There are two separate groups that become addicted to chemicals. (1) Those who came from functional homes, where as a child they received their hierarchy of emotional needs and (2) those that didn’t. The majority of the addicted filling our jails and prisons, come from distracted homes where they were disconnected from the life force that largely determines their success in life. We must remember that our long term memory or subconscious mind is programed through repetition, trauma, and emotion. What ever goes in stays in and controls our thoughts and behaviors. We have a substance abuse epidemic because we have an epidemic of dysfunctional parent(s) raising emotionally damaged children in a dysfunctional society.
Much of what is assumed of addiction is wrong. Applying current orthodox, status quo treatment modalities for group two substance abusers has been proven ineffective, as can be seen at the local jail where over 90% are re- peat offenders and the majority of those are substance abusers. Addiction has more to do with low self worth of the individual, largely brought on by early childhood abuse and negative modeling, where the individual did not receive his/her hierarchy of emotional needs which are: validation, affirmation, unconditional love, understanding, appreciation, and security. When things go bad we go to our lowest level, our childhood. For the group two addicted this creates more sadness and pain. There is no place to go or hide!
It is impossible for humans to stay emotionally and mentally healthy without having their hierarchy of emotional needs met. Most addicts can’t bare to be present in their life. They have to go elsewhere in order to emotionally and mentally survive. That “elsewhere” is often drugs that deaden the reality of their life. Every child will go into the forest and meet the bear. However when they leave the bear stays behind. Not so with abused, disconnected children, the bear goes with them, often for a lifetime. The life spring of each individual is their connection to the source of happiness, contentment, and progress, that is their hierarchy of emotional needs.
Substance abusers are like animals in a pen held captive by bad choices and the chemical(s) of their choice. They have surrendered their freedom and empowered chemicals to control their lives. Their sensibility has been hijacked as the drug molecules have played havoc with their brain cells, decreasing their cognitive abilities to make rational decisions. They have temporarily cut the cords that nourished them. They deny, rationalize, and blame others. They inhabit a world of tangled relationships, anger, legal, financial, physical, mental, and emotional problems. Happiness and progress eludes them.
Opposite to an addicts needs of bonding in connected human relationships, is our present system that pours fuel on their problems by isolating them and throwing up barriers to their recovery. Without successfully intervening into the thinking errors that drive their criminal/addicted behavior, we can expect continued high recidivism rates and increased crime. Research has shown that people who have their emotional needs met are many times less likely to become addicted. Not only were most addicts, through no fault of their own, victimized as children, but keep getting re-victimized by a society that could help, but doesn’t understand.
Two of the most researched and trusted intervention methods are the sciences of criminogenics and cognitive restructuring. If we never change addicted thinking, we can never change addicted behavior. If a system/ curriculum can meet the dynamic pro-social needs of the addicted, it can be highly successful. If it doesn’t, little or no success can be expected. The criminal justice system is not designed to meet the pro-social criminogenic or hierarchy of emotional needs of addicts and therefore in of itself can’t successfully rehabilitate offenders.
There is much we can do to help offenders/addicts. We must avoid the serenity trap that can crush us into weakness and denial. Those needs we can’t help with are called static factors that have happened in the past, such as a criminal record. Those we can help with are called dynamic factors, such as self worth. If a problem doesn’t defy the laws of gravity, it can be fixed. If we thoroughly understand the problem we can apply vital strategies and high leveraged behaviors that can successfully intervene to solve the problem. One of the most important first step intervention (vital strategy and high leveraged behavior) is a curriculum that combines criminogenics and cognitive restructuring.
LAMENTATION OF THE ADDICTED
I am but a shadow on the wall.
No one cares for me at all,
how far can I fall.
Do I matter at all?
My life is like the wind,
it is easy to become unhinged,
and flap in the wind,
and follow my peers into the whirlwind.
The bluebird has his nest,
I have no place to rest.
Why should I do my best,
when in the end I will fail my test?
The dark of night,
turns to fright.
I have lost my will to fight,
I am only left with flight.
Chemical addiction is one of society’s worse problems. It seeps into almost every fabric of human life from shoplifting - domestic violence - accidents - mental, emotional, physical health - crime - employment - and death. It is a destroyer of human relationships. It holds the addicted captive and takes away his/her freedom. Its destructive power is generational, effecting offspring for generations. The cost is staggering. A light cruiser won’t get the job done, it will take a battleship with many weapons on board; the chief weapon being criminogenics.
Written By Larry Lloyd - Founder of ACCI Lifeskills