On his 2018 album Punken, H-Town rapper Maxo Kream featured a song called “Pop Another,” which surprisingly contains a sample from “Reality in Motion” by Tame Impala. Excerpted lyrics include (not sequentially):
“Pop another seal, pop another pill. Xanax, Seroquel, take it like Advil”
“Chase the Adderall with the alcohol”
“I feel Xantastic”
Maxo mentions a number of popular pharmaceutical brands, presumably in relation to substance abuse—not to be confused with substance use or dependence. In particular, the rapper references the coupling of various substances, which alludes to polysubstance abuse.
The soothingly melodic tone of “Pop Another,” with the pensively harmonious Tame Impala sample and mixed with a deep bass line that will put one’s subwoofers to the test, serves as a suitable metaphor for how substances can impact a system other than one’s stereo—in particular, your system as a human being.
For instance, consider Xanax. It’s a commonly prescribed medication used for treating anxiety and panic disorders. Colloquially, it’s a “downer” that is understood to have a system-depressing effect.
Similarly, Seroquel is an antipsychotic medicine typically used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar, and in some cases major depressive disorder. With more intense effects than Xanax, it is informally thought of as a “downer,” as well.
When popping the seal to Codeine, an H-Town trend for many decades, this medication has the potential to relieve mild to moderate pain and reduce coughing. Commonly referred to as “syrup,” it, too, has a depressing effect on the system.
On the other hand, Adderall is generally used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. As a stimulant, it is idiomatically referred to as an “upper.”
Chasing or following a stimulant with alcohol (a system depressant) impacts the cardiovascular, respiratory, and central nervous system when the body receives contradictory signals to simultaneously increase and decrease functions. Mixing all of these substances together can prove fatal in some cases.
I’ve blown subwoofers from overuse of various music genres. Likewise, some people have destroyed their internal systems from use and abuse of assorted substances.
With some similarities as Maxo, though certainly not in the substance use/abuse/dependence category, I approach my clientele’s relationship with substances from a place of curiosity. When I was younger, on the blocc we used to say, “Wats craccin’?” to determine what was happening.
Today, I don’t jump at the opportunity to pathologize substance-involved behavior, declaring all use as abnormal, unhealthy, bad, or wrong. Rather, I seek to know what’s up with people’s behavior and how it serves them—or not.
For instance, if John Doe tells me he chases Adderall with alcohol, I desire to know more about what purpose the use or abuse serves. Is it habitual, done out of habit or on a regular basis?
What effect do the substances have on John? Is his social or occupational life impacted by his relation to substances? Have there been any legal issues associated with his behavior?
Since beginning use of substances, has John ever had a period of sobriety? If so, for how long? If not, what has been the most significant reason he’s been unable to moderate use or stop using altogether?
These and other questions posed from a nonjudgmental place of interest can help me understand wats craccin’ with John. After all, it’s been my experience as a mental health practitioner that substance use/abuse/dependence is often a symptom of a much deeper issue.
Sometimes, people aren’t fully aware of why they use. Other times, people know quite well why they continue the behavior. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, I first listen and then work with clients to address the matter. Together, we find out wats craccin’.
It is worth noting that I use a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) approach to substance-related problems. For more information about an REBT path to help with addictions, you may find this video and this video useful.
As mentioned, I tend not to pathologize use/abuse/dependence. Therefore, for those in search of inpatient care, I encourage you to search for region-specific resources within your local area or state.
As well, while I offer outpatient care, I do so as a means of treating the person and not the stigmatized problem. This can sometimes serve as a barrier to treatment when people are ordered to state-specific mandated care (e.g., seeking 30 hours of substance abuse counseling from an accredited facility).
Generally, regarding substance disorders, I assist clients in the same manner as I do any other issue. I offer individual teletherapy within the state of Texas, using a self-pay approach to care.
The sobering Tame Impala sample on “Pop Another” states, “I never had a chance to…there’s no one else ar[ound].” It speaks to the isolation and desperation so many people experience on a daily basis.
Escapism in the form of substances may numb the pain for a while. Then what? More substances. Then what? More? And then?
Tossing various substances down the hatch, chasing it with additional substances won’t bury what’s at the bottom of that vast pit in the center of you. So, wats craccin’?
You can feel “Xantastic” for only so long. Rather than helping you feel better, I use REBT to help clients get better. Are you ready to stop shoveling substances down a boundless abyss and to seek improved functioning with an enhanced quality of life?
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, and hip hop head from the old school, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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