Don’t do drugs

22 Jun 2018

If I would get a euro for every time someone makes a marihuana joke because he or she learns that I study in the Netherlands, I would eventually not be able to pay my tuition fee for a year, but it’s very likely that I could go out for a fancy dinner in the city.

Obviously, living in the Netherlands doesn’t make you a drug addict. The legalisation of marihuana, as a matter of fact, doesn’t make you a drug addict either. Some would even argue that smoking weed doesn’t make you an addict at all, a standpoint that is, from a psychological perspective, very questionable, but that’s not the point. The point is that drugs are an issue and that young people are generally considered a vulnerable population when it comes to drug problems. But again, obviously, being in your teens or beginning twenties doesn’t automatically make you snort cocaine.

So where is the exact line between drinking too much alcohol once in a while and being an alcoholic? When does marihuana use develop into a dependence? Addiction is a complex biological, psychological and sociological issue and I would question whether we can pinpoint it down to a simple one-cause-one-effect relationship. Nevertheless, there is certain empirical evidence that gives at least an idea what plays into the development of addiction.

Research carried out by psychologist Bruce Alexander suggests that addiction is not necessarily a simple physical process, but instead heavily dependent on the environment. So whether an addiction is developed depends, beside other things, also on your social contacts, how fulfilled your life is and, bluntly said, how happy you are. This is obviously a very simple way to put a way too complex problem, but you get the point.

What I want to say: we all experience academic failures, social isolation, health declines, and, generally, things that seem to make you lose your grip. Life sometimes sucks. And everyone has different ways to cope with it. Some drink too much alcohol, some smoke too much weed, some go on excessive shopping trips, some Netflix a lot. That doesn’t make you an addict, but it can make you cross the line into an addiction.

I was recently watching Blues Brothers for the first time and after falling completely in love with the movie, I want to give you this song on the way, as a literal message: Everybody Needs Somebody To Love. Talk to each other. Be kind to each other. And watch out for each other. Especially in stressful exam times like these. Because there are too many people lost, because they couldn’t or simply didn’t reach out. One of them is John Belushi, one of the main actors of Blues Brothers, who died at age 33 of a drug overdose.

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