By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
Having followed the lives of two Tepehua addicts for approximately 8 years, male and female, one wonders what the fight is like, as they cling to sobriety for a few years and then they suddenly let go again. The inevitable struggle of getting back up and righting their world for a short time until that release is needed one more time. Fighting addiction is a physical pain combined with a powerful mental pain. Many of us who have led sober lives or lived in a state of controlled addiction, have wondered what it is like down the rabbit hole.
Charles Ludwig Dodson (Lewis Carroll) described it in the story of Alice in Wonderland. As Lewis Carroll, writer of children’s books, academic extraordinaire, his main addiction was a ten-year-old girl called Alice, one of three sisters and the youngest daughter of Carroll’s friends the Liddell family. Although smoking opium was legal in the Victorian era, Carroll was never considered a user. It was Carroll’s sexuality that was in question, especially where little girls were concerned. He took various photographs of little Alice in states of partial undress which caused the Liddell family alarm and he was refused further contact with the girls.
In the 1960’s the BBC wrote an exposure suggesting Alice in Wonderland had an underlying drug theme that addicts could identify with – hallucinations of walls closing in, one’s body parts expanding and shrinking, psychedelic bugs and other forms. All the action in Alice takes place in an underworld, an unreal experience. One can never know if Lewis Carroll had hidden meanings in his book.
In England in 1955, psychiatrist Dr. John Todd first described the ‘Alice in Wonderland Syndrome’, also known as the ‘Lilliputian syndrome’, a temporary illness caused by a disorientating neurological condition which affects human conception. Many children have it when they have fevers, or sleep walk, but it usually disappears after a few years, depending on the severity. It happens to adults with or without hallucinatory drugs. Was Lilliputian syndrome what happened to Lewis Carroll whilst amusing Alice with a story she begged him to write?
The kind of professional help required to diagnose and treat Lilliputian syndrome (or any other of a myriad of causes of addiction) is simply not available in the rural areas and barrios. There is no professional help for drug abuse, especially if you cannot pay. Watching the two addicts all this time raises the questions: is it really a disease or is it merely a matter of self control and choices? does poverty cause addiction or addiction poverty? is there an addictive personality?
Addiction is an equal opportunity provider with no socioeconomic boundaries. The only difference is money – if you have it you can get help and you have a place to go. And you can afford your questionable pleasure. There is no place to go for those in poverty. Because every drug of choice is available and outside opportunity is nil in the barrios, young minds can be sucked into a camaraderie, a support group as they go down the rabbit hole together, where they find a security the outside world is not providing. And as life is all about choices, the wrong choices are inevitably made. Most people in barrios live under the poverty line, most addictions are with the men, but when a woman is addicted she goes all the way to the bottom of degradation in ways men cannot experience.
There is always light at the end of the tunnel, at least for some, if they look for it. The rest need help from their friends. Please throw a life line if you can. You never know, one day it will be returned just when you need it.