Drug use and abuse...a messy subject Written by Brendan Mooney Psychologist
Marijuana, speed, ecstasy, MDMA, ice. It seems with each new year there is another variation on a drug that is available for people to use and abuse.
Many of us are well aware that commonly reported negative symptoms from drug use or abuse include:
Changes in appetite
But what if you were taking drugs and not experiencing any of these negative side effects? When these negative symptoms are not experienced it may be common for a person to assume that their drug of choice is not particularly harmful to them. However what if this is not the full picture?
What if we measured the impact of drug use or abuse differently? In other words, what if we also took into account the impact of drug use or abuse based on a person’s true potential?
For example, what if a person considered that if they had not used drugs they may have:
Saved a house deposit 10 years earlier
Taken their relationship to a much deeper level
Finished studying much earlier and would have been far more established into their career by now
Lived a far more steady and settled life beyond what they could ever have imagined was possible
And yet how do we measure the above? In other words, how do we become aware of the true cost of taking drugs when there are seemingly no negative symptoms? The above refers to things that may have taken place but didn’t, however how is a person likely to realise this?
It is akin to believing that your life turned out ok without realising that with different choices there was a whole other life that would have come about.
Tracking negative symptoms is easy and does indicate the more obvious impacts of drug use or abuse, but these symptoms do not tell the whole story of what is occurring. The real insidiousness of drug taking lies in theopportunities lost.
How does a person put a value on their lost potential?
Broadening the conversation of the real cost of drugs brings us to a greater awareness of what is going on in our communities and challenges us to look deeper at the real reason for addiction in the first place.
It is clear that despite the negatives of drug use that we are all taught in school, for many this does not act as a deterrent. Why is this? Perhaps this is because we do not explore and appreciate our full potential enough? With a lack of understanding of our innate potential we are already in dis-ease or ill at ease. This alone is conducive to a state of craving – a need to escape or alter our experience of life. When there is a lack of appreciation and self-worth there is no foundation from which to treat ourselves with the deep regard and care we innately deserve.
Drug taking becomes a distraction from this, albeit an unsustainable one. By looking at the full picture of drug use and abuse and not just the end symptoms we can begin to live in a way that prevents the possibility of drug abuse in the first place.
More will be written in an upcoming series of articles on this topic. If you would like to read more be sure to subscribe to receive email updates.
BIOGRAPHY Psychologist Brendan Mooney works with adults, adolescents and children. With a genuine interest in people's well-being, Brendan brings a warmth, practicality and an equality that supports clients to truly address underlying issues and blockages that are preventing them from moving forward.