The email began, “....within two diametrically opposed groups - those who have more money than they know what to do with and, the opposite, those who do not. I can understand the need in the latter where choices are limited. What prompts an individual who has fortune to deliberately take steps to destroy what they have? In the case of the latter, how do you yank these young people from the brink of a destructive path?”
Many people have these thoughts about substance addiction. That is, the thinking that someone can be “yanked from a path of destruction” or that, someone would “deliberately take steps to destroy what they have.” Substance addiction is an equal opportunity life destroyer which affects people across economic, racial, religious and cultural levels. People use substances, both legal and illegal, for many different reasons. Some of which are regulating difficult emotions, chemical imbalances, depression, hopelessness, family discourse, poor parenting, environmental risks, etc. Having money or not does not insulate a person from having problems. After all, we as “haves” or “have nots” live in the same world and are affected by the same ills that befall each of us.
As a therapist, I have had substance depended and mentally ill clients with varying degrees of financial wealth from surgeons and attorneys to school teachers and business owners to low income and no income. I have worked with adults and children who have come from good, functionally stable families as well as those from unstable families with major social problems. No one is immune from life risks or the need to escape or find a way to deal with problems.
Few of us have as much money as some of the celebrities, CEOs/owners of Fortune 500 companies, or major sports figures, yet they too have problems. They experience unresolved issues of depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacies, childhood traumas, health problems and death of loved ones. I have never worked with anyone, rich or poor, who chose to use substances with the intent to throw away their life.
An issue of control is always a factor in addiction and recovery. The goal, in the process of becoming addicted, is never to loss control. Yet, that is exactly what happens while firmly believing that you are in complete control. This line of thinking is a part of the addiction process. It is this denial that keeps many people in their addictions. No one is in control of the addiction but the substance itself. When substance users become addicted they systemically loss control of their lives, families, jobs, health, and anything else of value. It becomes a ripple effect. Long before the depended person comes to realize that he/she is addicted - much has been lost.
Whether a person has money or not, the goal of substance abuse treatment is the same. One of the only differences might be that the person with money may have more options and resources for treatment and recovery. CEASE is committed to identifying young teens at risk for substance abuse. Our mission is prevention. We identify those teens, provide prevention education, strengthen the family unit and engage or connect them positively with the community. Family is as much a risk factor as it is a protective factor. The goal is to shift the balance from risk to protective factors. This shift provides the resiliency and support needed in prevention and recovery. This is done regardless of a person’s means or status.