinking the juice from a fermented piece of fruit. Somewhere around the time we synthesized diacetylmorphine, roughly 1895, we unleashed a new tree of knowledge of good and evil on humanity.

As a species, we have not yet un-rung that bell. And I doubt we ever will. But the kind of thinking that creates an addict isn’t evil. It is characteristically human.

3 Responses to “How We Think.”

  1. Lauren Touart said

    Hey, have been thinking of you a lot lately as we have been closely following your blog. Several times I have wanted to leave a comment only I couldn’t seem to conjure up anything insightful or especially witty or even interesting for that matter so I decided to do nothing until now. Not that what I have to say today is special for that matter, but I found myself driving behind a Prius this morning, thought of you instantly and chuckled aloud to myself. Just wanted you to know that we are sending lots of positive energy your way and wishing you a speedy recovery – no pun intended:) Just know that you aren’t alone and that you have a lot of people that care about you and are here to help you get better.

    P.S. Henry David Thoreau is one of my all time favorite philosophers and poets so I very much enjoy that you reference his work frequently.

  2. Anonymous said

    Great blog. Just some thoughts below from an honest reader…

    I don’t not do drugs because I don’t know how they make me feel. I don’t do them because they are illegal and harmful to my health.

    And I can’t speak for others, but for me there is no high horse. There’s only the reality that drugs impede a person’s ability to function normally.

    For example, if I had a choice of getting on to 1 of 2 airplanes knowing that on airplane A, the pilot is on drugs (cocaine and/or heroin) and on airplane B, the pilot was not. Having no other information, I would most definitely choose airplane B. The pilot for airplane A may have a perfectly good reason for being on drugs, so I’m not judging him at all. I’m just choosing the pilot that’s not on drugs.

    No judgment here. Your fight is a noble one. It sounds like you have a lot to live for. Keep writing…

    • rabe76 said

      Thank you so much for your insight. You’re exactly right, there is a middle ground there, a category that a lot of people fall into – like yourself, it sounds like – that is neither judgmental nor necessarily approving. There are just certain people you encounter that assign a special stigma to drugs like heroin and cocain, yet drink 12 beers a day and think they don’t have the same problem I do. Thank you for reading; you obviously put some thought into your comment. Thank you for that.

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