Missionary Papers: The Cross & The Culture
The Behaviour of Drug Addiction:
Behaviour and Choice:
Human behaviour is something people choose to do, not something that happens to them. The modern Western World lives with great conveniences. One such convenience is the ability to obscure the lines between “force” and “choice.” The unbridled ability to choose destructive lifestyles, then later claim such choices were forced by environment, disease, happen-stance, etc. has become the societal scapegoat. We live with the costly convenience of a lack of self-control, by choice.
The more interaction I have with this world’s mental aptitude, I see their desire to eliminate any sense of personal responsibility. The current outlook on life suggests environment is control and subjective measures of disease excuse behaviour. At no point is the individual considered from the perspective of personal ability or desire. We are expected to assume some outside forces caused the person’s behaviour to be made manifest, the individual had no choice in the matter. Environmental factors likely caused the decision made or the troubles extant. The world’s requirement behaviour be explained in terms of external forces with no consideration for internal processes (desire, decisions, self-control, lack of self-control, etc.) provides for many unexplainable situations. For example, (SAMHSA) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a survey in 2013 that produced statistics showing some 9.4% of the US population, ages 12 and older, use illegal drugs in some form. That number was up from 8.3% in their previous survey. Speaking in terms of environmental control, it seems reasonable 90.7% of the country has more influence than that of 9.3%. This would indicate to me, if the environment were the prevailing factor, the overall environment’s lack of drug use would have influenced a reduction over time, not an increase.
This mentality regarding addiction as a disease is more infectious than the proposed disease. More importantly, this thought process has serious repercussions in the world of addiction. The proposal people use drugs due to some uncontrollable external apparatus is enabling generations of addicts. I’m not suggesting then that a different form of external environmental force would necessarily change the addict’s behavior. I am suggesting proper thinking regarding addiction would provide necessary accountability and thereby motivate the internal decision making of addicts. Some show complete disregard for accountability, I believe proper motivation would assist better decisions regarding drug use. The implication drug use lies beyond the control of the individual, and that drug use is ineluctable has done much to harm individual battles against addiction. Thus consent to the idea environment is the key factor, then change the environment.
As expected, hypocrisy comes with this territory. Addictions uncontrollable nature is only applied to an addict after drug use has set them down the path of trouble. This may be the most devastating aspect of this mentality. A moment of accountability rears its ugly head, only to have the addict saved from its clutches by a new label. This label serves to redefine the terrible series of choices the addict made as unfortunate functions of a disease they possess. Any personal responsibility is respectfully removed because we have compassion for individuals that suffer from a disease. Once the disease is diagnosed, the addict is handed a powerful tool of manipulation used to maintain their chosen lifestyle.
Basic interaction with man reveals decisions are not always made to pursue the best of interests. The character of our country is not what it once was. Life’s base underlying anxieties have not changed over the centuries, expectations are relatively the same. This is a major aspect to the relevancy of God’s word in our lives. The God of the Bible created man, he knows our frame and speaks in written form with fashion not bound by time. Man hasn’t changed, man’s needs haven’t changed. Certainly, technology has advanced, interactions have been modified, but there is nothing new under the sun. Yet as our major cities carry on, the new norm comes with intravenous drug paraphernalia.
Behaviour and Disease:
In 1976 “alcoholism” became known as “Alcohol Dependence Syndrome.” This proposal marked a notable conceptual change to ideas regarding addiction. It started via debate amongst statisticians over “bi-modality” vs “uni-modality” forms of distribution in terms of alcohol abuse. Statistics of the day seemed to suggest “alcoholism” was uni-modal in distribution thereby harming its prevailing philosophical relevance. In other words, objective data suggested being a drunkard was not some sort of one-off disease or uncontrollable psychological defect. Collected surveys in the 1970s indicated a number of people moved in and out of the realm of description known as “alcoholism” often at random. Furthermore, it was discovered the definition of “alcoholism” as a drinking problem was quite malleable and arbitrary. No objective measure of what “experts” would call “alcoholism” existed. Reports described varying levels of alcohol consumption, but dubbed their particular description of that consumption as symptomatic of what was then known as “alcoholism.”
Alcohol consumption within the realm of disease was further damaged when studies noted victims of this disease had at random times stopped consuming alcohol on their own accord. Prevailing ideas regarding alcohol as a disease did not allow for such behaviour. Yet again, based upon objective data of the day this philosophical approach was damaged. At least momentarily. Truth would not prevail in this realm for long, soon the men responsible for noting alcoholism was not the disease previously supposed just made up a new proposal. They suggested the cause of alcoholism was more broad and more complex than first thought. The move from bi-modal distribution to uni-modal distribution should have been the first clue, and indeed was momentarily, that it’s not more complex than first thought. Alcohol is the problem, its varied use in society doesn’t give clues as to why some “abuse” it, use of alcohol itself is abuse. It’s a drug like any other.
But, let’s examine behaviour regarding alcohol in terms of disease, for a moment lets allow the prevailing thought to exist as though it were real. As I write this America is currently on lockdown due to the COVID-19, Chinese Flu Pandemic. Orders across America have been given to self-quarantine. The purpose of these high-levels of social distancing is to prevent further contact with the virus. Preventing contact theoretically prevents further spread. Were we to treat alcohol like it were a disease, it would seem prudent to quarantine all homes and all businesses from the object of the disease. Remove this product which has been so harmful and destructive from any possible human contact. Some 88,000 people die per year, year after year, from alcohol and alcohol-related incidents in America alone. Globally an estimated 3 million deaths occur yearly, placing alcohol amongst the top killers world-wide. Considering our current distress with the Chinese Flu, the disease of addiction to alcohol seems to fit the definition of at least an epidemic in America. And yet I have seen no shut-downs to resolve the safety of the public. Maybe because leaders of the American Republic consume this deadly substance.
Let’s further discuss this behaviour in terms of a presumed disease. I have friends that have serious allergies to peanuts. Consumption of peanut or peanut-based foods could land them in the hospital. As a result of such serious dangers, many restaurants post signs informing the public their foods are made with peanut-based oils, etc. The danger is very real, and since this is based on biological mechanisms that are beyond the control of the person with the allergy, they must stay away from products that could cause serious harm or death. Yet drug addicts are given synthetic forms of their drug of choice in methadone clinics and alcoholics can, while intoxicated, enter a business and purchase more alcohol freely. While people with real diseases try and stay away from causal factors, those with the disease of addiction search for it and buy it.
Nonetheless, Alcohol Dependence Syndrome was born, and rather than correcting the course in terms of proper philosophical approach to addiction it stood to unite wildly varying philosophies. It came to be the “coexist” of the addiction world. This notes the stubborn mindsets regarding addiction as well as other theories in the world of mental health. Refusing to change course regardless of factual data available.
Addiction became this unexplainable state of being for which subjective opinions across varying disciplines agree exists. This unexplainable state somehow eradicates the ability of the infected individuals to make choices, at least in terms of their relationship to a particular substance. This loss of ability to make choices or assume personal control of their behaviour identifies individuals as being abnormal and therefore a victim of this state or disease. This clouded concept between voluntary behaviour and uncontrollable addiction serves to produce much confusion and certainly is not helpful.
Allow me to conclude with the word of God. Proverbs 23:29-35 (KJV) “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”
In all my reading regarding this topic, never have I read such a clear and honest description of the life of an addict. Woe, sorrow, contentions, babbling, wounds without a cause, and redness of eyes. Some more than others, the street addict symptomatically displays the realities of their situation, while high-level executives conceal the sins that so easily beset them. Either way, they awake and seek it yet again all the same. Consider the biblical instruction: “Look not thou…” Do not even set your eyes upon the substance that you allowed to assume so much control of your life. Of course, it’s given with the expectation individuals will make proper choices in light of such wisdom. How far would addiction progress in the lives individuals committed to following biblical instruction and refuse to set eyes upon their substance of choice. The bite of a serpent, the sting of an adder, perverted lifestyles involving strange women, perverse utterings that proceed from the heart: this is the biblical warning to all that toy with such danger. Make the choice now, refuse to seek it yet again!
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