In Part 1 of this article, the Land of Substance Abuse seemed so far away. You once heard the distant cries of outrage about an overdose or drug-related robbery, but your journey never took you anywhere near that fearful place.
But now you find discarded syringes and forged prescription scripts scattered about your footpath. You quickly realise that life's journey has taken you perilously close, and you need Tools to Survive the Land of Substance Abuse.
Tools to Survive the Land of Substance Abuse
Distress Tolerance and Problem Solving Tools
In the Land of Substance Abuse, your distress is dampened. You are distracted from, or numbed to, the emotional pain, and so you believe the illusion that it solves all of your problems. This is an illusion because the Land of Substance Abuse only creates more problems. And if you are not careful, you could forever become trapped in this dangerous Land.
There are alternative ways to deal with your distress and better ways to solve your problems. If you are too quickly turning back towards the Land of Substance Abuse, you may need help in the early days of recovery. If you have never gone rock climbing, you don't just jump off the side of a cliff and hope for the best. There are trained professionals to help you, at least in the early days, to get you on your way.
These trained professionals will help you to develop better tools for distress tolerance and problem-solving, and these include tools from Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). These are very accessible forms of therapy, and there are worksheets and handouts widely available.
Multi-Purpose Travel Companion Tools
Your Travel Companions are Multi-Purpose Tools to help you Survive the Land of Substance Abuse. They offer you the following different Tools, depending on your given need:
Professor Alexander discovered that the rats were only interested in the drugs when they were in isolation. When they were allowed to run free with other rats, when they could connect with each other, they barely touched the drugs at all. Some argue that the truth to Substance Abuse lies in connection to others, or the lack of it.
Rebuild Base Camp
As we saw in Part 1 of this article, some of us journey to the Land of Substance Abuse because our Base Camp is broken. Why stay in a camp with a leaking tent, no dry wood for a fire, and dwindling food rations?
For some of us, who were given the Male Label at birth, but who identify as Gender Diverse, a member of the LGBTQ+ community (because of our sexuality), or a Person of Color, we turn to the Land of Substance Abuse to cope with the Minority Stress that we experience at a broken Base Camp. (I discuss the concept of Minority Stress in my article Surviving the Dark Void of Depression Part 2.)
If we are really going to Survive the Land of Substance Abuse, we need to fix our broken Base Camp. We need to tackle the sources of Minority Stress, and so we need to tackle structural oppression in the form of
The American Psychological Association (APA) has made several suggestions to tackle this structural oppression, and these are set out in the 2018 Report (a full copy is attached to this article). One of their suggestions is to allow for better access to employment, and better job security, for people who are Gender Diverse, other members of the LGBTQ+ community, and Persons of Colour. At this very moment, the Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to afford protection to federal employees who fear being fired simply for their Sexuality or Gender Identity. Imagine how unsettling that might be right now for any federal employee who is in this category.
If we are to truly Survive the Land of Substance Abuse, our survival does not just depend on an individual's efforts. No matter how well-crafted a person's Tools, if their Base Camp is broken, then we, as a society, need to tackle the structural oppression that takes the form of transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, and racism.
So what do you think?
Does any of this resonate with you? Get in touch by sending me a message privately via the Contact Page, or add a public comment below, and engage in the debate.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Therapist, writer, educator, and LGBTQ+ advocate