The Tail of the Raccoon, Part III: Departures – Educational and Scientific Commentary

The Flute: Drug addicts self-report that the most common and prominent factor that drove them into drug use was the psychological pain of the feeling of emptiness. Prior to becoming addicted, they felt empty because they were lacking a purpose or direction in life, lacking a reason to get up in the morning, lacking goals, or hope, or lacking things and persons of interest. Their sense of emptiness is due to a lack of connection to people, to a purpose or ambition, or to a process of personal growth with which they are deeply engaged. They are lost and feel the pain of floating aimlessly, without direction, in a meaningless existence.

For the addict suffering from feelings of emptiness, drugs fill the void. Drugs provide a basis around which to build relationships with people and to become deeply engaged in the goal-directed activities of procuring and using the drug. The repetitive daily rituals involved in obtaining, preparing, and self-administering the drug become well-learned automatic habits, which come to serve as the central organizing principle of their lives. As addiction closes in, and drug-taking becomes their sole connection to the world, it displaces any other alternatives that can provide any semblance of meaning and purpose to their lives.

After the addict hits rock bottom, the recovering drug addict is asked to remain abstinent, to concentrate on not doing the one single thing that has been the long-standing dominant focus of their drug-centric lifestyle. It should come as no surprise that the recovering addict finds it impossible to sit around and not think about drugs. Pre-addiction, their lives were empty. Drugs filled the void, and now that drugs are banned, those feelings of emptiness will surely return, and, most likely, will be felt even more intensely than before. The recovering addict is faced with precisely those conditions that led them into drug addiction in the first place. To successfully sustain long-term recovery, the addict must become engaged in something other than using drugs. The addict must develop an activity or interest that sets them on the path to becoming involved, connected, and distracted from thoughts about drugs. In the story, Lepus launches his voyage into the future with hope and optimism, while armed with an emerging and newfound interest in learning to play the flute.