It Isn't The Quicksand That Will Kill You When You're An Addict

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Young girl addicted to drugs with hallucinations

You've seen it in movies. You've read about it in books. Quicksand is a hidden natural phenomenon that can kill unsuspecting travelers. But did you know it isn’t sinking into the quicksand that will kill you? There is often a misconception that people falling into quicksand die by drowning. Although that can be the case, it is not really what kills them.  

Rarely, do people who fall into quicksand get sucked under, leaving no trace that there was ever a body. Researchers have discovered that in wet quicksand, your body will stop sinking before your head goes under the surface. So if it isn’t drowning, then what is it? It is the fact that you can’t get out without help. 

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Quicksand traps the person and usually, there is nothing close enough to reach for and use to pull oneself out. Thus the person is left out in the elements, possibly exposed to the unprotected sun without being able to get food or water. Without help, the person will not die by drowning, but rather by starvation. A person may even try to get themselves out, but researchers showed that a person would need to have the same strength to pull themselves out as they would need to lift a medium-sized automobile. 

So unless you are from Krypton, chances are, you won’t be able to do it alone. Similarly, a person drowning in their addictions or battling with depression and anxiety may believe that they can get out of the quicksand by themselves. The physics of quicksand teaches us otherwise. To get out, the person caught in the quicksand is going to need help. Someone on higher and more stable footing will have to help throw a rope or a long stick to help the person get out. Sometimes, it may take more than one person to help pull the person out. 

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To know how to get out of depression, 3 steps need to be taken, using this quicksand analogy:

1. The person in the quicksand has to accept that they are stuck and can’t get out by themselves

2. They need to ask for help

They need to ask for help from stable people who can help pull them out. It may be wiser to ask for help from someone on stable ground rather than for someone who is stuck in the quicksand right along with them. Asking for help from a higher power is another way to complete this step.



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3. The person who is stuck is going to have to reach out and hold on tight as they are pulled out of the quicksand

The quicksand will try to suck the person back down into the pit, so the person is going to have to hold on tight to the sticks or ropes handed to them to get out. In recovery, these rescuing aids work by using the 12-step program, doing the work assigned by therapists, reading recovery material, and doing daily activities to enhance their own emotional, spiritual, physical, and social stability.



Once a person is out of the quicksand, one of the keys to ongoing survival is to avoid falling back into the quicksand in the future. Rarely, if ever, will a person die in quicksand if they have someone willing to help them out of the hole. If you or someone you know is stuck in quicksand, know there is help. There is a way out.

If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text "HELLO" to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.

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Troy L. Love is a psychotherapist, educator, consultant, and keynote speaker and is currently the Lead facilitator of the LifeStar Network, a nationally recognized Addiction program that he currently runs at Yuma Counseling Services.