Viewing posts from June, 2004
For those addicts genuinely seeking a resolution to their struggle, I’ll tell you the great secret up front: find something else to be addicted to, something healthier. That’s all. Addiction is not a light switch, on or off; it’s a way of being in the world, a part of who you are, a kind of hunger that expresses itself in many ways. What you’ve found are all the ways in which this trait sidelines your life. But that’s just its shadow. Find the other side of it. Successfully recovered addicts find new obsessions: spirituality or exercise or meditation or kayaking or whatever. Find something to love that gives you the same hit as the juice. Eventually it will give you a better hit. You’ll find it, if only you give yourself the chance.
Ray Charles — acclaimed as one of the twentieth century’s foundational musicians — died this week. Some of the retrospective news items, on TV and on the web, noted his 20-year battle with heroin addiction. Many people were unaware of this, and were surprised that such a hard core addiction was part of the life of a man who appeared to be so humane, humorous, and self-aware.
The rates of success for contemporary addictions treatment are miserable. The vast majority of people who undergo it, whether at a treatment center or in the so-called recovery movement — AA, NA and their companion abbreviations — fail to improve (though if they keep trying, their chances of success increase). Those who enroll in a program do about as well as those who do not. Sometimes they do better. In any given attempt, most addicts who try to improve their situation do not achieve success. And within any given year, something like fifty thousand people in North America die of drug and alcohol use. This number does not include deaths from nicotine addiction, which claims the lives of half of all smokers, or from obesity (addiction to unhealthy eating), which will soon be the leading cause of preventable death in North America.