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Alcohol and other drugs - Why others and not me?

I had a great conversation this week with a family member affected by mental health, alcohol and other drug problems (she knows who she is :-) We were talking about how come some people can drink alcohol or take drugs and become addicted and others don't? We talked about how many centuries have passed where alcohol and other drug problems have existed and how no-one really knows the answer to this question. We considered how family members spend so much time and energy trying to find the answer to this question - when it's a bit like the answer to the question 'what is the meaning of life?' If you're into movies you might remember the answer is '42' but what does that mean? We contemplated that the answer might be like a mathematical problem where the answer 'just is'. For example, there's a rule that says 2 + 2 = 4. We learn that the answer is 4 and we accept that.

Having said this, we went on to discuss how helpful it can be to learn about social and biological reasons that can explain why some people become dependent and others don't. We also considered things like childhood trauma that can result in alcohol and drug use as a way to escape from the harsh realities of life. And of course, no one reasons fits all people because we are so different. At the end of our conversation we decided there are multiple possible answers to such complex drinking and drug taking problems. So rather than spend our time and energy trying to find a single answer to such a complex problem we decided that it might be more helpful to spend our time learning about the problem, finding out what we can do to support family members living with these problems and caring for ourselves along the way.

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