Drugs and Alcohol and Young People

From a talk by Tim Jackins to a group of young people in January 2003

The use of drugs and alcohol causes great concern among us older people, great worry about the younger generation.

Addictions are patterns. We can be addicted to a lot of things. In U.S. culture, what are commonly called addictions are chemical, but in RC we know that all patterns are addictive. Some patterns make us fascinated—we want to do something over and over again. Many other patterns addict us to not doing things. Which of your patterns make you afraid to do something—or too embarrassed, too ashamed, too humiliated to do it?

A common addiction is food. “I can’t bear to study. Where’s the food?” For some of us, television turns into an addiction. We don’t want to go to bed. We feel too lonely. The nightmares wait for us. We sit up and watch empty or troubled things for hours, trying to stay awake. We get addicted. The pattern urges us to replay it, to keep repeating it over and over again. Some people get fascinated with horror movies. They go see one, they get scared, and afterward they don’t sleep for a week, but as soon as the next horror movie is out, they go see it. It doesn’t do them any good, but they can’t think about it. There’s a patterned drive toward it.

Chemical addictions are like that. A drug addiction clearly doesn’t let us function better, but we can’t seem to resist it. Some drugs are very addictive, very quickly. With heroin, only one or two experiences with it can install the pattern.

Addictions can draw us in and give us the illusion that life is better while we’re engaging in them. That illusion becomes part of the pattern. Patterns can be extremely believable in the confusion of the hurt. We can believe them for a long time, while everyone around us watches and knows it’s wrong. Other people see us being irrational, and see our life crumbling.

In U.S. society, in which people are kept working to keep the society going, drugs are encouraged up to a point. If a substance keeps people lost enough that they don’t oppose society, but still functional enough to do their jobs, fine. Beer and other forms of alcohol are tolerated because most people don’t get so badly hooked that they can’t work. Some people do get that hooked on drugs, and then they are locked up, or they die of an overdose. Drugs that are more quickly disabling are made illegal, but not eliminated. They are kept just scarce enough that someone can make big profits off them, and so that large numbers of people don’t get hooked.

Our oppressive societies put great pressure on young people to experiment, in the name of “freedom.” What are you free to do? Well, in our society you’re free to take drugs and have sex. You’re not free to have the job or the life you want. You’re not supported to face important issues openly, debate them publicly, and move to change things. (Too loud a challenge to the irrationalities of society always attracts the society’s hostility.) But you can have sex with anyone who will agree to have it with you, and you can take any drug you can afford—if you’re sneaky enough to acquire it.

Addictive drugs don’t help people have better lives, but you can understand how people in an oppressive society get driven and misled into believing that they do. You can understand why some people who do hard heavy labor, long hours every day, would show up at the tavern afterward for a few beers to try to numb how bad it feels. It’s no good for them, but you can understand how it happens and how they can get addicted to it. It’s understandable that people want to escape how bad their distresses make them feel, especially when there’s no chance to discharge them. We hunt for ways to not feel how we got hurt, and that’s what the drugs promise, in some form. A lot of young people are hunting for lives that are different from what society offers them. You can understand their response when drugs are dangled in front of them as a way out. Many who rebel against society get pulled into this.

In using drugs, we don’t just get the illusion of feeling good. Drugs also put in distress recordings that can be confusing and scary, even though the recording says it was a good experience. We’ve spent our whole lives trying to understand the world, trying to form our picture of the universe, and then, suddenly, OOPS, everything is a little different, or really different. Drugs confuse us about reality and about what we want. Using them doesn’t lead anywhere for anybody.

It’s a tough fight once we’re addicted. That’s another harsh part of experimenting. We can get hooked, and then it’s hard to get free of it. These addictions have a chemical edge that makes it hard to counsel away the longing for them. Some people here probably still long for substances they’ve given up. The longing doesn’t go away easily. They keep from taking the drugs partly by decision.

Drugs and alcohol don’t really do anything but put distress recordings in our minds. Within RC, we’re sure of this. So, for example, if you’re going to be an RC teacher, you’re required to be ready to stand against alcohol and other drugs. If you can’t, then you can’t give a clear enough perspective to other people.

Lots of things in life put in distresses that we need to discharge. Although addictions will discharge, we need to think carefully about adding to the load we already carry.

Most of the adults in this room have tried various substances. You know these people, you know how good and smart they are. They were pushed to do this, hunting for a way out of the oppressions of society. It didn’t work, and they fought through it (though they haven’t discharged all the distresses from it yet). At some point, they realized their lives were getting a little weird, and they wanted more of a life than these substances would give them a chance at. I’m sure that some RCers still use alcohol or other drugs—they have this struggle and are still fighting to get through it.

There is immense pressure, in some circles, to use drugs and alcohol. The message is that the only way for people to push aside distresses for the moment is to drink or drug themselves numb—so numb that they don’t feel bad from what they’ve been going through. You face this pressure, and you get to make your own decisions. You get to fight your own distresses, tell your own stories, talk about all the pressures on you.

We want you to know what we’ve figured out about this in RC. We want you to understand the push to do drugs—and that although taking them isn’t the worst thing you could do, it isn’t going to help you out of anything. We know we can actually remove distresses and patterns through Co-Counseling, so that we don’t need to settle for the illusionary escape of alcohol or drugs.

Last modified: 2014-08-22 20:04:32+00