This comment is from Laura Chapman, a community organizer living in Putney.
“I don’t give them money, because they will only buy drugs with it. I don’t want to feed his addiction.”
Let’s unpack this statement that I just repeated to myself for what felt like the millionth time today. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t.
But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that they are actively dependent on illicit substances, struggle and abuse to fuel a substance abuse disorder. Do you think not giving them money will starve the disorder and that will force them to stop?
Based on my years of embedded observations and experience, this will not be the case. Substance abuse disorder doesn’t work like that. If it were that simple, the so-called “war on drugs” would have worked. Instead, we have one of the highest rates of substance abuse disorders in the world.
Addiction of any kind is tenacious, but substance abuse disorder is downright herculean in the power it holds over those who struggle. One way or another, he will get what he needs. And it depends on us focusing on outcomes, not root causes, to continue to thrive and grow in our communities.
So what happens when someone struggling with a substance abuse disorder can’t meet the demands of addiction and manipulation doesn’t work?
What I have witnessed is that depending on the substance one is addicted to, some become incredibly sick and desperate. It really is a disease.
Some (not all, not even most) become so ill and desperate that they make an incredible effort, but in the illness they are not stable, their decision-making abilities are compromised, their inhibitions are lowered, and the ability to take care of themselves, others. , anything but what it will take to make this pain stop, goes out the window.
This may look like selling whatever they have, including themselves, to whoever will pay, no matter how horrible. It can mean allowing dealers to move into your home and take it over, turning it into a trap house, a place where they are literally trapped, fed a small supply to comply and often He subjects them to violence when they are not. . Or it can mean taking whatever they can find to sell, and sometimes that looks like breaking and taking from you, from me, from our community.
And after all that, when the disease is momentarily satiated, they know what they did to get there and often hate themselves more for it, so they medicate more, deepening the cycle and making it harder to break out.
That’s why I give money without a doubt.
Manipulation is a desperate enough act for my compassion and I don’t want anyone to feel driven to further despair. I give this because I hope that if they are being used, it will hurt them less to use in a compatible way than they would otherwise to have fed that need.
Because they are suffering, they deserve connection and support. I care that they stay alive and I hope that one day they find a way to live without the torment of substance abuse disorder.
The data shows again and again that the most successful outcomes are almost always rooted in harm-reduction approaches and not in making judgments or withholding aid.
Please consider this before deciding that you will not support someone who is ill. Until we as a society can do better, as individuals we must act with more thought and compassion.
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Source: Laura Chapman: Substance abuse disorder doesn’t work like that