It could be argued that many who call themselves martial artists have control issues. Some of us freely admit it, many of us have yet to become comfortable with such admissions. When one lives a life of control one often seeks a way to release, or let go of that control. Unfortunately drugs and alcohol often fill this desire by loosening inhibitions, relaxing the body, and slowing the constant hum of the mind. A happy medium is found with some people where we know when too many drinks have been had and they can back off. Others have a hard time controlling the demons they wrestle with in their minds and keep pushing the envelope by going to harder and harder drugs, or by allowing the drug to take over and control their life.
Many thanks to Tim for sharing this great story from ESPN's Outside the Lines regarding a local Pacific NWer Richard Jensen, who fell into the later category I mentioned above allowing meth to take over his life and control him for over a decade of his adult life. Here is his inspirational story:
For those who have never suffered from addiction issues it is easy to point fingers and speak of how weak a person is to allow such things to happen in their life. The simple fact of the matter is if you have never struggled with drug or alcohol addiction then you have no fucking inkling of a clue of what happens with someone on a mental, physical, and emotional level. We all have demons. Most of us get through life and never have to address the demons living in our cellar. Yet some of us have to look them straight in the eye and literally make life or death decisions EVERY SINGLE DAY!
Stories like Richards make me happy that someone found the light and struggled through to the other side. As Richard states, "Getting clean is easy. Staying clean is the hard part." But for every Richard, their are thousands out there that never find the light and are consumed by the demons that haunt them for the rest of their lives. And what angers me is the approach our society takes here in the good ol' US of A.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease. That has been proven scientifically and is not up for debate. Yet our judicial system continues to treat it as a criminal act, locking up non-violent offenders who are never offered rehabilitation programs and are put into prisons where drug addiction takes on a whole new perspective. They are not reformed. They are not helped. They are made into violent monsters and pushed under the rug to be forgotten about, only to be released with a slim chance of reintegration. This I have witnessed first hand.
So when you see stories such as Richard's take a moment and think a little. Are you helping or hurting your brothers and sisters when you vote down the decriminalization of marijuana? Should we continue to allow private companies to be building and running prison systems when there is a clear conflict of interest between the number of inmates and pure profit for the company running the prison? When you scoff "Fucking drug addict" at the homeless bum begging for change, do you wonder if you would have the same attitude if he was addicted to the same cigarettes you smoke, or lattes you drink (keep in mind that tobacco and caffeine are some of the most addictive, and easy to get, LEGAL DRUGS available to our children)?
Take a moment and find out what is REALLY going on in our backyard and you may just walk away appalled and disappointed that you really are not living in a "first world" country. Over 50% of our prisons are filled with nonviolent first time drug offenders! Fifty fucking percent people! Depending on what state you are from you could be doing a mandatory minimum of 5-10 years for the bag of grass you bought as an adult (for more info on mandatory minimums visit FAMM a great non-profit that is actually trying to change our backward ass laws)! That is reality!
For some of us just making it to the dojo and getting on the mat is the only way we can keep from regressing into old habits and patterns of darkness and to stay clean and sober.
Hopefully this has provided some food for thought.
For those who did not make it, and for those who struggle every single day you are not alone......