“Anything that takes away pain is addictive,” is what the author, who works as a psychiatrist at Stanford Outpatient Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, often tells his patients. The author, who has met tens of thousands of patients over 20 years, claims that pleasure and pain are on each end of the scale. In fact, when our brain receives a stimulus, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine to feel pleasure and pain. When you feel pleasure, pain accompanies as a reaction like a balance scale. Addiction begins when you seek out more stimulating pleasure to get rid of pain.
Will you be happy once you get rid of pain? The author says no. Rather, the author criticizes modern medical science that sees pain as something to be eliminated. Thomas Sydenham, an English physician in the 17th century, viewed pain positively that he said moderate level of pain is the remedy that nature uses in its wisest way. However, modern medical science has prescribed numerous medications to relieve some pain. In the U.S., the number of adults, who take prescribed tranquilizers, soared by 67 percent in 2013 compared to 1996. This is not only applied to medications. Instagram, YouTube and Netflix… there are so many pleasures that help you forget about your pain. The more you try to escape from the pain, the more you become surrounded by addiction.
The first step to get rid of pain is to accept the pain. Delilah, a teenage girl who came to see the author, realized that she can endure anxiety without the help of marijuana after quitting marijuana for a month. Another patient, who had been relying on painkillers for 10 years to relieve chronic pain, has begun reducing the medication and listened to music when in pain. They have found their own way to manage their pain.
There are moments when you seek out pleasure to get rid of your pain. In those moments, it would be helpful to recall the words the author left to a drug addict who came to see him. “Enduring the pain is hard, but it is an opportunity to look into your thoughts, feelings and sufferings.” Following the author’s advice, you may come to realize that the strength to endure the pain is already within you.