Public ignorance about “drunk/drugged up losers” is expensive and deadly


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/25/public-ignorance-about-drun.html


#2

I agree with this - this is a disease and treating it like a moral problem is doing ourselves no favors.

On the other hand, it presents like a moral problem, and it looks like one. It’s not surprising in the least that people treat it as such, especially when addicts start acting the way that they inevitably do.

My brother is an opiate addict and is on methadone; even on methadone he’s an intolerable loser; I don’t mean that in the sense that ‘oh it sure is unfortunate he is addicted to drugs’, but more ‘consistently makes poor decisions even in a world where his medicative needs are met, like having vicious emotional outbursts at my grandmother’s memorial’. I know that this is just another symptom of his disease, but it’s really, really hard to keep sight of that in the face of the behavior itself.

This isn’t news or anything; we’ve known for a while now that addiction is a disease, but most diseases don’t make people act in ways that feel like moral failings.


#3

Say what you will about big pharma (and you can say a lot), they haven’t exploited other chronic diseases to the degree or with the wide-ranging creativity that drug addiction has been exploited by conservative politicians and their business cronies over the last century.

Here is a short list of some common brain disorders. Which ones do you think it is reasonable to be ashamed of or killed for?

The shaming regarding addiction comes from two sources: first, unlike the other four, addiction can’t happen without the involvement of an external agent and second because degenerate addicts often acquire and use those substances by behaving like utter arseholes (lying, stealing, gaslighting, etc.)*. Neither of those things changes the fact that this is a brain disorder rooted in both nature and nurture and that it needs to be treated through a combination of physiological and psychological methods.

[* Il Douche in particular is in no position to criticise others for acting this way]


#4

It’s a tough one, the Cluster B disorders are behavioral/character disorders, and are not biological in origin - and there is a road of self-medication one sees in that set that can lead to an addiction. A person with a Cluster B disorder cannot own the impacts of their behavior on others, because they don’t see the boundaries between people, even when sober. As I’ve heard it most never make it earnestly past step 3, as they don’t understand that other people have wills independent of theirs, so the concept of a higher power is not available. As I have experienced it.

additcion and personality disorders have a lot of co-morbidity, but the latter leads to the former, and not vice-versa as far as I can tell.

to the author, I don’t know you as a human being and I mean no disrespect to your struggles. This is a well written piece and I hope some find it helpful.

The current administration has no interest in nuance - as nuance is sharing, and sharing is “bad”.


#5

I’m not super familiar with the psychology of addiction so I’ll take your word on the psychological aspects, but either way I agree with you. I think that we’re talking shades of grey and the current administration is still only interested in painting in red.


#6

I sure never wanted to be.


#7

Thank you for this thoughtful piece. My mother, who had a narcotic addiction after her accident, was not a “drunk/drugged up loser”. She was a beautiful human that felt increasingly alienated from those around her as they rejected her addicted behavior - including, regrettably, my teenage-self. With the opioid epidemic at the level that it is, it takes a real effort in being disconnected from fellow human beings to fail to see the lives that are involved in every one of these equations.


#8

a nit: $520 billion will buy you 25,000 F-16s; their fly-away cost is about $20MM; $520 billion will buy you 25 completely kitted out (planes and all) Gerald Ford class Aircraft carriers.


#9

If I get extra pissy next month, msg me, as my doctor wants to ween my off of pain pills for several weeks.

Why?

  1. Supposedly resets opioid receptors and makes them work better.

  2. DEA/Healthcare institutions want to see that they are trying to make sure I really need pain pills and not just abusing. I guess. That part wasn’t really clear to me. The new rules and guidelines.

So - yeah FML. I know what is going to happen.


#10

Look no further than Jeff Sessions to realize the national drug control policy is time traveling back to the 1980’s. This will be devastating for a criminal justice infrastructure that was just starting to undo the significant damage caused by the failed “tough on crime” attitude of the '80’s peddled by rich white men.


#11

If addiction is a disease (and I’m not saying it isn’t!), where is the foundation looking for its cure?

I dislike BOTH the shaming of addiction AND treating it like a disease that has no cure or treatment that can bring about remission. The “abstinence only” approach is paternalistic at best and judgmental at worst.


#12

Being suppressed by the pharma companies that have a vested interest in maintaining the current cycle of addiction?


#13

I believe there is a lot of research into it. I know there is both a chemical aspect of the substance, and a chemical aspect in our brains, as well as a psychological aspect.

For example, people who are overall happy and have their needs met are less likely to get addicted to substances that are addictive. Vice versa, substances or behaviors can become addictive because they fill a hole in that person, or triggers a release of dopamine, leading to things like gambling or gaming addiction.


#14

Thank you! I thought that seemed way too much, but with defense spending being what it is I couldn’t tell for sure.


#15

How about sticking to grumpy and leave “extra pissy” to the Orange Man?


#16

Where did you learn that piece of total nonsense?


#17

Thanks for not attributing this to the deeds of Moose and Squirrel. :wink:

This encapsulates half of family, including me. Inherited depressive/bipolar issues mixed with alcohol dependency has killed off/will likely kill off half of these again, while many issues I struggle with are a matter of coping without becoming addicted to substances, yet I still feel addiction to non-material things will doom me in the end.


#18

Roger That!


#19

Hell no. Jacking up the price of Narcan to the stratosphere. That way they can profit both from the disease and the treatment!!


#20

I’m sitting here right now thinking about how awesome it would be to have a bottle of Vicodin and nobody to get on my back. To feel that glorious sensation of cares and pain washing away in a tide of peace and tranquility.

To have the racing thoughts and emotional demons that bark and scream for attention fall silent again for a few blissful minutes, and feel the wave of ease flood over me again like God’s own mercy. God in heaven, what I wouldn’t give to have that feeling again – knowing down to my core that everything is fine, and at peace, and I can simply slip away from the world.

But I can’t, because I know where that road goes. It ends in darkness and tears, with the people I love in tortured heartache all around me.

This isn’t about Trump. It’s not about politics. It’s about our society, and our collective failure to understand that addiction like this is an illness as surely as cancer.

We’re learning what leads to cancer. What we haven’t done is understand what leads to addiction. The hurting father who lost his job, or was injured, and now finds a few minutes of glorious peace in his soul when a brother in law gives him a leftover oxy to help him out. The single mother, who is busting her ass to make ends meet and gets a prescription for her back injury – and suddenly feels the inner peace she’s been looking for in a pill.

I can’t speak for other forms of addiction, but I can say that opioid abuse by and large comes from pain – the most basic impulse of living beings. From flatworms to humans, our instinct is to avoid pain. When you can find a pill that not only takes away physical, but also emotional and spiritual pain? God in heaven, there’s nothing that can keep you away from it. When we can’t find that, we try other things. Heroin, alcohol, OTC cold pills. Hell, even massive doses of acetaminophen, looking for anything to take away the pain in our bodies, our minds, and our souls.

Presidents can’t change this, Governors can’t change this. Only each of us, acting on our own, can change it. Love one another, support one another. If someone in your life is struggling – in anything – reach out to them. Sometimes the difference between addiction or relapse is one phone call, one email, one human touch that lets us know that there are other routes to peace, and we need not go down the road that leads to destruction to stop the pain we so desperately want to escape.


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