There’s something here for everyone. Habit change is never an easy road. Whether it’s sugar or opioids, smoking or exercise, everyone is faced at some point with the need to crack an addiction and/or poor behavior. That others have made dramatic changes in their lives can act as both a catalyst and beacon of hope and inspiration for our own journeys.
Most of us will never hit the kind of rock-bottom that Kleat slammed face-first into (both metaphorically… and literally — you’ll have to tune in for that story), but we can all learn from those who have.
Not yet familiar with this story? Check out this post: From Chains to Gains: a Life in Transition
I find it interesting, too, that during Kleat’s formative years, Iceland, under the guidance of American psychologist, Harvey Milkman, completely curbed that country’s teen substance abuse problem.
Milkman found that the root of substance abuse was stress and directionlessness. Or, rather the immense hopelessness in dealing with those feelings. Those who chose to dull the pain went the depressant route (alcohol, heroin), with cocaine and other amphetamines being the choice of those who felt they needed bolstering to confront those perceived inadequacies.
Milkman’s answer wasn’t rocket science — give teens direction, responsibility, meaning, and tribe. Although getting government backing for such an initiative might be considered a special kind of alchemy.
In listening to Kleat’s story (and the story of other addicts), we can see this scenario played out over and over again. Different set and settings maybe, but all with the same underlying stress and directionlessness. And although we’d like to think it so, economic class is no inoculation against the emptiness that drives addiction. Money and things can’t fill that void.
I don’t see the kind of government intervention taking place here that Iceland pulled off. We’re too diverse and politically fractured. At least, currently. Here, we have to rely on solely on tribe and community.
Which is a much tougher gig to pull off successfully. Because we know that the overall environment is everything. Pockets of sanity can for sure help, but until our culture as a whole changes, we’ll continually have to expel demons from those lost in the mire.
Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world ~