Avoiding pain is natural. In fact that’s why it’s there. Pain is a signal to the brain letting us know that something is wrong. Through our efforts to avoid the uncomfortable we protect ourselves, our hearts and sometimes our lives. It’s in this way that most people understand and cope with pain. Whether healthy or unhealthy these are our coping skills and everyone has at least one. The list is endless and includes popular and colorful choices like drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, lying, exercise, over eating, under eating, music, over sleeping, under sleeping, hurting others and letting go of reality.

Drugs and alcohol are by far the most popular coping skill. Whether legal or illicit both are easily acquired. In fact let’s be very real about the subject. There is no war on drugs and every time a substance is banned it can be found in every neighborhood and on most street corners. Why is that? Money of course. The money that comes from drugs, criminalization and incarceration. Out of control drug addiction and a growing population of drug addicts has been the result.

Most know at least one drug addict. Maybe a family member or close friend. Or maybe someone from the past. A person no longer associated with. Taken off the chess board due to boundary violations. Infractions the addict found necessary and justified so that they may continue numbing their pain. No matter what form(s) the pain comes in the addict just wants the pain to stop. Some become overachieving experts at staying numb. Twenty-four seven around the clock machines with a never ending drug inventory. And most addicts are not monsters and creepers. Some of the most amazing people that I’ve known are hardcore drug users. I’m talking about artists, angels and fantastic people who have a way of connecting with others. Some are practically superheroes. Exhausted from empathy and self-sacrifice. Always working to save everyone except themselves. At times it seems like such a waste of talent but then I remember that great things tend to be hidden behind pain and tragedy. And our pain makes us who we our. It’s more than important. Pain is vital and necessary. And everything we experience and suffer through prepares us for something. We are all damaged.

J. S.

Spring 2019

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