Don’t worry about the Trigger, Unload Your Gun!
I have been working with the Dan Snook Foundation lately and after a radio interview have been amazed at the emotions at work in the field of working with young people who have experienced sexual and drug abuse. This organization knows first hand the dangers of not dealing with the root causes of addiction can be and is dedicated to making a difference to as many young people affected by sexual and drug abuse as possible and they need your help.
I have listened to many advocates who are worried about this and that trigger that could set off an addict into a state of relapse. There are as many triggers as there are addicts, actually more as each person who self medicates has many reasons to continue with their addiction if they do not deal with their core issues; the reasons they started self medicating to start with.
Nobody will take an opiate long term if they are not in some kind of pain. Most do not even know that they are tormented by inner pain. Have you ever been near a large generator or another piece of loud equipment and had habituated to the background noise? You eventually didn’t even notice it was on until someone shut it off and the silence was then staggering. Well that’s how an addict feels the first time the use.
You would not hesitate for a moment to accept an opiate in the emergency ward if you were rushed in with a broken hip but we expect street addicts to stop when their spirits or minds are screaming in inner pain.
So I have developed a philosophy over the years of working with addicts as a counsellor and I firmly believe that to truly stop the drug use you have to deal with the pain that they are using the drug to self medicate with. This is not popular with those preaching abstinence as they are constantly trying to get their clients to recognize their triggers to avoid another relapse but my approach has been to help the client unload their gun. It doesn’t matter who pulls the trigger if the gun is unloaded.
Part of healing is to relapse. Those preaching abstinence avoid this topic because it means failure to them. The problem is most clients do relapse and if they do not understand the dangers to them when this happens it can be fatal. Most addicts when they relapse use the same dose they were using when they stopped but that amount after they have been clean for a month or more will usually be fatal. They need to know this when they are going clean rather than have this information hidden because it is believed to be a part of their failure if it occurs. If the counsellor is helping them deal with their inner pain a relapse will prove to them that they are past the pain and self medicating will have a positive effect when it makes them ill. If they have this information given to them when they are dealing with their addiction they will hopefully survive their relapse and learn from their mistake.
So I have a goal now. To bring this knowledge to those working with addicts and to the addicts and their families. I truly believe that helping those who are self medicating to deal with their pain is the key to addiction counselling and to true long term remission.