There’s an old comedy routine about how every driver thinks he is going the perfect speed, and that everyone else is wrong. A fellow tooling along at 55 miles an hour calls someone going 45 “Grandma,” and when a kid whizzes past him at 70, he’ll call that guy a “maniac.” Meanwhile, the kid, who sees himself as cruising comfortably at 70, calls the first guy a “retard,” but is totally shocked when some “fool” goes flying by him at 95.
Perceptions about addictions sound much the same.
Two teens at a party, having a couple of beers, think their drinking is normal and that the “goody-goody” who doesn’t drink is just immature, stuck in the dark ages, or a “scaredy-cat.” However, in the wee hours, when they discover an upperclassman puking, having drank 3 shots of tequila, they typically recognize that guy as “out-of-control.”
Follow the buddies into college and you’ll find them downing an easy half-dozen beers at a keg party, playing beer pong, or other “fun” drinking games that “cool” people play. When they get the history m ajor from down the hall drunk on two beers, they’ll call him a “lightweight,” a “wuss,” or a “Momma’s boy.” However, when the 29-year-old, 6th year senior joins the party with a bag of pills, they clearly see him as “creepy,” “gross,” and “a waste of flesh.”
Graduation brings celebration. The pals down several beers waiting for the ladies, have a few glasses of wine over dinner,then attend the bash of the century, party the night away, smoking pot for the first time, just for the heck of it. They laugh at their dates who got tipsy on the wine, and call them “prudes” for leaving early. For kicks they go to the local bar where they notice a former student who flunked out several semesters ago who offers them cocaine. They high-tail it out of there, realizing that they had accidentally gone into a “scummy bar” where “drug addicts” and “freaks” hang out.
Years later, the young men are enjoying success. They eat well, they play hard, and they drink for many reasons. Basketball on Tuesdays is followed by wings and beer. Wednesday is trivia night at the sports bar, which includes burgers, beers, and maybe a few shots. Friday brings cocktails and appetizers at Happy Hour where they rub elbows with those who can further their careers. Saturdays are a day to let loose with a few drinks and a little weed and Sundays are for relaxation, watching football with a few beers and the dog. They really don’t think much about people who don’t drink because all of their friends do. They still recognize heroin as being “over the line,” but various sports injuries may have them viewing narcotics as harmless pain relievers.
A far cry from when they started as teens, but do they have a problem? Are they addicts? Alcoholics? Certainly not, they’ll argue. It’s the homeless guy in the gutter that has a problem, not them. It’s the druggie in jail that has an addiction, not them. It’s the crack whore selling herself on the street who needs help, not them.
Well, I got news for ya, buddies. You’re on the same road, you’re just not going as fast. Give yourself another 20 years, you’ll get there too.
Dr. Marlo Archer is a licensed psychologist specializing in working with kids, teens, and their families. She can be reached at www.DrMarlo.com or 480-705-5007. Follow Down To Earth Enterprises on Facebook or DrMarloArcher on Twitter.