It’s often said that those who turn to drink or drugs as a coping mechanism do so because they have tortured minds, and that they do so to ease the pain. To forget the bad, if only temporarily.

While one may well do so for those reasons, it is unfair to tarnish all those with such addictions with the same brush. It’s easy to see why one may turn to such methods; often I feel dangerously close to it myself. But it’s not enough to just say that one wants to forget, that one has been through the terrible, heinous things in their life we read of in the news on a daily basis, and that addicts are the sole product of those things.

Sure, for some that is sadly true; death, abuse, violence all triggers, and those issues should be addressed and that person offered support not just on an interpersonal level, but by the very established society they are part of (sadly this often isn’t the case, and is a fundamental flaw with the world we live in – and I must add that this piece is by no means taking anything away from these people, I use the word victim in the core sense of the word, in no way do I belittle these people) - but those with such addictions are not necessarily the victims of such devastation.

There are those who turn to such methods of coping not because they’ve experienced pain - well, not pain of such magnitude which is the result of something happening that one would be entirely shocked to hear of - although as an aside, how one can rank the pain of others is beyond me, and in my humble opinion, completely futile. After all, we all experience pain. Without the pain, we wouldn’t know what is good, as we’d have nothing to judge it against.

There are those who turn to such addictions because they see the world differently, in a way that upsets the natural order of things such as politics and hierarchy and the accepted norm.

Those, like many writers, artists and innovators (as an example), that walk around blindly yet all-seeing, those that don’t just see colours and shapes but see depth and aura and mood. Those that are more sensitively attuned to the world around them, yet completely disconnected from it at the same time. Those whose minds do not allow them to stop analysing everything and everyone they come across on their journey through life. Those that see meaning in something a layman wouldn’t, those that see wondrous potential in something as mundane as a cloud in the sky or a leaf falling from a tree.  

Those that overanalyse everything that they come across, often subconsciously, whose minds just do not shut down and rest – invariably leading to exhaustion and a heightened sense of emotion, perpetuating the vicious circle and leading to more of the same, amplified exponentially. Those that drink or take drugs simply because they are worn out from all the speculation their minds force upon them and would like a snatched moment of peace of mind.

Does their addiction make them a bad person, as society seems to judge anyone who does indeed have an addiction? In my opinion, absolutely not.

Sadly the societies we live in are not set up that way; not able to see that a coin does not simply have two sides, but an almost-infinitesimal number of sides. Sides that represent each and every one of us on this planet we call home, each and every one of us carrying our own ideals, hopes and dreams. Ideals, hopes and dreams that can’t be generalised in a census report or opinion poll or psychology textbook, as seems to have been the case all through history.

I often find myself longing for a drink. I do right now, in my tired, sleep-deprived, devoid-of-money—and-motivation state. I’m not afraid to say that. I’m not afraid to say that there have been times where I’ve drunk myself into near oblivion, simply because I wanted my brain to shut down enough to snatch at more than a few hours’ sleep. Times where I’ve wanted to stop analysing everything to the point where it becomes muddled, and needed more analysis to untangle. Times where I have been judged to have a problem simply because I’ve woken up with a raging hangover.

If I have a problem, it’s with being told that I cannot use something as a window to another perspective. It’s with knowing that society crucifies those who dare to think differently, who dare to explore the possibilities that go against the canon of religion and politics and the ethics that we swallow as right when indeed they are simply the opinions of those who have gone unchallenged in history. It’s with not being trusted to follow whatever path I am on to my own enlightenment, especially when that path is littered with steep climbs and even steeper falls.

It’s with the false dawns we are promised by those we have placed our trust in to lead us accordingly; constantly being made to feel that there is no hope, when all they talk about is hope.

It’s easy to criticise one with an addiction, to say that one is out of control. But all too conveniently it’s forgotten that addicts are also those who have helped shape the world we live in. Those addicted to power, to fame, to the pursuit of knowledge, to victory, to discovery, to peace and to war. Sometimes, being out of control enables one to be genuinely more free.

Just because one walks a different path, it does not mean the destination is any different, better or worse.