The absence of such support could mean a quick relapse to the old habits. Indeed, those patients who prefer to battle their addiction alone are much more likely to relapse more quickly than those with a strong social and family network to support them. In this, open communication among family members, the physician an the patient is of vital importance. Support is directly related to effective communication, especially among family members.
In terms of social support, the narrator appears to be a little out of his depth when it comes to helping Sonny. This becomes clear in the way in which the narrator is unable to openly approach the issue of the abuse with his brother. Indeed, it is Sonny who volunteers the information about his habit to his brother, who does not seem entirely willing to listen. The narrator has to almost force himself to listen to his brother, because he knows that this is required in terms of support and in terms of preventing relapse.
According to NIDA, some addicts can be clean for years before relapsing as a result of various factors, of which the most common culprit is stressful situations. The most tragic and devastating effect of drug use on society is when a prominent personality who has been an example of successful rehabilitation relapses. An example of such a person is British sports personality and youth worker David Lacey. Lacey was an example of success when beating his heroin addiction and becoming involved in helping others. According to a recent article by Tom Mullen, however, he was arrested for shoplifting to feed his returning habit.
In terms of its effects upon society, those who are addicted to drugs, such as Lacey, subordinate everything else to their needs. They alienate their family and friends, and become involved in illegal activities such as theft and other forms of violence. This has devastating effects upon the economy as well as upon the morale of society as a whole. Lacey's recurring problem has the potential to adversely affect many drug addiction sufferers who looked to him as a role model in terms of the possibility of success in overcoming the habit.
This principle can also be applied to Sonny. He is obviously a good musician who has made a success of his career with his band. The drug habit and his very public arrest however had devastating effects not only upon his immediate family in the form of the narrator, but also upon a society that enjoys and looks to his music for inspiration. And indeed, his music plays an important role in his healing process.
The end of the story is a scene of triumph in the face of human weakness and despair. Sonny's initial attempts to work with his band are weak, but are strongly supported by his friends. These friendships represent the social support that the addict needs to overcome the habit. The narrator is struck by the easy relationship between his brother and his fellow musicians. The music represents their relationships and the healing process effected by these relationships.
Initially, as mentioned, Sonny's attempts at manipulating his music are weak and uncertain. With the support of his fellow band members, however, he soon regains his confidence and the story ends in a triumph of sound. Sonny plays his blues and does so successfully. He has regained his ability to communicate with his music and without drugs. He has regained his connection with his art. For Sonny, music represents everything he needs in terms of support to overcome his drug habit. This is somewhat ironic, as it is his anxiety about his art that drove him to the habit in the first place. In general, it is often the same elements that caused the addiction to the first place that can also lead to healing.
Aftandilians, Tania. "Stimulants and Society." The Mind. Fall 2008. Retrieved from http://escholarship.org/uc/items/1k13k7p1
Mullen, Tom. "Drugs drag im back; He beat heroin -- until now." Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England). 1 Dec. 2009. Retrieved from FindArticles.com: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_6783/is_2009_Dec_1/ai_n42476603/
Nida. "Diagnosis and Treatmnet of Drug Abuse in Family Practice." 2009. Retrieved from http://www.nida.nih.gov/Diagnosis-Treatment/Diagnosis6.html