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The Wild Wagon Ride

Substance abuse is no joke. Too many of us fall prey to it.

Some of us perish early — Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, plus millions more, celebrities and non-celebs alike. Others endure, like Ozzy Osbourne, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few of the famous again. And some of us slip and fall, for good — at any time — just like that — be we under the influence or on the long road to recovery.

Sometimes the recovery period is more dangerous than the wagon ride. Withdrawal can be extremely painful and depressing, leading to all kinds of hell.

Don’t let the head nods and smiles fool you. The facade — the semblance of self-control, the projection of confidence, the impression of success and contentment — none of it is the whole story. Under the surface there may be a storm raging, not the kind that raises a person higher, but the type that eats one from the inside, laying everything to waste.

It begins gradually, imperceptibly, and almost always innocently enough. One hit at a time. One thing leads to another, and one day — boom, you’re in so deep, you can’t see your way out. You can’t endure the way back. It’s too hard to turn around, the vice too fun — and too strong — to let go (of). One more hit is all you need, one more fix to patch up what’s broken, hollow, or shaking, all in the name of a few highs more, in pursuit of a little peace. All you need is a moment of relaxation, something to erase the constant anxiety and soothe whatever pain is eating away at your mind, soul, or general constitution.

This is how it goes for so many people.

If someone you know is abusing, chances are he or she or they are suffering, and self-medicating.

Sometimes it’s okay; people can be functional users. It takes discipline and effort, plus a lot of good fortune, but it’s a thing. Some even thrive while ab/using because they’re built like that, or able to adapt.

But in general, as a rule, the path of self-medication is slippery and likely to cause injury, oftentimes permanent, if not fatal.

The ‘good’ news is that it’s easier to stop now rather than later. Excruciating as the NOW may be, it’s the better choice, worth the pain and the crunch. Push through as soon as possible, carve a way out sooner rather than later, before it’s too late i.e. before you or someone you love, or some stranger you come across, ends up in the hospital or the morgue.

Of course, some people can’t escape no matter what. For whatever reason, they’re in too deep and can’t jump off the wagon, or simply refuse to live without the thrill of the ride. They won’t let go, even when in recovery (they stop using, but their mind and spirit remain hooked) and can rest only after they’re gone.

In such cases, one can only wish that they don’t take anyone else with them, and that when they hurt their loved ones and other people — because it’s inevitable… the wild wagon ride is designed for collateral damage — they hurt them as little as possible.

Something to consider.

From your socratic Spin Doctor,

Eyes open, mind sharp.

PS – The use of Matthew Perry’s photo may seem insensitive, since this piece is not only cautionary but caustic, yet his image fits the bill. The aim is to get the message across, and nothing gets the message across like a much-loved face that has gone too soon, and who posed for the camera in a sad state, for all to see, time and again, reminding us that the tragedy was more than obvious.

In Perry’s case, no one could help. We could see the drama take shape, anticipating the fallout.

It doesn’t have to be the same with others. If Perry’s tragic demise serves to encapsulate the problem and make others think, leading to at least one alcoholic or addict getting out while there’s time, it’s worth the shade and all the sour aftertaste that accompanies it. The point is to look the issue square in the eye and understand its corrosive nature, so that whatever action one takes has the chance to work.

Sometimes all you get is one chance.