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Addiction And Requiem For A Dream

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Requiem for a Dream depicts four individuals and their addictions to cocaine, heroin, and diet pills. Set in Brooklyn, New York, the characters each have their own dreams and addictions and their drugs are easily attainable trapping them in a cycle of dependence. The central character, Harry Goldfarb, is a young man who lives in virtual poverty because every cent he earns or steals goes toward his next high. He dreams of making a big enough score selling dope that will lead him to becoming financially stable and "on Easy Street" as he makes a home with his girlfriend. Tyrone, his best friend and business partner shares many of Harry's aspirations and addictions. Marion Jones, Harry's girlfriend, is an addict like her boyfriend and dreams of starting her own clothing business. The couple's addiction to drugs leads to the breakdown and ultimate demise of their love. Harry's widowed mother, Sara Goldfarb is as addicted to television as her son is to drugs. Following a visit her doctor concerning her weight, she is on her way to becoming hooked on the uppers and downers given to her to aid in her weight loss.

Drug addiction is a medical disease characterized by biochemical changes in brain chemistry that play a significant role in the physical symptoms of addiction, including cravings, seeking, withdrawal, and the persistent use even in the face of negative consequences. Whatever the drug of choice, its abuse can be identified by the maladaptive way in which it takes over the user's life, disrupting his or her relationships, daily functioning, and mental state. Drug addiction can be physical and/or psychological. Physical addiction characterized by tolerance and withdrawal, while psychological dependence consists of the user's need of the drug to maintain mental well-being. The signs and symptoms of drug addiction are tolerance, withdrawal, inability to stop using, preoccupation with using, giving up of or reducing activities that were once enjoyable, failure to fulfill social roles and obligations, using the drug under dangerous conditions, taking risks while using, drug-related legal problems, and drug-related interpersonal problems (Davison, 2007).

Most drug users do not start off with an addiction. They follow a natural progression towards drug abuse and dependence. Substance abuse usually starts as experimentation, the voluntary use of the drug frequently to solve a problem or to self medicate. The substance seems to be doing something positive in the eye of the user, so the individual begins taking more and enters the next stage, regular use. Some users will stay in this stage never developing a problem, while others will start using the substance in a way that can harm themselves or others, such as driving while intoxicated. The transition from regular use to regular use with risky behavior is often difficult to pinpoint. This risky use leads to substance dependence. The user may not be able to fulfill his/her major responsibilities at work or within the family, they repeatedly use the substance in dangerous situations, and may have repeated legal problems caused by using. They may repeatedly fail to show up for work and become withdrawn from their family members who will be able to detect the change in personality over time. Dependence than leads to addiction, which consists of uncontrollable drug craving, seeking, and use that persists even in the face of negative consequences. The user will often do anything to obtain the substance, including stealing, prostitution, and sale of the drug for profit. They may be completely withdrawn at this point from conventional society and only maintain relationships with other users. Addiction is a progressive disease and is long standing (The Partnership, 2006).

Medication and behavioral therapy are aspects of a rehabilitation process that often begins with detoxification. Easing withdrawal symptoms is very important in the first stages of treatment and in preventing a relapse. Inpatient hospital treatment provides such remedies. A customized treatment regimen can be crucial to a person's success in recovery. Not every addict should be treated the same. The regimen should address all of the aspects of an individual's life, including medical and mental health and follow up options. Behavioral Treatments help patients modify their attitudes and behaviors and increase healthy lifestyle skills and options. They can enhance the effectiveness of medication and help addicts stay committed to the treatment process. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a behavioral treatment with the goal of helping the user recognize, avoid, and cope with anything and everything involving their drug use and recovery (Davison, 2007). Therapeutic communities can also be extremely effective, especially for those who are severely addicted. They are highly structured programs that often involve residency for up to 12 months. It is important to recognize that no single treatment is appropriate for all individuals addicted to drugs (National, 2005).

In Requiem for a Dream, the main character, Harry Goldfarb is a heavy drug user. He is addicted to heroin and any other substance that he can inject into his veins. He uses marijuana and other drugs occasionally, but heroin is his drug of choice. The film opens with a symptom of Harry's addiction. He is stealing his mother's television set to pawn for money to buy drugs, which she then re-purchases later in the day and the cycle continues. Harry is clearly failing to fill his social role as a son in order to get high. The drugs come first to this young man. He has a preoccupation with the drug so much so that it leads him to begin buying and selling dope as a means of making money and getting high, rejecting conventional society.

Harry is never formally diagnosed, but the symptoms he shows throughout the film make it clear to the audience that he is addicted to drugs. His interpersonal relationships are slowly destroyed. Harry's only relationships are with other drug abusers, and it is clear that the only time he visits his lonely mother is when he needs money for drugs. As the film progresses, his relationship with his girlfriend deteriorates when he is unable to keep a steady flow of drugs and money coming into his home. They constantly bicker, and in a last ditch attempt to hit it big, Harry encourages the prostitution of Marion to her psychiatrist in order to obtain a large sum of money that will allow them to buy enough dope to be able to sell it and make a profit.

The drug becomes more important than his relationships and his health. He uses despite obvious negative consequences, and continues to shoot heroin into a wounded and infected arm. Even when the wound causes him so much pain, the craving for the drug takes over and he continues to inject until the wound morphs into a gaping, discolored,



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