Normative Crisis

How can pain help the those with the disease of addiction ?
If we never felt pain then, it can be argued, we would never learn. Think of the child first learning to walk and explore their environment, falling over, touching hot things experiencing the anguish of moving away from Mum for the first time; these are all vital learning experiences. And so it goes on in life. Remember the pain from your first adolescent love and how hard it seemed at the time but I think most of us will agree we would not have thanked others if they had denied us of that great piece off learning.
In the world of addiction those of us who have suffered or are suffering from this cruel disease know just how much we see our drug of choice as a medicine and not, as Earthlings may see it, as a party-time enhancer. For us it helps push down the so-hard-to-bear emotions that would otherwise assuredly overwhelm our extra-sensitive selves. Maybe this works for us for a long time. We do not see the destructive nature of our addiction; for us it is simply the very thing that helps through life. However there always comes the time when our wonder-medicine ceases to work. For me this became a time of dark desperate despair where my ultimate wish was simply to cease to exist, not commit suicide you understand but rather just not be in the world any more.
In the life cycle of a person with a Pathological Dependency to my drug of choice, a state of being where I could not face a day without my fix, this was my Normative Crisis. I say “normative” because this is a stage all those seeking recovery must past through; it’s no different to all the other really important learning experience throughout my life. Since this time I heard many phrases that help describe this happening:
Sick of being sick,
The drugs have stopped working
You can’t live with the drugs and you can’t live without them
For me the resolution came when I heard it was possible to get better, there was a way out of this morass. I slowly began to understand that it was the drugs that were controlling my decision making and it was the drugs that were creating the living hell that were the consequences of using them. That helped me, through the help of others, put down the drugs that I had used as a medicine for so long and adopt another method of coping with my underlying super-sensitiveness to emotion. It was this form of recovery that was to become the base of the treatment offered by Addictions UK to many others of us with this illness.
If there has to pain in order to learn and, in our case, recover, where does this leave all those well-meaning parents and drugs workers that seek to rescue us from ever feeling the pain? By this I mean the parents who continually bail us out of financial scrapes and the drug workers who offer alternative “safe” drugs and sort out housing when we find we have spent all our money on our medicine. Any addict will tell you that those “safe” drugs are simply for breakfast; we still need the real thing. Mum and Dad are very well meaning but let’s be honest: those of us with this terrible affliction see them only as our personal finance house. It has to be the case that all that well-meaning intervention acts as nothing more than enablement that puts off the day of reckoning when we must pass through the pain of learning that our medicine does not work and we have to find another way.
So there we have it: the life cycle of our illness goes through the initial joy of finding a drug of choice that nulls the aching pain of over-sensitivity through the endless groundhog days of active addiction into a world of pain involving either physical torment and/or mental anguish and finally into the daylight of recovery.
They asked me on the BBC radio recently, “what creates the desire in an addict to change?” and my answer was, “the Normative Crisis of pain”. I suppose it would have seemed quite strange for the listeners to hear that but, as they say, “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs”.
If you think that maybe Addictions UK could help you too, contact us now on line or telephone 0300 330 30 40.

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