The Anatomy of Addiction

Overcoming the triggers that stand in the way of recovery.

The Symptom and the Solution

The use of drugs is both the symptom and the solution.

There was an article in the Los Angeles Times a few months ago about addiction. This is not uncommon, but this particular article never mentioned the word addiction. Instead it talked about the new drug, Molly, as a lifestyle choice for those that live in the fast lane. It was described as a byproduct of the Generation of Me coming of age.

It reports that Emergency Room visits are up 120% in the period from 2004-2011 due to the use of Molly, aka Mandy, aka Ecstasy or X, aka MDMA. So essentially, new generation, new name. We can refer back to a number of respected organizations, including the National Institute for Drug Abuse Drug Facts (December 2012), for the facts relating to this group of drugs, as well as drugpolicy.org, drugabuse.gov, and drug free.org. These organizations serve to collect data on drug use and abuse trends and indeed highlight the rise of Molly and the history of this classification of drug.

The desire to stay high, be on, keep your edge, forget about your problems, fears, and anxieties remains much the same from generation to generation. For Molly, it appears that its combination of stimulant and hallucinogenic is the primary lure. And, as is true with many drugs, Molly is laced or cut with a variety of things, such as caffeine, methamphetamine, cocaine, and salts of various kinds. Since it is primarily a street drug, the reality of the effects and its potential harm is difficult to measure. But we know that the drug produces alarming effects on the body’s neurochemistry. Users matter-of-factly describe the high, taking more or other drugs to avoid the crash, and the lack of sleep it causes.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

The touted premise is that if you wish to stay competitive in today's fast-paced world, you need a little help, and that help is Molly. It appears in the lyrics of songs by numerous contemporary artists, as well as those who strive to remain contemporary. The sex, drugs, and rock-‘n’-roll attitude has always been a part of each generation with different drugs au currant. Whether it was heroin, cocaine, or Molly the mentality remains the same.

What have changed are the levels of anxiety that we live with every day. Our fear-based world, fueled by the recent economic meltdown and two major wars, contributes dramatically to the societal stress we all feel. Part of what fuels the societal anxiety is reality-based and therefore hard to combat. Each generation has had to incorporate certain generational anxiety – some based on disease, war, or economics, to name a few contributors.

Today's generation of young people are faced with the world of technology with its double-edged sword. We have unlimited information available that leads to anxiety about what we have as yet to uncover. And the marketplace today is indeed faster-paced; we live in the world of Internet where there is always more to know, to understand, to keep track of, and pace with. The side effect of the Internet is the anxiety that if we unplug for even a brief period of time, we lose our edge or our ability to be competitive. It is in part this belief that has some people looking for a way to keep their edge through drugs.

The total lack of awareness of the physical effects of the use of Molly is apparent: there exists the need to stay high but to still “be chill”. The appeal of Molly is that the stimulant aspect keeps them from “acting like a stoner” and stay in the game. At the same time the hallucinogenic component allows them to feel the euphoria.

There is no doubt that we live in a pharmaceutical-based society. For example, next time you sit down to watch TV, take note of the number of ads that you see for medication to treat any ailment of any kind. And while you watch a TV show, either comedy or drama, take note of the number of times the characters are drinking alcohol as part of the stated dialogue or as just something that is being done while the dialogue occurs. In this exercise it is evident that we live in a world that soothes, celebrates, and self-medicates with drugs and alcohol. What has become alarming is that it appears that we have come to accept this as the way of the world.

And while indeed we have made great strides in treating many illnesses and diseases through the advancement in medical research, there exists a disconnect between medically based illness and what ails you emotionally. One of the most common contributors to physical illness is stress and anxiety; self-medicating to ease this stress and anxiety jeopardizes their physical wellbeing to the point of being deadly.

The use of Molly is both the symptom and the solution. A frightening solution, to be sure, because it destroys through overdose, psychosis, and addiction. The question remains: is the use of Molly (or X or MDMA) inevitable in each generation? And how can we help people realize that they are headed down a path of self-destruction?

Education and awareness, education and awareness, education and awareness – these are the keys. People have an infinite ability to grow and change – I have seen many addicts and their families go on to lead happy, healthy lives over the past 30 years that I have worked with those struggling in addiction. There is hope.


See Recovery View

Karen Khaleghi, Ph.D., is a co-founder of Creative Care, Malibu, a rehabilitation and recovery center.

more...

Subscribe to The Anatomy of Addiction

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?