12 July 2008 - 21:01

TEHRAN, July 12 (MNA) -- Kicking the drug habit is one of the most difficult things to do in life.

Any recovering drug addict will tell you that this is true.


Fortunately, most people will never have to go through this experience personally. 


There are basically four ways to kick drugs: (1) you can call on God for help and seek out the assistance of a support network of friends or professionals; (2) you can call on God for help without seeking out the assistance of a support network; (3) you can do it with a support network but without calling on God for help; or (4) you can try to do it all on your own without calling on God for help and without a support network.


The first method is the easiest and most efficient way to kick the habit. Thus, this is the path addicts are encouraged to take, if they can. When you call on God for help and seek out the assistance of a support network of friends or professionals, you feel at peace, you feel hopeful, you don’t feel alone, and you feel that there is always someone backing you up.   


The second method is more difficult, but this is the road people must take if they have no friends who can help and can’t get into a professional detoxification program and thus have no human support network whatsoever. These people can still rely on God though, which can be a great help.


The third method is even more difficult than the second, but this is the course a recovering addict who does not believe in God must take. However, the atheist recovering addict still has the help of a support network in this method. 


The fourth method is the most difficult path of all, but there is no other path for the atheist recovering addict who has no friends and who can’t get into a professional detoxification program. Some people are able to achieve success with this method. However, if at all possible, recovering addicts are encouraged to select one of the other three methods since kicking the drug habit is such a monumental task.    


Society has a serious role to play in ridding the world of the scourge of drug addiction.


Hence, efforts should be made to set up detox clinics, establish programs run by physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists, acquire government and private sector funding, and seek out new methods of treatment to address the drug abuse problem.   


Although drug trafficking must be curbed as much as possible in the campaign against drug addiction, this is a supply-side approach, which most experts now believe can never solve the problem.


They say a demand-side approach should be taken in which programs are set up to prevent people from becoming addicts in the first place and to ensure that those who do become addicts are provided access to all the facilities and resources necessary to help them kick the habit.   


Furthermore, in order to realize even a modicum of success in the campaign against drug abuse, recovering drug addicts must be reintegrated into society with no stigmatization.   


The stigmatization of recovering drug addicts is one of the major obstacles faced by people working in the campaign against drug abuse. Recovering drug addicts must have an incentive to quit. If they feel they will be stigmatized forever, there is no strong incentive for them to even try to kick the habit. Thus, societal attitudes must be changed to win the real war on drugs. 


Another problem faced by drug addicts is the fact that most of these individuals have addictive personalities. A person with an addictive personality has an even harder time quitting than people who don’t have this condition. Perhaps they could be encouraged to become infatuated with stamp collecting, modern art, or other interests which are less harmful than drugs. Thus, their addictive personalities could be channeled in a more positive direction.  


Narcotics Anonymous is a group that has many branches around the world that have helped thousands and thousands of people kick the drug habit and begin to lead clean lives.


NA uses group meetings and the 12–step program, in which the recovering addicts are encouraged to believe in a “higher power” -- which is a non-denominational expression that NA uses so that they can be more inclusive.


Narcotics Anonymous has been criticized for the fact that only 25 percent of all the people who have attended meetings are able to stay clean for a long time, but this criticism is unfair since some people only join for one meeting and then disappear. And a 25 percent success rate is a lot better than a 0 percent success rate. You can see the glass as one-quarter full and not three-quarters empty.


Narcotics Anonymous even has branches in Iran now, and they are doing excellent work by most accounts. In fact, some of Iran’s recovering drug addicts have a quasi-religious reverence for NA, as if they view it as something akin to a Sufi order.   


So some positive things are happening amidst all this gloom.


But there is an even darker side to the drug world. The drug trade is a multi-billion dollar business worldwide, and some shadowy elements are trying to get people hooked on illicit drugs in order to control the masses and reap huge profits.


So where do we go from here?


Well, clearly, a comprehensive international strategy must be formulated to address the world’s drug problem and all of society must play a role in implementing this strategy.    


(July 13 Tehran Times Opinion Column, by Hamid Golpira)





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