Sunday, 27 July 2014

Substance and Destruction.

The term ‘substance abuse’ is an interesting one because, logically, it ought to mean ‘the abusing of a substance.’ That makes little sense, of course, and what it actually means is ‘using a substance to abuse oneself.’

I was thinking tonight about the various kinds of people who do ‘substance abuse’ and the various reasons why they do it. The list grew surprisingly long, and the subject surprisingly complex. There’s no one reason why people get hooked on drugs, alcohol or the smell of adhesives.

What caused me to ponder this slightly depressing subject was reading about Sandy Denny and her early death at the age of 31. (I decline to use the term ‘premature death,’ incidentally, because none of us knows what, if anything, lies behind the business of life.)

Substances weren’t the direct cause of her death – she had a fall which caused a brain injury – but it seems they laid the foundation for the train of events which led there. And it seemed to me that Sandy Denny was an example of a type – the highly sensitive, keenly aware type who uses substances as a defence against the torturous depth of feeling to which such people are prey.

Or maybe there’s another reason. Maybe such people are so aware of the imperfections inherent in physical existence that they need to punish themselves for being a part of it. I’m speculating, of course, but it does seem ironic that those people are the ones whom the substances soon destroy.

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