Education on drug addiction is essential to building a more understanding society

Behind the stigmatic shroud that society drapes over drug culture is a reality which, for those living it, contains hardship, loneliness and despair. Drugs are seen by many as one of the world’s evils, with much, if not all educational content serving to discourage or demonise any use of drugs whatsoever. But, like crime, poverty, and disease, drug use is something that will never cease among the human population, so to help those who use drugs it is vital that we demystify the truth of the user.

There are many different types of user: those who use for fun, those who use for escape, those who use for self-exploration, those who use from loneliness. In many cases, they just wanted to feel the best feelings they could imagine; the only trouble is that drug use can lead down a deep and life-altering rabbit hole that some are unable to return from.

Having a human mind is a difficult thing to deal with. We are constantly at the mercy of our own nature, as well as our reward system which, for some, causes an impulsive tendency to turn to drugs in the pursuit of intense feelings of unreality and pleasure. On top of that, our powerful memories and sensory associations mean that once we feel the effects of mind-altering substances, it can be difficult to forget how they feel, potentially leading to reuse.

Some people have no issues with dependency or addiction and can use drugs recreationally safely and sporadically. For them, drug use is not particularly a huge problem, but for those whose brains are hardwired differently, whose nature is that of impulse and addiction, it can be a slippery slope. Drugs can go from being a recreational and fun activity to a coping mechanism in a short space of time – the more someone dependent on them uses, the more they need to use to get back up.

When you’re stuck in the life of drug use – or drug abuse – little else exists, little else matters. What was once important diminishes into the background like everything else, and it’s in this way that people can lose everything, from money to employment to family. The only thing that remains is the inner world of escape and chaos that is only worsened the more a person uses and the more a person loses. It’s at this point that the user becomes isolated from society and demonised by the general population, so the only place they can turn to is deeper into the drug world and to those who are part of it. And it’s here that we need to learn to be more understanding.

There exists among users a very gentle and kind connection: one of empathy, compassion and respect. Users can relate to each other in a way that can only be paralleled by those who have undergone hardship together. Most have been through a whirlwind of struggle, often involving mental health issues, loss and hopelessness.

If we could recognise the best in people instead of judging the worst, it may be possible to help those who have found themselves in a struggle with drug use. Although there is some magic to be found on Cloud 9, beware, because it’s a long way down.

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