There are various reasons why one uses drugs and alcohol in cultures around the world. Historically, the most prevalent reason has been as a doorway to the spiritual realm. Though escapism, another motivation for drug use, is nothing new, it seems to be the current trend. What, in our new technology driven age, has turned the tides and caused many to throw away their own reality for a false one?
There is a certain cookie cutter picture ingrained in our minds of what normal really is. Though, as individuals, we are wildly different, we have a forced desire to conform to the standard. This picture given to us consists of how we should look, how we should act, and, more importantly, how we should feel. If we are out of alignment in any of these areas, our personal reality is perceived as being less than perfect.
We learn at a young age that it is more desirable to match the cultural standard of attractiveness, this includes our body proportion and our style of dress. The environment around us makes it seem to us that those who match this attractive picture are happier and have more opportunities in their lives. When we don’t have the right genetic makeup or the funds for the utmost fashionable attire, our concept of self-worth is lowered.
More important than our outward appearance is our inward experience. We come to think that our inward world should always be this perfect place of happiness and bliss. Any feeling that can be construed as negative sets off an alarm that tells us that something is wrong, that we are not normal, that we are in need of repair. We are not taught that negative emotions have their place in life and that everyone experiences them.
When the alarm of self-sickness is sounded we are driven to compare our lives to those around us. We see that everyone else seems to be happy, that they are living successful lives, and that they are conforming to the image of normal. In this way we are distanced from society and left to rot, creating even deeper negative emotion reinforcement.
Behind the veil of happiness and success of the people around us, we will often find a reality that is quite contrary. Everyone experiences negative emotion, yet everyone desires to hide it. The thought is, “If I can’t feel normal, at least I can appear normal.” The hard fact, however, is that normal consists of times of grief, times of anger, and even times of jealousy. Continual happiness is the abnormality.
When either of these things lead us to seek a remedy, many find drugs and alcohol to be the answer. With a distorted state of mind, one can escape the idea of conformity or at least forget it for a time. This ultimately leads only to drug addiction and adds to our perceived abnormality.
We must teach people that success is not based on the outward appearance, that our lot in life is not determined solely on our access to fine clothing and ‘attractive’ genes. More than this, we must teach people that it’s good to be sad sometimes, that it’s okay to get angry, that it’s normal to have feelings of jealousy. Instead of showing each other that the depths of human emotion is something to be fixed, let’s teach each other what to do with it, and help each other when we are overwhelmed. That is what is truly normal.