Daily Vicissitudes of Life

To go beyond, to transcend suffering, we first need to deeply understand suffering. To understand anything, we must lean in close and examine it with open curiosity (rather than fear, reject & avoid it). One cannot become a skilled surgeon if one rejects blood as 'yucky'. Addicts find life too yucky to face with a clear, open mind-heart, and thus remain in developmental arrest in a world of suffering.

Sharon Cirone, a family physician who focuses on addiction medicine & psychotherapy at a Toronto hospital defines addiction as "anything that's done with regularity that has us avoid our internal experiences.

Many kids that are smoking (marijuana) daily, initiate for recreational reasons. It's fun, it's sociable, it's what the other kids are doing and over time they start to have realizations like ... Ah, look at this. This allows me to eat. I have a better appetite. Hmm. I'm feeling uncomfortable. I'm feeling sad. I'm feeling mad. I'm feeling nervous. Hmm. Let's have a joint. Let's smoke. And then over time they start to realize oh wow, I think I need this to fall asleep. Hmm. I haven't figured out how to cope with disappointment or anger or jealousy without smoking a joint. This is distressing.

We were designed to fall asleep without a chemical, to eat without a chemical. We all live in a society, as do teenagers, of immediate gratification, of trying to avoid any distress at all, of trying to turn anything around that's uncomfortable.

Learning distress tolerance is a really important human task and we learn it primarily in our young years.

Duncan McCue: What is the best way to talk to teenagers about marijuana use?

Sharon Cirone:

Whether it's with the patients that I work with in my practice, my own kids or my kids’ friends, my nieces and nephews — I try to approach it with an open non-judgmental conversation, engage them in the conversation, acknowledge that they have insight, they have experience and certainly not to approach it with a ‘just say no’ approach.

Find out what it is they're getting out of it. Why did they engage in this activity? What are the pros for it? What have they started to notice is not working for them? Let them know that they deserve to feel comfortable engaging in their life to eat, to sleep, to play with their friends, to feel down, to feel up without requiring a chemical. And that if sometimes they engage in activities that are for recreational purposes but they're not relying on a chemical to get through the daily vicissitudes of life, that's a very different thing than regular use and self-medicating."

CBC Radio, The Current, with Duncan McCue, November 25, 2016:


"I am not being flippant when I say that all of us suffer from addiction. Nor am I reducing the meaning of addiction. I mean in all truth that the psychological, neurological, and spiritual dynamics of full-fledged addiction are actively at work within every human being. The same processes that are responsible for addiction to alcohol and narcotics are also responsible for addiction to ideas, work, relationships, power, moods, fantasies, and the endless variety of other things. We are all addicts in every sense of the word."

May G. "Addiction and Grace. Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions." HarperCollins, NY, 1988.

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