If there is one author who knows a lot about dealing with drugs, and can better stress the message the addiction is a mental disorder, it’s Maia Szalavitz.
The American reporter and author who has focused on science, public policy and addiction treatment was arrested in 1986 and charged with possessing a significant amount of cocaine. Instead of graduating at the Columbia University, she was going to face at least 15 years of imprisonment due to her dealing with drugs.
Discussing the challenges of the current war on drugs in America, Szalavitz in her new book “Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction” notes that to be able to deal with the problem, addicts have to first identify their addiction.
According to her, addicts continue to use drugs despite their families being mad at them. They continue to consume drugs even when they know that it could cause them to lose their jobs. She doesn’t seem to see therefore how the threat of being jailed will be different. According to the author, “addiction persists despite negative consequences.”
While her experiences have taught her that addiction is indeed a learning and mental disorder, Szalavitz notes that the society needs to completely change its perception of treating addiction patients, as well as its perception of addiction as a whole.
“People who become addicted are wired differently, and it affects the manner in which they learn,” she says, adding that addictions sometimes “are blessings hidden inside of curses,” meaning they have their own advantages.
Sharing her own story, Szalavitz notes how her addiction and compulsive tendencies led her to become a great journalist. She stresses that society ought to change its way of thinking and fully understand that with every experience comes an iota of goodness no matter how negative the situation may seem.
Szalavitz concludes that we should recognize addiction more as a learning disorder to be able to deal with its negative consequences.