We have a monthly town meeting here to talk about keeping our kids safe. I always leave reeling from the comments from the hospital about how frequently they are needing Narcan to antidote drug overdoses and from mentions of kids from the town who have died. This problem of people losing their lives to drugs and suicide is growing. People don’t grow up wanting to use drugs. It is some toxic mix of availability and need.
There was a recent take back program run by the Drug Enforcement Agency. It’s a national effort to get opioids, amphetamines and other prescription medications out of our homes. We do need to address the availability, but without addressing the need, we are bailing out the boat without plugging the hole in the bottom.
What is the need driving this epidemic? In January of 2015, I read this article that ran in the Huffington Post about addiction. The post is here, but briefly, the mice who were used to study how addictive coccaine is were alone in their cages. They were not willing to use coccaine if they weren’t alone. It was not the coccaine driving the addiction. It was the isolation. The fear.
They say that sex sells, but that is so 1980s. Nothing sells like fear. What If?? What if we have cancer and don’t know? What if my child fails? What if I can’t pay off this debt? What if my thyroid isn’t working? What if there is another shooting?
The opposite of fear is not bravery. It’s certainly not aggression. I don’t even believe it’s anything as grand and complicated as love. It is simply confidence. Why can’t we feel secure, even in our own bodies? Why do we need to use drugs to anesthetize ourselves and amplify our every advantage? What is telling us over and over that we are not enough?
Social media gurus instruct that negative titles are read more, so our feeds are littered with them. Remember Facebook’s controversial social experiment showing how quickly we develop negative thinking when negativity is all we are seeing? We almost never truly log off anymore, which leaves us bathed in reminders of our failings and threats all day.
We can’t go to the doctor for reassurance. Their reimbursement is based on diagnosing us- And giving us a medication to match. In 7 minutes, with patients armed with signs and symptoms found on the internet, diagnoses are begging to be given, and time for reassurance is in short supply. I’m not sure Naturopathic Doctors are any better. The underlying cause of fatigue may be thyroid dysfunction or adrenal fatigue, but the underlying cause of those is fear, exhaustion, isolation and this constant gnawing inadequacy.
Parents? This should be true, but the work-life struggle is real, folks. Parental leave, wage gaps, the sandwich generation, two working parents all create stress felt throughout the family. Lean In, but don’t forget perfect amounts of Me Time. Or so we are constantly told. We need to change the workplace so that families can be together more without breaking backs or bank accounts.
We are deeply conditioned to look for what is wrong, rather than to build on what works. But what if? What if you make changes and see your health improve? What if you just need to be patient with yourself? What if your child’s struggle makes them stronger? What if you really, thoroughly, honestly tackle your budget? What if you trust your community?
Fear sells, so we need to stop buying. Health, the rejection of the idea that we are broken, not enough, failing and overwhelmed, has to come from us. If fear is the root of disease, confidence is our cure. Connection is our medicine.