The Truth About Addictions

BY JONATHAN NELSON

I have been serving in the substance abuse and cooccurring disorder field since graduating with my Masters in Clinical Social Work. The company that I work for, along with America as a whole, have embraced the “disease model” of addiction. One cannot argue about the realities of what happens to the brain and its intricate communication system when substances are introduced into the body…there are structural and functional changes to the brain…this cannot be denied. Left unchanged, the brain will adapt and the user will eventually continue to use until he or she is dead…and in my world, there are fates worse than physical death!

When I work with clients, I tell them matter of factly that, “I don’t care about your drug problem, it’s not important…what I care about is what is fueling your drug use.” And there is the rub ladies and gentlemen. THE most difficult action that a client can take, and few do, is look at their reflection in the mirror. For many clients, using substances has been their “eject button” from life. As soon as they experience turbulence of any kind or to a certain degree, they resort to what they know will give them immediate relief…the needle…the bottle…the line of snow…the joint. And it will. As they hit that eject button…off they go…10,000 feet into the air, far above the turbulent airplane and the chaos below them…and they are high…but as the saying goes, “What goes up…”

And down they come. Oh they will feel good for a season of time…but that will not last…and they will find behind them a trail of destruction that they cannot undo. In my experience, clients must have four (4) items qualities in order to gain their freedom:

1. Willingness – The client must be willing to do whatever is necessary to break free from his or her drug. 
2. Ability – The client must be able to apply the knowledge that he or she is learning to his or her life.
3. Readiness – The client must be ready on their own to embrace a new way of living, acting, and reacting.
4. Surrender – The client must hold no “ace up his/her sleeve” No tricks, no games, they’re completely done.

What word does that spell: WARS…because that’s EXACTLY what my clients will be walking into when the leave my treatment program. They will be going to war…and the battle doesn’t start when they are discharged…it starts the moment they look in the mirror and in their heart say, “I’m ready to face that which I’ve been running from my whole life…I’m ready to discover what needs to die within me and the new source of life that needs to take its place.” When my clients can begin to look at treatment as basic military training and recovery as the “World War Me” of their lives…they have a new perspective…because the enemy (addiction, drugs, pushers etc.) will be scoping them out from miles away…and like any soldier on patrol…the head must be on a swivel…knowing that at any moment they can take fire. That’s how client’s live…living as if they could get shot at…invited to a party…receive a text message etc. They need to know that they may not be dodging bullets…but they sure are dodging “mines of the mind” that will tear them to shreds if they aren’t careful. 

I don’t care about a client’s drug problem…that’s relatively easy to treat…it’s staying clean and sober for the long haul that is the challenge. I grew up in Southern California and since I was the only male in the home, I was responsible for all the “manual outdoor labor.” So I was tasked with weeding the backyard at 13 years of age. Now I grew up on a granite mountain of sorts and I hated weeds…so I did what any normal lazy teenager would do…grab the scissors and cut the weeds off at the surface and sprinkle some dirt and I’m good to go. “Very good” my mother would say…and off I would go…thinking I was good to go. Until. They grew back…quickly.

I had to surrender to the fact that I was lazy and didn’t do the work that was necessary. I had to get on my hands and knees, I had to use tools, I had to cut my hands on the thorns and work in the heat, with possible snakes and other insects lurking about. It was damn hard breaking through the ground with a pick axe…but I got it…eventually. I got to the root…and out it came…no more weeds.

It’s the root that is the culprit. It’s the root, the trauma, the abuse, the molestation, the violence, the pain that has been cleverly disguised and masked or buried under the sand of responsibility, happy feelings and other such nonsense. What was the client’s life BEFORE the drug got to you? What role or need did the drug fill in your life? These are the questions that unlock the door to the shed…where those tools are…where change occurs…and where they face their own reflection. 

About Jonathan:

 I am a 35 year old white red blooded American. I am here to serve those who want to better their lives. I hold a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work, a LCSW in the state of Florida and am a Masters Level Certified Addictions Professional. I believe I have a natural ability to write and speak and was delighted to see this on Michael Savage’s website. I find myself saying the same things over and over and over to clients and the parents and community that I interact with, it was nice to have the opportunity to write it out and share it to the one person who will screen this. Thank you for the opportunity to share a piece of my heart and mind.

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