Understanding and working effectively with addiction dependencies and the 4th drive - 27th October 2018

by John Kapp 

Dave McNamara has been drug and alcohol worker in Brighton & Hove since 2000, and now delivers high quality drug and alcohol awareness and harm minimisation training to a wide variety of organisations and service providers. He deplored that funding has been cut from detox and rehab units services in the city, which has contributed to the rise in mental sickness and homelessness.

His seminar attracted a high turnout (20), who said they felt challenged by addiction in their clients and themselves, and wondered what the 4th drive is. Dave said it human’s 4th strongest need, after food, drink and sex, and is a feeling of missing safe support, for which we all crave, (some more than others) and which can temporally be satisfied by an activity or substance misuse to which we may become addicted. This can manifest as intrusive thoughts, and is why we seek altered states of consciousness, including intoxication.

He said that addiction is neither a sin, (as thought by the Victorians) nor an incurable disease, (which a common misconception today) but a natural coping mechanism to fill the 4th need for support. He gave us a quiz in groups to bust myths and stigma about addicts, such as ‘once and addict, always an addict’. Contrary to common belief, most people so recover from even the strongest addictions (alcohol, heroin) but they may need a lot of compassionate help and time to do so with therapists, friends and family, who understand where they are coming from, and why they do it.

His website (www.justsayknow.co.uk) has much practical information about this important subject. In the discussion I asked whether the missing support could be from a missing father or grandfather (as shown in family constellation group therapy) which Dave thought possible.