Saturday, May 16, 2009

Can Drug Dealing be an Addiction?

So often, recovering addicts spend weeks and months in drug treatment programs and never address the one behavior most likely to pull them back into drug use and illegal activities: involvement in the drug trade. While few figures are available, anecdotally, I believe that perhaps as many as 1/3 of those in substance abuse treatment programs also had some involvement in drug sales. While in drug treatment, they may explore childhood traumas, anger problems, family issues, relapse triggers, but somehow never address the central issue of their past involvement in drug dealing.

Yet for an addict, a return to drug dealing is a virtual guarantee of relapse to drug use as well. Drug dealing itself can be an addiction, I believe, akin in some ways to gambling. The lure of "quick, easy money" and some past experience that reinforces this belief is almost too much to resist. (Especially for someone just out of rehab or prison, yearning to have "things" again, who hasn't much legal work history and the notion of working at minimum wage is tough to swallow...) In addition, drug dealing delivers a habit-forming adrenaline rush of excitement, access to sex, a kind of power and "respect," status, and material pleasures. It's a pretty powerful pull!

We at Reelizations made a ground-breaking video, Getting Out of the Game: The Trap of Drug Dealing to address this important subject. It includes interviews with former drug dealers who successfully made the break and "got out of the game," detailing the strategies they used to counter the inevitable pull back to the streets and dealing.

Love to know what you think about this topic. Most drug treatment programs don't address it at all. Yet many addicts through the years have told me this is their central addiction.

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