Drugging our kids and ourselves

For years, my mom was a psychiatric nurse and we’d have long discussions about addiction, its causes and possible solutions. She would often compare alcohol or drug addiction to diseases like diabetes.

The comparison rubbed me the wrong way.

Diabetes seemed like a “real” disease while the other, addiction, seemed more within our control. Calling it an illness or disease allowed those who make bad choices to have an out, an excuse, a way of saying, “It’s not my fault. I have a condition.”

I still don’t completely understand it.

And the list of conditions continue to grow. Diseases require medication because, well, they’re diseases rather than behavior traits, and so they require meds rather than self-control and a bit of discipline.

Is anyone else worried about this trend?

I taught teenagers who were medicated for various reasons. They apparently were a bit rambunctious as children. Some had trouble focusing or would get angry and out of control too easily. They’d been on mood-altering drugs for years.

Then they wanted to try drug-free living and were stuck, for the first time, trying to control themselves without pharmaceutical intervention.

It wasn’t pretty.

Those teenagers had never cultivated the necessary traits to go it alone. At sixteen or seventeen, they hated the acne, fogginess, or limp dick that came along with Ritalin, but didn’t know how to control themselves without it.

What about other chemical solutions?

Scientists and doctors are actively researching and using new vaccines (read: more drugs) that will cure addictions to anything: other drugs, cigarettes, too many brownies, alcohol, maybe even redheads.

But what happens when we grow dependent on the cures?

With prescribed withdrawals, liquid courage, or manufactured willpower, we take another step in the long journey away from personal responsibility. A journey that might never bring us back.

Like everything else, the roots to a national problem begin at home with our kids. Too many are under the illusion that the solution lies in chemistry rather than themselves.

Then, as adults, they continue giving up their own personal power to a drug or drink and, if that gets out of control, they pretend a new drug will somehow “cure” them.

Addicts trading one addiction for another is nothing new.

Smokers often give up cigarettes for Cinnabons.

Opium and cocaine were first sold as cures for alcoholism.

Food addicts find new love with exercise equipment or extreme sports.

And then there’s Jesus. He’s the drug of choice for many people who’ve made such catastrophic mistakes, blinded by artificial highs, that they need the blinding high of forgiveness and redemption just to make it through each day.

Blind either way.

Although, I’d rather someone put a “Beam Me Up, Lord” bumper sticker on their car and set out to convert the world rather than continue beating the wife and kids.

But I’m afraid that if we focus on medicine instead of ourselves, we’re missing a golden opportunity. Whipping a demon is badass. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and ending a vicious cycle Grandpa started is something to treasure.

There’s nothing in a pill to be proud of.

If we become a nation or a people drugged out of self-awareness – how do we grow? How do we evolve?

Tests of character and strength make us stronger. Granted, there are people who fail such tests and wind up dead as a result. Okay. Medication for them is preferable because the alternative is unacceptable.

But many people who could find the strength within will choose the easier route instead.

Come on. Don’t pretend we’re not the laziest goddamn generation ever. Our kids may even surpass us. Remote controls, drive-thrus, online investing, and Michael Bay movies are popular for a reason.

New and more expensive drugs are not a way out of our drug problem. Addiction vaccines don’t tackle the root of addiction; they simply mask the symptoms. It’s not always better to just make the bad go away. We need to help our kids develop the skills for how to prevent it all in the first place.