McNay on Money

Dealing with Addictions

By: Don McNay
By: Don McNay

My first exposure to "White Rabbit" was when it was the theme song to a mid-1970's movie named "Go Ask Alice." That movie, about a high school drug abuser, was a haunting portrayal that reminded me of many of my friends. Several of my friends experimented with drugs.

One Pill Makes You Larger

One Pill Makes You Small

And the ones that mother gives you

Don't do anything at all.

 

- Jefferson Airplane

 

My first exposure to "White Rabbit" was when it was the theme song to a mid-1970's movie named "Go Ask Alice." That movie, about a high school drug abuser, was a haunting portrayal that reminded me of many of my friends. Several of my friends experimented with drugs.

 

They needed treatment, but treatment wasn't a popular concept then.

 

I made it through college, graduate school and the rest of my life isolated from the drug culture. I've never seen cocaine or harder drugs and wouldn't know how to find them.  Drugs are not a part of my world

 

Most of my childhood friends outgrew the drugs, had families and led productive lives.  I follow them on Facebook.  They seem to be doing well.

 

The key phrase is that they developed productive lives.  People with a purpose don't need drugs to escape.

 

Those productive lives would not have happened if they had spent a few years in the slammer.

 

Kentucky recently took a bold step when State Representative John Tilley, a Democrat from Hopkinsville and Senator Tom Jensen, a Republican from London, led a bi-partisan effort to reform the corrections system.  (Disclaimer: I gave money to Senator Jensen's campaign several years ago.)  These reforms put more focus on treatment and less focus on jail time for addicts.

 

It's been called a "landmark effort."  And a courageous one.  While it is far more popular to play to the crowd and demand locking up anyone with a problem, we are running out of space in jail and, even more importantly, throwing away people who can be helped.

 

When people fall into the abyss of drug and alcohol abuse, it is because they don't see a reason to stay connected to reality. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous work because people in the program bring love to the others and make them understand that they have an important reason to be in the world.

 

I asked a friend who stopped drinking 40 years ago how he was able to stop. He said it was because others in his AA program were able to lift him up and let him see the good in himself.

 

My friend is one of the most productive and influential people I know. All he has contributed to society stems back to those people in AA who helped him turn his life around.

 

It is easy to give up on addicts and try to warehouse them in jails. Too many people think along the lines of Ted Nugent, a washed-up, former third rate rock star, who says that "Drug addicts screwed- up their lives and we need to lock them away from those of us who have not."

 

I don't think everyone articulates the thought as coldly as Nugent does, but there is a big part of society that wants drug abusers to go away and hide.

 

The best hope for society is to follow the lead of programs like AA and help people, one day at a time, one person at a time. It is love, support and recognition of a higher power that will allow addicts to turn around their lives and make a contribution.

 

Kentucky's corrections reform bill gives addicts that chance.

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