I've been addicted to a series of drugs, often more than one at a time, for about 30 years. Been using for closer to 40. I don't think I will even stop. I'm pretty functional in many ways, but at the same time mostly pretty miserable and fucked up. I think I understand my use, my addictions, yet this doesn't seem to be enough for freedom. But I don't even like that word here: I've never felt free.
Recently I spent 5 frightening days in hospital with intercranial pressure almost double what is normal and safe and at times blood pressure on the order of 225/190. For a while I thought I would never get out. Not alive. I was as terrified of my mother finding all the drugs in my bedroom as I was of ceasing to exist. More terrified, truth be told. I live a double life, perhaps a triple one. Respected and valued member of my community, stable and hard to lose job. Material advantages. Decent looks, a very good mind, and a genuine concern for my fellow creatures, one I act on regularly and I think with good effect. But I can't seem to help myself: I've never felt whole.
A central dynamic seems to drive most drug (ab)use, dependence and addiction: Seeking happiness (or perhaps a flight from unhappiness). This is hardly a groundbreaking idea, but it has been on my mind a lot lately and I have come to the conclusion that clarity about the nature of happiness and unhappiness is crucial in avoiding and overcoming the problems drugs so often bring.
Abd Al-Rahman III, the 10th-century caliph of Córdoba had a life of astonishing luxury, power and fame, reigning for more than 50 years. His riches, pleasure, power, and access to practically anything available to humans in the 10th-century were astonishing in scope. And yet he said looking back on his life, “I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.”
The man who pretty much literally had everything was happy less than one tenth of one percent of the time. Something is awry with the idea that luxury, power, and pleasure add up to happiness.
Wealth, money, is crucial to happiness, but only insofar as it eliminates sources of unhappiness. Valuing wealth above more intrinsic goods appears to lead to unhappiness, dissatisfaction and even poor health.
Our biology drives us to seek high calorie foods, wealth, sexual pleasure and variety, fame, social recognition and reputation. Humans who have none of these do not effectively pass on their genes compared to those who do. But evolution gives zero fucks for our happiness. Being well positioned to reproduce successfully does not equal having a high level of well-being as an individual.
[IMGL="white"]https://drugs-forum.com/forum/blog_attachment.php?attachmentid=162&stc=1&d=1466688042[/IMGL]When our lives lack meaning, when we are deprived of basic human needs, food, shelter, health, love, family, friendship, community, meaningful work and projects, we naturally seek to make up for this lack. But often this leads us into disaster. In the moments we head towards the obvious things we crave, fame, wealth, pleasure, we become hedonistic materialists. This mistake can have heartbreaking consequences. Redoubled emptiness, alienation, craving, anxiety, shame and anger. This is the truth, one of the noble truths of buddhism, that the cause of our suffering is attachment. Lasting satisfaction can't come from a cycle of grasping at these things which we crave and enjoying the only momentary satisfaction and relief they might provide. It is upadana, the cycle of craving and grasping, described thus in the Dhammapada:
The craving of one given to heedless living grows like a creeper. Like the monkey seeking fruits in the forest, he leaps from life to life... Whoever is overcome by this wretched and sticky craving, his sorrows grow like grass after the rains.
This kind of life is a life of loving things and using people. It is upsidedown.
Love people, use things.
All this makes sense to me. I try hard to live it. But it isnt enough: I've never felt comfortable in my skin, entitled to happiness, hopeful or more than holding on by the tips of my fingers. And that hasn't changed in the face of a real health scare. So I still don't think I'll ever stop taking drugs.