Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Guns, Drugs and Mental Health: Crises Everywhere

What's an individual to do?

Guns, it is said, are machines. That's true. Cars are too. Chainsaws. Electric can openers. Washing machines. The list goes on.

Guns, it is said, are weapons. That's true. So are swords. Bombs. Words. Power. White Privilege.

Mental health, or its absence, can turn the tide at any time and make everything better or worse.

But what can we say about a system that can't separate mental health from access to everything that makes staying mentally healthy more improbable? We have an opioid crisis. But not a gun crisis? Do we have a mental health crisis? Why not? What happened to the alcoholism crisis? Solved? Global warming? A crisis or a myth? Poverty? Used to be a war on poverty, if I recall, but I guess no one is poor anymore.

And how do we look at the largest picture we can imagine of the United States? What's our problem? Where did we go wrong? Can we right ourselves?

Guns aren't the problem. Opioids aren't the problem. That so many people want guns and drugs and booze is a problem. Why do we want those things? Because nobody is playing I want to be a mass murderer or a dead drug addict at age 5. Really, no one. The system in which these, among many other things, are available at every truck stop, high-end resort, suburb and country town, is the problem. That people want to be anywhere else but where they are is the problem. More money, power, toys, highs, escapes, causes, cut and dried beliefs, bad guys to blame, that’s the problem. Be Here Now, hippie guru Ram Dass told us long, long ago. And he’s not alone. Dig into any religion or philosophy or the heart of any thoughtful person, and we’ll find a truth: this is what we have, let’s do our best.

So let's step back. Likely most of us are scared. We can't see a good future for ourselves and our children and grandchildren. We've been indoctrinated with a family of origin, a culture of origin, and religion of origin stories that often times don't serve us well. We treat our fellow citizens (U.S. and global) like crap. We treat ourselves like crap, too. Either satiating every desire, oppressing ourselves, as others have oppressed us or hanging on for dear life, to get another meal on the table for the kids.

dorothy firman
Source: Dorothy firman

Do we love ourselves? Not likely.

Are we proud of ourselves?

Do we do the best we can?

So let's do better. How about we take a few small steps, each one of us, towards a better world. You know what steps you could take. No two people have the same road to travel, but every person is called to travel the road of their life. To do better, get help when you need it (cup of sugar from a neighbor? hug? therapy?). Give help when you can. When your head hits the pillow at night, don't be drunk or stoned or angry or even numb. Breathe. How did I do today, taking one small step forward? What can I do tomorrow? Give yourself a hug. You deserve it. Life is hard.

More from Psychology Today

More from Dorothy Firman Ed.D. LMHC, BCC

More from Psychology Today