Is addiction a choice

Is addiction a choice

Read this and see if your mind changes
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I see many people post statuses or talk about how addictions are a choice, or that people with addictions are stupid. Ive noticed that most of those people themselves have never experienced it first hand. From having experienced addiction myself, I'm going to share with you my insight and knowledge on this topic to shed some light on this very touchy subject.

Sitting on my old 70s looking, mustard colored couch, my sister said to me something along the lines of "Just don't do it." She meant no harm, and probably doesn't even remember she said something like that, but it played like an old record in my head, over and over again. I would constantly ask myself why couldn't I just stop. It wasn't until years later, that I was able to answer that question for myself.

When someone has a hot temper, they usually respond to criticism or something that bothers them in a way they fundamentally know isn't serving them. They know that responding in a calmly manner would be ideal, but did something else. Even if they see that their behavior is ruining relationships, and making them unhappy, they continue to repeat those patterns. That is because their reactions and actions are impulses based on hard wiring in the brain that was unconsciously created over time through past thoughts and experiences. Addictions and mental illnesses are no different. It is hardwiring in the brain created unconsciously, not by choice, that cause people to take certain actions. To behave in a different way, one must change the hardwiring in their brain, and in order for one to do that, they must have the desire and persistence to change.

The decision to change does not come from a choice at first, but from a burning desire. That desire has to be stronger than their desire to act in a way that isn't serving them, which is extremely difficult when the hard wiring in your brain is unconsciously making you crave that behavior. Unfortunately for some, that burning desire only occurs once they have reached rock bottom. Other instances, inspiration is the catalyst for a desire which leads to the choice to change. Without the desire, there really is no choice. We can not force desire on another, just like how no one could force you to feel good when someone makes you upset. What we can do is shine our light and be the inspiration for change, and lead by example.

Is addiction a choice? Only you can be the judge of that. Every opinion, judgment, reaction, action, is of our own doing. Therefor our opinion on addiction is not based off of what is right or wrong, but what belief system we have built. I'm not here to tell others what to believe about addictions, but I'm here to share my voice and encourage you to challenge your own beliefs, show compassion towards yourself and others, and shine your light.

Cover Image Credit: Brooke Lyn Landon

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No, My Family Member Didn’t ‘Deserve To Die’ Because He Struggled With Addiction

That person you have equated to be nothing more than their addiction is so much more than that.
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I'm sick of hearing these words. I'm absolutely sick and tired of hearing these words come out of others' mouths. It's repulsive and dehumanizing to say that someone "deserves to die" because of a struggle with substance abuse or alcohol abuse.

You can make the argument that he "made a choice." Go ahead, do it. You're entitled to your opinion.

But don't you dare say that he deserved to die.

You're saying that about someone's loved one. You're saying that about a human being who struggled with a very real and very prevalent problem in today's society.

If the tables were flipped, how would you feel?

How would you feel if you had people say to you, "he made a choice, so he has to pay for the consequences."

We talk about them like criminals. As if death is a "deserved side effect" of drug and alcohol usage.

When a teenager dies from an overdose, we're saying, "wow, that's tragic, he was so young." But when an adult dies, we say, "oh, he should have known better."

If that adult has been using since childhood, no, he or she really may not "know better."

I get it, OK. I get that not everyone believes drug addiction and alcohol addiction are diseases. As I said earlier, you're completely entitled to your opinion.

But to say someone deserved death, that's repulsive.

When people say that people with drug and alcohol addictions deserve to die, it's personal for me.

It's personal because I lost someone from those very causes.

It's personal because every day I choose not to drink even though I'm 21.

It's personal because every day I see people using drugs in and around my campus while I walk by avoiding the shouts to "buy some."

That person you have decided is nothing more than their addiction is so much more than that.

We all have our problems. Even Kim Kardashian, who the media believes to be perfect, has her problems.

But, until we recognize that someone who struggles with drug and alcohol usage is still a human being, our rhetoric isn't going to change.

I'm sorry to break it to you, but if you've ever made a nasty comment about someone struggling with addiction by calling them a "junkie" or some other foul word, you're part of the problem.

If you refer to someone who has gone through rehab as "clean" you're also part of the problem because that implies that those who aren't "clean," aka those who are using, are "dirty."

Again, that makes you part of the problem.

I'm not saying we are going to up and change overnight. I know that isn't realistic.

We do, however, need to be conscientious of how and why we use the rhetoric that we do when it comes to those in recovery and those struggling with addiction.

Sit back for a second and put yourself in their shoes.

How would you feel if you had people telling you that you deserved to die?

Just let that one sink in, and then come back and tell me how you feel about that rhetoric you've been using.

Cover Image Credit: 123rf

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Driving While Stoned: Can Police Prove You're High?

What police are using to test your THC level... and what happens next.
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Recreational and medical marijuana are becoming increasingly common throughout the country, as more states pass statutes allowing it in certain instances. This includes Colorado, California and Nevada. As a result, the laws regarding DUI and operating under the influence of intoxicating substances are also evolving.

Driving high is not a new concept, but it’s becoming the source of more media attention as using marijuana becomes more widespread. Here’s what it means if you’re pulled over for marijuana use and if police officers have the right material.

Traffic Stops and Marijuana DUIs

Driving high is dangerous, just as operating a car under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. Marijuana use delays your reaction time, interferes with your ability to pay attention while on the road, and put you and others on the road at risk of getting into a car accident. Police officers realize this and are subsequently cracking down on marijuana use before driving.

Most DUI arrests result when a driver gets pulled over for a traffic violation. Regarding traffic stops, it’s important to note that a police officer must only have a reasonable suspicion of intoxication. In other words, he or she doesn’t need to see you strictly break any traffic laws.

A police officer may pull you over if you’re weaving around in your lane or even driving very slowly. This alone can serve as evidence of impairment and provide the police with enough suspicion to complete a traffic stop.

A police officer is trained to know when someone is under the influence of marijuana. They may determine you’ve been using by the smell or the presence of mental confusion. Just like with alcohol, you may be required to complete field sobriety tests.

Marijuana is unique in that there is no reliable breath test. If an officer suspects you’re under the influence of the drug, you’ll have to submit to blood testing which will confirm the presence of THC in your system. A high concentration of THC will serve as evidence for a prosecutor to file a DUI charge for impairment.

In San Diego, police officers are now using a mouth-swab device to confirm the driver is under the influence of marijuana. The Drager Drug Test debuted last year and it takes less than 10 minutes for results to come out.

After an officer gives the test and results are positive, they will then take the driver down to a police phlebotomist for a blood test to check precise drug levels. Police say if you smoked marijuana two days before taking the test, there would be nothing to worry about since the machine only tests for active THC compound that is responsible for getting you high.

There are laws in 13 states that prohibit a driver from operating a motor vehicle with any amount THC in their system. An additional five states set a legal cutoff for THC concentration – for Colorado and Washington, its 5 nanograms per milliliters of blood – for Ohio and Nevada, it’s 2.

The rest of the states, including California, prohibit operating a motor vehicle incapacitated by or under the influence of marijuana, which is vaguer and leaves the charges up to the prosecutor.

What About Medical Marijuana?

Some people might assume that the rules exclude medical marijuana use, but this isn’t the case. Operating the under influence is dangerous whether you have a medical marijuana prescription – in fact, there have been some cases where people have been charged with DUI for using other prescription medicines such as Ambien.

Still, this is an evolving area of law. A recent appeals case in Arizona found that people charged with DUI with a medical marijuana prescription may have additional protections from prosecution. In this case, medical marijuana patients in Arizona may be able to contest charges of DUI by providing evidence that they weren’t “too incapacitated” to operate a motor vehicle.

Future DUI Convictions for Marijuana Use

The laws surrounding DUI and marijuana will continue to evolve as use of the substance becomes more widespread. If you live in an area that allows medical marijuana or recreational marijuana use, never use a motor vehicle after smoking.

If you do get behind the wheel of a vehicle after using, you could put yourself at risk of getting a DUI – as well as putting yourself and others on the road at risk. Think of smoking and driving like drinking and driving – find a designated driver or stay at home.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Tobias Zils on Unsplash

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