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, overeating, under-eating, music, oversleeping, 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. 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 comes from drugs, criminalization, and incarceration. Out of control drug addiction, and a growing population of drug addicts has been the result.
Most of us know at least one drug addict—possibly a family member, close friend, or maybe someone from the past. A person no longer associated with, taken off the chessboard due to boundary violations, infractions the addict found necessarily justified so that they may continue numbing their pain. Some become overachieving experts at staying numb—twenty-four-seven around the clock machines with one goal: A never-ending drug inventory.
Most addicts are not monsters or creepers. Some of the most amazing people that I’ve known are hardcore drug users. I’m speaking of artists, angels, and fantastic people who have a way of connecting with others. Some are practically superheroes, although 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 are. It’s more than essential: Pain is vital and necessary. Everything we experience and suffer through prepares us for something. We are all damaged.