Continuing with our AddictNoMore theme that we need to move beyond terms and concepts such as “addiction” and move closer into the heart of the matter. We need to be always governed by unconditionality and non-judgment, and we can then become more aware that the suffering around substance use is more to do with relational and experiential disconnections of hearts, souls, and minds. With this awareness, we find the central and pivotal point to changing our conditions of suffering is connection. This is to connect with our more genuine and authentic self (not our false self), connect with each other, and connect with the bigger universe. It is important that these connections occur within a context of experiential unconditionality of being (i.e., a natural state of love), mindful awareness and within a context of our own agentic-re-creation of meanings and stories of meaning (a sort of co-creation). To do all this we propose the venue of small support meetings within our respective communities. These meetings can be shaped around people’s problems with using drugs and or expanded to any sort of experience of suffering (i.e., family conflict, socio-economics, other sorts of psychological distresses and “diagnoses”).
Central to the aim of these meetings is to hold space for the paradoxes (dialectic truths) around healing. (Borrowing these paradoxes from the book “The complexity of Connections” by Judith V. Jordon and colleagues) these paradoxes are:
Vulnerability leads to growth
Pain can be experienced in safety
Talking about disconnection leads to connection
Conflict between people can be tolerated in their connection.
Group identity requires both conflict and cohesion
In order to stay connected many people feel the need to keep part of themselves out of connection (this is a big stumbling block in our relationships and how we feel)
And also paradoxes as discussed by others such as Carl Rogers:
7. It is only after I accept myself, that I am then able to change.
What the Meeting Can Look Like.
INTRO: Group co-ordinator introduces and explains the following concepts to set guidelines for group interactions;
a) What is safe
b) What is listen
c) What is empathy, non-judgement and authenticity
PART 1. A PLACE TO EXPERIENCE PAIN IN SAFETY
Co-ordinator asks someone to begin with sharing/speaking of an experience of vulnerability, grief, and or suffering in their present moment (or recent past).
PART 2. COLLECTIVE EMOTIONAL REFLECTION
Co-ordinator begins with saying, “I hear your ____________ and I accept it, we all accept it and are with you, beside you, in it in this moment”. Co-ordinator invites other group members to reflect how the person’s story has touched them and maybe how hearing this story has shed perspective on their own life and journeys (if genuinely so).
PART 3. INVITE THE ORIGINAL TELLER TO CONTINUE
Now the person who first shared has the opportunity to expand on how they are feeling in the moment. What was most significant in what you heard in others reflections about your story?
PART 4. OPEN QUESTIONS FOR AN OPEN FUTURE
Questions open to everyone in the group to answer;
a) How has our now changed during this meeting?
b) How has our new now, how can our new now change tomorrow? the rest of our day?
PART 5. CONCLUDING WITH SILENCE
This is a final moment of silence for people to quietly in themselves to allow for a moment of gratitude that only we together could have arrived at.
AddictNoMore is grateful for what was another great year of seized opportunities of growth with our sisters and brothers in the regions of Niagara Ontario. Engaged on the front lines of ‘addiction’ and ‘poverty’ (aka disempowerment). We would like to pass on some observations.
WHAT THE PROBLEM SEEMS TO BE
Addiction is not a simple issue of ‘drugs’. Just as the criminal-justice approach has shown to only exacerbate the problem, a disease model concept in fact may only be further perpetuating and making a problem worse. It seems the same mechanisms of the construction of deviance are at play with both styles of addressing addiction. Whereas the justice systems punishes drug use with the label of ‘crime’ so the disease model punishes drug taking behaviour with the label/stigma of ‘disease/illness’. Both approaches are simply repressive enforcement of societal norms that actually have no ontological reality to begin with. AddictNoMore challenges the current trend of twitter and facebook parades of mental health style posts in regards to drug use – we maintain that the continued enforcement of the regime of repressive normalcy (to do with human behaviour) and undue socialization of economic, material, and political ideologies only makes problems worse. As Carl Jung wrote ‘dirt is matter in the wrong place, and the more civilized we become the dirtier we get.” It is shameful when social services and good-will organizations both wittingly and unwittingly put forward and advance an oppressive narrative in the name of helping people.
Despite all of our best efforts the war against the suffering and disempowerment around substance use is being lost; it seems the losses are unimaginable. With hard drug use beginning as early as adolescence, young people with no family nor any support network at all are being forced to negotiate substance dependence in an economically, socially, and spiritually ravaged Niagara Region.
THE ROOT OF IT ALL – DISEMPOWERMENT
AddictNoMore maintains the root of all problematic substance use is ‘disempowerment’. This is when a person finds themselves in a sort of need-state (either material, psychological, or spiritual depravation) but has no real viable means of growth/overcoming. This “absence of means” is today often systematic (with the break-down of the family as our reproductive technology, also economic and social justice issues, but also the failure of organized faiths and their people to deliver and teach transcendental values). As well, the “absence of means” can often be personal (in instances of trauma and abuse). Disempowerment can then be perpetuated by the disempowered themselves, by people having internalized social beliefs that are really oppressive narratives meant to substantiate and legitimize a status quo world that is unjust (a person then can become their own worst enemy). In all such examples however, the one constant is substances. In any case regardless of the differences, ‘drugs’ remain the easy and only available partner to our woes (either street drugs or pharma – and we challenge the thoughts about which are safer). Within our system of profit pursuits, eager capitalists (corporations, cartels) have made available at all levels of society (and at all levels of price) different substances that people can turn to instead of other people, or their own internal psychological resilient strengths and, or spiritual essence and guide.
A RATHER SIMPLE SOLUTION
AddictNoMore suggests the following means to immediately begin to take our people back!
1.Empowerment; via love (unconditional regard, non-judgement and forgiveness). Teaching that defaults are not a result of our individual biology, but a manifestation of blocked paths to growth.
2. Social Power; re-establishing communities that empower their members through horizontal (non- professional, community based) guidance. Enabling communities through economic resources that include real access to education that is growth orientated. Assisting communities by putting expert knowledge in the hands of community members synonymous to ideas of community and liberation psychology.
3. Transcendental guidance; going beyond tolerance of different beliefs but encouraging people to reconnect with each their own life source and find in it their own heritage, tradition, culture, and truths which can lead the person to an internal state of otherness yet connection – a truly powerful way of being not unlike Maslow’s ideas of peak/plateau experiences and, or mystical experiences chronicled in the writings of Joseph Campbell.
A FINAL NOTE AND BEST WISHES
As we close 2017 we leave you with some pictures of good cooking and loving from our local youth shelter. We hope you all a greater and greater understanding for 2018; the idea that the greatest truths are only those that get better by growing.