A line from something I recently read…

“I try to remember what I learned from Bruce Alexander and Bud Osborn: You don’t need a chemical; you need a connection.” – from one of the last pages in Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari

In an effort to actually finish the books I buy, I have set a goal to read for at least 30 minutes a day. I have this habit of buying a book and then getting distracted, SQUIRREL…

distracted by another book. So, in 2021, I will finish my books.

Last year, a good friend sent me Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Day of the War on Drugs. It’s written in a research/narrative/opinion format, super interesting. Basically it maps out a case for drug legalization and regulation. And a fairly wide variety of drugs. The author explores the many arguments for and against these legal and cultural possibilities along with an in-depth dive into the history of the war on drugs. I grew up with D.A.R.E, I had our D.A.R.E. officer’s “card” in elementary school, the ones that looked like baseball cards. I had never consider how that movement fit into the broader picture of prohibition, opiate epidemic, and so much more. If you wonder why or how anyone could argue for massive drug reform, etc. it’s a worthwhile read. But it’s this one line toward the very end that I want to talk about.

“I try to remember what I learned from Bruce Alexander and Bud Osborn: You don’t need a chemical; you need a connection.”

“You don’t need a chemical; you need a connection.”

So 2020 not only brought me tons of time at home, a roller coaster of political conversations and discussions on diversity, but I also gained 20 pounds. Literally. 2020 added 20 pounds. Not that that’s terrible. This is not about body shaming, dieting, or really physical health at all. It’s that when I read that statement it immediately expanded beyond the authors intent.

Coincidentally, right before I re-picked up this book for completion, I had just finished The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. It was the book I posted about saying “Reading this type of stuff makes me want to go back to school!” It’s a great read about how trauma impacts the brain and so much more. Within both books you see a theme of how our responses to stress or trauma evolve in so many ways, along with how many of the issues we desire to address as a society are actually spill overs from much larger, less easy to discover, legislate, or even to discuss, concerns.

When I read this statement in Chasing the Scream it just kept popping up in my mind. I thought of a handful of people that this concept applied to, but really, I thought of myself. I eat when I’m hungry but I also eat, and eat dumb stuff that has no value, when I’m bored, when I’m angry, when I’m sad. I also find other ways to cope. I numb out through apathy or convince myself being sedentary for massive amounts of time makes sense.

I don’t’ need a ___________; I need a connection.

I had a good childhood. My parents loved, and love, me well. Sure we had our “stuff,” but I didn’t experience near the amount of pain, abandonment, or neglect others did. Still, I look for substitutes. I just do.

When I don’t feel connected, when I don’t feel solid and grounded, I grasp. I might reach for a thing, I might find a way to bury my head/avoid. Sometimes I just become overly critical, slumping into a season when certain people or certain systems are “all wrong” or “pointless.” Regardless the “it”, there is a marked difference in my life when I feel connected to God AND to others.

This applies not only in broad sweeping strokes, but also in my every day relationships and moments. When I don’t feel connected with Sal, it colors every comment. When there is disconnect between the boys and myself, we are quicker to fuss. I think disconnects are unavoidable; but what I want to learn to be more attentive to, is my grasping. I want to recognize the difference between choosing something from a place of disconnect, and making a choice/reacting from a place of being rooted and established (Ephesians 3:17), deeply connected.

Just consider. I think maybe someone else needs a reminder: you don’t need a ____________; you need a connection.

“You don’t need a chemical; you need a connection.” Chasing the Scream

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