So, I was just watching This is Life about substance use and got to talking with Bryan and Andrew about why some substance abuse interventions don’t work. I am not an expert in substance abuse but I do have some wonderings, if you will.
Imagine, you are shopping for shoes with people you really love and you want these people to really love you too. For the sake of this example, imagine one of those people is your mom and she picks out a pair of shoes that SHE loves but YOU really don’t like. And, you try the shoes on and SHE LOVES them, she calls her friends, takes pictures, and encourages you to buy these shoes. But, not only do you not like them but they hurt your feet. BUT, because you love your mom and you want her approval, you buy the shoes. (this is not an indictment on wonderful mothers everywhere, it is just an example)
I hope you are still with me here.
Now, you go about wearing these uncomfortable shoes that now you say you love BUT they really hurt. Rather than risk telling your mom or anyone else you don’t like the shoes you take ibuprofen to dull the pain. Initially, that works but eventually it’s not strong enough. So, you mix it with alcohol or maybe even heroin (I mean these are painful shoes).
Maybe you are saying, JUST TAKE OFF THE SHOES!
But what if by shoes I mean your religion, your husband, your wife, your kids, your house, your sexuality. What if taking off the shoes means risking disappointing people you love? What if you have been wearing them so long you forget that is what is causing you pain? What if you don’t know who you are without the shoes? What if you feel like now you can’t win even if you take the shoes off because now you’re drinking/drugging too much?
What if you’re scared to even admit to yourself you don’t like the shoes because you’ve been telling everyone for years that you love them? Maybe you never even considered that you had a choice as to whether or not to buy the shoes let alone wear them.
I think we all shove our feet into uncomfortable shoes from time to time.
Listen, substance abuse is extremely complicated and this example is not an attempt at capturing the many dimensions of why people use/abuse.
Just some thoughts.