There is a ‘deceptive influence’ brought on by mind and mood altering chemicals, the most prolific being at first point of contact. Ask any alcoholic what they got from their first interaction with alcohol; get them to reflect and explore precisely what took place within their personality a few seconds after the alcohol entered their system. Despite the fact that few if any will say how they actually enjoyed the immediate consumption experience, all will agree how the unpleasant effects of the taste were soon forgotten as the ‘influence’ of the chemical ‘took over’. Therefore it was not ‘the chemical going in’ that they became attracted to, it was ‘the influence that took over them’, and in the final analysis all invariably agree how they ‘received’ a shift in their personality predominantly made up of what turned out to be counterfeit and temporary sensations of Euphoria, Significance and Security.
I have becoming more and more convinced that the age of the paranoid parent is upon us. As addiction specialists we receive countless phone calls from parents in panic. We even get teenagers sent to our rehab because both parents have slipped into lying awake at night worrying. Many times, during family meetings at one of our facilities the mom will reveal; “whilst I was cleaning his room, I found this in his shoe” – and some form of drug paraphernalia will have been discovered. Invariably we then hear; ‘he’s been mixing with the wrong crowd for some time now’. The Biblical Link to Addiction and Recovery wants to suggest that we step back from the blame game and take another look. If you or someone you love is involved in dangerous chemical activity none of the progressive chaos is going to make sense until we are not asking the right questions. The problem of drug usage must never be approached as being created by ‘peer pressure’ or too rapidly categorized as ‘an addiction’.
We need to localize the problem and ask ourselves two questions:
- What type of personality gives in to peer pressures’?
- What happens to this person when they consume the chemical?
Peer pressure has never been the problem; giving in to the peer pressure, that’s the problem. For many, on experimentation day, the chemical influence felt like a coming out of a wilderness type of experience as they seemingly moved from an unidentified unsettled condition, into what they falsely perceive to be a place of arrival. However, in reality, contrary to the seemingly wonderful sense of fulfillment offered by the chemical, a very subtle process of decay begins. The essence of this decay is; that which we know to be wrong slowly starts sounding right and that which we know to be right slowly starts sounding wrong.
In my own book The Biblical Link to Addiction and Recovery I try to suggest that this ‘inside-out-morality’ is the spiritual and psychological DNA of the chemically dependent personality. All that therefore remains is to run the ‘new found personality’ through the wringer backwards in order to establish precisely what kind of individual it really was who sought out and settled for this counterfeit identity.
It is widely accepted that the chemical ‘offers the user something’, so, whatever it brings must have been absent prior to intake. Three common denominating conditions are frequently highlighted by somewhere in the region of 97% of addicts in a safe therapeutic environment who are asked the following question: ‘What did the chemical bring into your life at the start of your using? Each describes receiving feelings of Euphoria, Significance and Security and when our addicts are further probed and asked how they felt about themselves and their life prior to the chemical intake, they start to see how the chemical only offers them a counterfeit opposite:
- The antonym of Euphoria – dreary
- The antonym of Significance – unimportant
- The antonym of Security – lost
On the whole, that’s how we find most chemically dependent people felt about themselves and about their life before the chemical and they each seem to share a very common thread between them; the belief that the way they felt before the chemical was wrong. Many of them have had this belief compounded by parental messaged that those feelings are indeed wrong. Most parents want to implant within their child a ‘positive self image’ and do so by telling them things like ‘they are the best in their class, the prettiest, the most clever, doing brilliantly in sports, going to become captain etc’.
I believe most parents miss the most important need for healthy development of their child by not teaching the child how to lose with dignity. I believe too many children are too afraid of failing because of the ‘flattery’
Therefore, at First Point of Contact (FPC) with the influence of a chemical, our user experiences what really feels like a spiritual awakening. For the potential addict, this ‘awakening’ is their addictions conception. The monster within may only be in an embryonic state at FPC, but its development is thereafter unstoppable as long as it remains unidentified. The whole mindset of the pregnant one gradually turns right into wrong and what he or she knows to be wrong correspondingly starts sounding right. For instance, in the event of the primary chemical being legally restricted substance such as cocaine, this spiritual awakening is immediately supported by a criminal rationale, ‘I’m only buying it; I’m not guilty of any crime’, which in and of itself, tells us what form of ‘spirit’ we have ‘awakened’. So we see the outbreak of war between the mind, the desires and the conscience. The conscience try’s to keep right right but the chemically craving mind somehow seems to develop an arsenal of justifications and rationalizations for its shameful and potentially deadly choices. The process of time sees a dying conscience and growth in intolerance towards the truth. The mind becomes more and more comfortable with deceptive thinking and will always support the soon to be unquenchable cravings for more of the chemical or for approval or for romance, sex, power, finance; the list is sadly endless.
By entertaining the counterfeit spirituality, in the recreational phase, our potential addict unknowingly removes himself from his natural process of growth and development. It’s as if someone has pointed a remote control at the emotional process of the potential addict and pressed ‘slow motion’. Whilst the potential addict feels as if he is in ‘fast forward’ with counterfeit feelings of omniscience and omnipotence, the truth is he is deceived and blinded and will very soon cross a line in his drug using where his whole personality will go in to a maturational pause under the stranglehold of chemical dependency.
The first sign of an individual rejecting life’s regular growth process is, after FPC, against every ounce of common sense and in aggressive resistance to a stirring conscience, they somehow manage to make going back for another hit sound like a good idea.