Rise and Fall

Articles in the Denver Post and Boulder Weekly over the last two weeks have covered an increased use in alcohol, heroin use and driving while under the influence of marijuana. A number of other articles have lamented the untimely death of 27 year old Amy Winehouse. In each case, we have heard this story before. There may therefore be a tendency to ignore or glaze over the information. However, it remains an important reminder of a trend that is not going away. Rather, numbers show that deaths in Boulder County from heroin have increased along with figures for the state of Colorado that show an increase in drug, alcohol and mental health disorders according to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Reading these articles with dry statistics or mourning the death of a singer from London may appear to be far from one’s awareness. However, if you know someone who suffers from addiction or if you are struggling yourself, then the issue takes on a more urgent meaning.

Although it is commonly believed that an addict needs to bottom out before seeking help, there is another point of view that would encourage anyone dealing with this problem to seek help before one gets to that point. It may not be easy for anyone to change behavior that has become a habit. However, those who have recovered “one day at a time,” will recount the journey of their renewal which includes the work that it took to turn things around.

Caroline Knapp, defined appetites in her book of the same name on page 13 as “the things we take in, the activities we engage in when we feel empty or restless or wanting, and the substances and behaviors that we imagine will make us feel full, satisfied, complete.” She knows a lot about appetites having recovered from both anorexia and alcoholism, which she wrote about in a couple of memoirs including the best selling Drinking: A Love Story.

Whether one recovers the way Caroline Knapp did in a residential followed by a 12-step program, or if one finds another avenue of recovery, assistance is available in the form of support groups, therapists, treatment centers, exercise, nutritional programs or spiritual pursuits. The problem of substance abuse is holistic and therefore its solution needs to address the complete person, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

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