A Specialist’s letter to someone recently diagnosed with drug problems

I should be surprised if you were shocked at being told that you had a problem with drugs. You know that yourself. You are more likely to be angry than surprised.

The reason for this response is that other people might see you as the cause of your problems, whereas you might see other people and events as the cause. It is not for me to tell you which perception is right. I don’t know your circumstances. It will be up to you to discover for yourself whether your beliefs and ways of doing things make you happier and more fulfilled, or sadder and more wretched.

I myself spent many years trying to prove to the world that I was good enough to be a professional musician. I wasn’t. Some people spend many years trying to prove to the world that they are not addicted when they are.

People who genuinely do not have a problem with alcohol or drugs do not give the issue a thought. They have more rewarding things to think about and do with their time than in proving that they are not addicts - or pronouncing on whether particular substances or processes are addictive or not.

If the issue of addiction is important to you then addiction probably is important to you.

Discovering whether we really are addicts is important to all of us because addiction always gets worse – and the problems greater – in time.

Have a look back to a time before you used alcohol or drugs of any kind. Have your personal and family relationships improved since then? If you are now – or have been – in work, are you getting on better than before? Are you more productive? I am not asking you to say why, or why not, in answer to any of these questions. I am simply asking for straight answers to straight questions. It is very difficult to separate facts from perceptions or opinions but that is what I am asking you to do.

Have a look at all the dreadful things that have happened in your life, from childhood onwards. Now forget about them for a moment. I am not saying that they are irrelevant to your emotional state. But I am saying that they are not the sole cause of any addiction problem that you may or may not have.

Many people have had desperate problems of abuse and abandonment in their childhoods, and other major traumas later in life, but this does not subsequently lead to them developing addiction problems of any kind. By contrast, those of us who do have addiction problems – or lasting problems of other kinds – will tend to blame them on things that other people did to us.

My concern is to help you towards getting a better life in future: one that leads to you having happier personal relationships and more professional fulfilment, peace of mind in spite of unsolved problems and a sense of spontaneity, creativity and enthusiasm. If you do not have those things, you are missing out.

If you want to spend hours and hours proving to yourself that Cannabis or Alcohol are harmless and that only Cocaine and Heroin and some designer drugs are really dangerous, I’ll wait for you to find out for yourself – rather painfully.

If you want to avoid all that grief and pain, it might be wiser to check the following addictive characteristics now and see how many of them apply to you:

Do you tend to be preoccupied by using, or not using, drugs?

Do you quite frequently use drugs on your own?

Do you use them primarily to change your mood, rather than as a simple pleasure?

Do you use them as a medicine – as a tranquilliser, antidepressant or sleeping tablet?

Do you protect your supply, preferring to spend your money, time and energy in this way?

Do you find it difficult to stop, once you have started to use drugs in any day?

Do you have, or have you previously had, a higher capacity to use drugs than other people?

Do you continue to use drugs despite being damaged by them in some way?

Do you tend to use other mood-altering substances if your own special one is not available?

Do you search for drugs if you have run out?

Are you dependent upon drugs in order to function effectively?

Do you continue to use drugs despite the repeated serious concern of other people?

If you have answered any four of these questions positively, it means that you may well have an addictive nature and that your problems will get progressively worse in time.

Some people might well say, “So what?” That’s up to them. It doesn’t have to be okay for you. Change is possible if you want it – but not if you don’t.

If you are damaging your personal and professional – and social and financial – life, and want to change it for the better, you can. I did – and I can show you how to do it.

In physics it is the tendency of a force to twist or rotate another object Full medical glossary
Continuously increasing in extent or severity. Full medical glossary
A physical injury or emotionally painful event. Full medical glossary