There are a few sure things about any addiction. One of them is that no one can make us quit using; we have to want to quit. They can lock us up and deprive us of our drugs, but that is forced abstinence, not quitting. If we are free to go our own way, no one else can make that decision for us, nor enforce it.
Another thing is that in order to remain abstinent and recover, we have to want that more than anything else in our life. If we quit for someone else, or a job, or whatever, we are likely to begin again when that particular thing is no longer so important in our lives. Why wouldn’t we? What’s stopping us? That said, if you want to quit for someone else, please feel free. It might take.
The decision whether or not to quit is ours, and ours alone, because no one can make us continue to use, either (although they can give us some great excuses). That being the case, what are some of the reasons we might have for quitting on our own?
One of the most common arguments is the old, “It’s my life, and it’s my business if I want to drink myself to death,” or the common variation, “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.” It’s hard to argue the first one, except on the basis of insanity. (It’s generally accepted that sane people don’t, under most circumstances, care for the idea of dying.) But the second? “I’m not hurting anyone but myself!” How bogus is that?
The fact is, over a lifetime, we impact hundreds — even thousands — of other people, affecting their physical, financial and/or emotional quality of life. Committing suicide, by whatever means, impacts everyone else in our lives. Unless we have the excuse of clinical depression, it’s the ultimate way to prove that we’re supremely selfish.
What if I want to go live in a cabin in the woods with fifty cases of gin and vermouth (I mustn’t forget the olives) and simply drink myself to death alone? That doesn’t cut it. How about all the heartache of the folks back home who may never know what happened to their friend or loved one, and the legal issues because no one knows if I’m dead or alive.
Let’s take it from the top. If I drink and/or drug until I die (or even if I don’t die), who am I hurting, besides myself?
- My family, who love me (even though they might not be able to stand being around me);
- My friends, who also love me in their way, and who chose to allow me into their lives with the expectation that I wouldn’t cop out of the relationship;
- The other people who depend on me — employers, employees, co-workers and the other people whose lives I influence in various ways;
- The people who will have to clean up the mess — physical, personal and financial — comfort the bereaved, and otherwise try to make better the chaos that my death will cause;
- The medical system that has to support the various treatments that I am bound to need before I finally manage to finish the job;
- The users of the medical system, who are deprived of timely service because resources are being expended on me;
- Every single person and party in the country who pays for any kind of health insurance. Why? Because one way or another, they’re paying higher premiums because of my refusal to take care of myself. Either hospitals are charging more because of people like me who can’t pay, or if my insurance covers me, they’re paying more for their own coverage to make up the loss.
And all those people who love and care about me will die a little themselves..
Oh, by the way, how about all the people I could have helped if I’d stayed alive and worked a program of recovery, instead of being so self-centered?
The dude was right: “No man is an island….”
So sure, it’s our choice. But do we really have the right to make it? Think about it.