A: Many decades of research on substance use now indicates that the factors that contribute to the frequency, duration and severity of substance use episodes are very complex, and unique to each individual and their current circumstances. What this means in a nutshell is that there is no silver bullet when it comes to affecting people’s substance use. We like to call this the bio-psycho-social-spiritual view on substance use.
Why people take drugs and why they don’t
However, one of the biggest predictors of reduced negative outcomes related to substance use is unquestionably having something to do that feels meaningful. One of BEAP’s members likes to say, “The difference between a functioning and a non-functioning addict is that a functioning addict has a purpose—a reason to function.” We don’t think anyone has much chance of reducing or stopping substance use if they don’t first have a meaningful reason to become more-functional.
- Often the useful question, when it comes to substance use, is not “Why do people take drugs?” The answer to this is usually self-evident—centred around experiences that lead to physical/emotional/social discomfort or pain—which we all experience to some extent. That’s life! Focusing on this question can lead to a sense of hopelessness. There’s no way to take the experience of discomfort or pain out of life (even drugs can just mask it for a while).
- What might be a more-useful question is: “Why wouldn’t they?” What opportunities do people have where they are going to feel they matter—or will be missed if they are too out of it to show up? We think this provides a much more-hopeful focus. We can all do things that build connection and make people feel like they matter and will be missed when they aren’t around.
The need for “treatment” of individuals and their communities
Traditional “treatment” programs remove people from their surroundings and provide the opportunity to learn new ways to “get along” with the discomforts of life. While this can be helpful, if people return to lives where they don’t feel they matter, the chances for durable improvement are diminished.
- Even without “traditional” treatment, we have seen BEAP help people get along in different ways with their discomfort(simply because they have a reasonto get along with these discomforts differently).
- But perhaps most importantly, we have started to see BEAP provide a kind of “treatment” to and in the community… where individuals who were previously overlooked or branded a “problem,” are recognized as part of the “solution” as they positively represent the BEAP brand!
- Why should we fund BEAP to clean up the streets when my kid can’t get a job?
- Will this donation help people get off drugs?
- What exactly is BEAP doing and how is it doing it?
- Won’t having BEAP around scare away our customers?
- How do we know BEAP Ambassadors aren’t casing the place while they are doing their “work”?
- Won’t supporting active drug users just cause more problems in our community?