Posts Tagged ‘alcoholic’

An Addict by Any Other Name, Please

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

  What’s in a name? Maybe, recovery.

"New" me, at 73.

Bob Gaydos

Addiction — to opioids, alcohol, heroin, other substances or behavior — is a medically recognized disease, something for which treatment is available and prescribed so that the person who suffers from it can be returned as a contributing member of society. That’s the official, appropriately concerned line put forth by government agencies, the medical community and those who work in the field.

    Unofficially, which is to say, to much of society including members of the aforementioned groups, a person with the disease of addiction is commonly referred to as an addict. A drunk. A junkie. A cokehead or crackhead. An alkie. A pothead. A pill-popper. He or she is often regarded as someone who is weak-willed, immoral, untrustworthy, rather than someone suffering from a disease. A liar. A loser. Someone not worth the time or effort — or money — to associate with, never mind help.

   One of the major obstacles to persons seeking treatment for addiction is the stigma attached to the disease. It has been framed seemingly forever as a moral issue, a crime issue. Rarely — only recently — has it been framed as a health issue. We have waged a war on drugs as we tried to cure cancer or diabetes.

    Words matter.

    Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania lbast year released a study with the key recommendation to stop using the words “addict,” “alcoholic” and “substance abuser.” The study found the words carry a strong negative bias. Basically, the researchers said, they label the person, not the disease. Study participants not only displayed a reluctance to associate with persons described with those words in fictional vignettes, the researchers said participants also displayed “implicit bias” to the terms themselves when given a word-association task. They were subconsciously reacting negatively to the words.bbb

     If just the words can stir negative bias in people, imagine what an actual person carrying the label “addict” can arouse.

     The Penn researchers said their study was consistent with previous research that found some doctors, even mental health professionals, less willing to help patients who were labeled “addicts” or “substance abusers.”

     The researchers did not discount the fact that conscious bias against persons with addiction — for example, how involved one would want to be with the person described — is often based on personal negative experiences with “alcoholics” or “addicts.”  Family members, friends, co-workers have experienced pain and suffering from their connection to persons with alcohol or substance use disorders and a resistance to not just “calling them what they are” may be understandable.

      But, the researchers said, over time, adopting what they call person-first language (referring to a person with a heroin addiction rather than a heroin addict) — especially by public officials and the media — could help reduce the negative bias and stigma that keeps people from seeking and getting help for their disease.

       In 2017, prior to this study, the Associated Press, which publishes a style guide used by most news organizations, adopted a new policy on reporting on addiction. It recommends that news organizations avoid terms such as “addict” and “alcoholic” in favor of person-first language — someone with an alcohol or substance use disorder or someone who was using opioids addictively, rather than a substance abuser or former addict. Someone in recovery, rather than someone who is “clean.” Shift the blame from the person to the disease.

     This doesn’t excuse or absolve the person who is addicted from any damage he or she may have done, and it may be considerable. But it does provide an identity beyond the addiction and makes the road to recovery more navigable.

     Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News adopted a policy similar to AP’s.

      The concept is simple: A person should not be defined solely by his or her disease. When mental health professionals stopped referring to patients as schizophrenics, society started referring to people with schizophrenia. Similarly, there are people with diabetes today who once were labeled diabetics. It is often argued that alcoholism or addiction are different from other diseases because the person chooses to use the substance. But experience tells us no one chooses to become addicted and the nature of the disease is being unable to stop — or at least feeling that stopping is not possible. Negative labels can’t help.

       Government agencies have begun using the new language, referring to persons with alcohol use or substance use disorders rather then alcoholics or addicts. Some who have managed to face their addiction and overcome it have abandoned the anonymity of 12-step programs and identify themselves publicly as persons in recovery. The opioid crisis has spawned a program called Hope Not Handcuffs, which steers the person who is addicted to treatment rather than incarceration.

       An exception to the change in language is recognized for those who are in 12-Step programs who identify themselves as alcoholics or addicts at their meetings. These are people who don’t see the terms as negatives, but rather as an honest admission of a fact in their lives. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous have been saying, “My name is xxxx, and I’m an alcoholic” at meetings for nearly 84 years. It’s tradition. There’s no stigma attached, but rather a common bond that holds out the hope there is something beyond being labeled a “drunken bum” or “hopeless addict.”

      The groups recommending the language change say this is not merely “political correctness,” as some have said. Lives are obviously still being ravaged by addiction. If something has to change in approaching the disease, there is a growing feeling that how we talk about it might be a good place to start.

Bob Gaydos is a freelance writer. rjgaydos@gmail.com

‘Daddy Is an Idiot, but We Love Him’

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Donald Trump and his happy family.

Donald Trump and his happy family.

“Daddy, to be honest, is an idiot. A lying SOB, too. A nasty drunk. As long as you praise him, he’s all smiles and charm. Disagree with him and he’s a bully, or worse. He likes to act like a big shot — ‘I’m the smartest guy at the office …,’ ‘the fastest runner …,’ ‘no one knows as much as me …’ ‘I really showed them …’ Yes, he’s somehow always late paying the bills, if he pays them at all, and he seems to owe a lot of people money. He’s not around much lately — busy I guess — but when he is he’s always telling us about how great it’s gonna be when we: a) get a bigger house; b) buy a new car; c) go on vacation; d) move away from this lousy neighborhood.

“We’re still waiting, but we know he’ll figure it out eventually because he’s Daddy and he said so. We love him.”

Welcome to another day in the life of a typical American family locked in the grip of massive dysfunction bordering on delusion. Actually, maybe they’ve already gone across the border.

Of course I’m talking about Trump. You know I’m talking about Trump. The only ones who don’t know I’m talking about Trump are members of the aforementioned family. The delusionals. They stuck with him before and they’re sticking with him now. He’s family. They’re stuck with each other. Hey, nobody’s perfect. “We gotta stick together or they’re gonna take away our jobs. Then our schools. Then our church. Then our kids. Then our guns. Then what’ll we do?”

“Don’t worry. Daddy will know.”

(But remember? Daddy’s an idiot.)

How do you survive in life when all your tools — morals, knowledge, social skills, sense of self, pride, compassion, ethics, economics, tolerance, honor, curiosity, courage, ambition, faith — have been conceived, nurtured and twisted in such a fashion that, although you know instinctively that up is not down, you agree with the head of the family anyway when he says otherwise and you defend him vigorously when others says he’s an idiot? To do otherwise, after all, is to admit your significant shortcomings in those areas and to invite the shame and ridicule you imagine you’ll receive for not recognizing reality. For not kicking Daddy out or leaving yourself.

That’s life with an abusive (often alcoholic) parent. Donald Trump’s America. The drug of choice in this case is applause, not alcohol, but the behavior is the same. Me, me, me. Predictably unpredictable. Trump’s diehard supporters are stuck with each other and with him — one, big, dysfunctional family, lies and betrayals notwithstanding. Indeed, to question Daddy is disloyal, to leave, a betrayal. And where would you go anyway? It is, after all, a scary world out there. Daddy said so. Many times.

Breaking away from any such family is no easy task. It’s who you are, after all, isn’t it? You and your brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles and … Heck, it’s like daddy told you — it’s your brand. “Us against the world.”

Breaking away from the family of Trump — acknowledging that he is a fraud, rejecting the brand — would take enormous courage. First of all, it would mean admitting you have been wrong all this time to have placed your trust in a man with no moral compass, no sense of duty, no trace of compassion for the less fortunate, no regard for the truth and a total lack of interest in anything that does not feed his ego. (Get him a beer!) To admit that, one would have to be a fool, right?

Secondly, it would mean learning an entirely new set of life skills and placing your trust in people who believe pretty much the opposite of everything Daddy has told you. Talk about scary. Besides, how can you be sure those people aren’t lying, too.

“Everybody lies. Don’t believe what the media say. They all lie to make money. Daddy knows. He used to be on TV. He was great. At least Daddy has the guts to stand up to the liars and fight to get what we deserve. Maybe he hasn’t gotten it yet, but at least he’s trying. He’ll come through for us eventually. He has to, doesn’t he?”

Of course, there are 12-Step programs for people who grow up in this kind of ill-functioning, mis-functioning, dysfunctioning household with an unpredictable, abusive, addictive parent at the head. But one has to first admit there’s a problem before those programs can help. Then, one has to be willing to change — to break the chains of denial and dependence on the parent and learn to live one’s own life. To be honest with oneself.

Rather than being the act of a fool, it takes a lot of courage to say, “Daddy’s an idiot and if I keep depending on him, excusing his behavior, I’m going to wind up an idiot, too. I have to face reality.” Sometimes, it take an intervention or a profound spiritual experience, a moment of clarity, for this to happen. Both have been known to work miracles and either one would be acceptable right now.

In the meantime, the key for the rest of the more-functional families in the neighborhood is to continue to recognize that the family down the block has an addictive idiot for a Daddy and that to try to tell them so is to invite insanity into your home.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Look! Marijuana, LSD, Booze and Sex

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Pat Robertson ... wants to legalize marijuana

By Bob Gaydos

As Mitt Romney “root canals his way to the Republican nomination,” in the words of Time’s Joe Klein, I find it refreshing to look at some off-beat news stories that have nothing (so far as I can tell) to do with politics:

 

“LSD may help alcoholics stay off booze”

My immediate reaction to this headline I spotted on the web was, “No kidding.” Then it was, “Are you kidding me?” Followed by, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

It seems a couple of PhD’s from Harvard and the Norwegian University of Science went through data from old research on whether LSD could be effective in combating alcoholism and published an article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology saying, in essence, maybe. They said alcoholics given regular treatments of LSD were less likely to drink than those not given the hallucinogen, but the results seemed to be good for only three months. They suggested exploring weekly or monthly LSD treatments to counter this.

The story on the study noted that the reported success may have to do with the fact that LSD changes perception, with some patients saying they “felt they were given a new lease on life” and resolving not to drink. That’s what traditional recovery programs work for without the use of drugs.

The two authors of the scientific article wrote, “It is puzzling why this treatment approach has been largely overlooked.”

Geez, I don’t know. I’m not a PhD or anything, but maybe it has to do with the fact that when alcoholics drink to avoid the troubles of this world, they don’t want to be transported to a make-believe universe in order to escape. Or maybe that some people don’t think being on a steady LSD trip is a suitable alternative to addiction.

But hey, if you’re hung up on using LSD because of all that bad press it got years ago, the authors say other psychedelics might also work. They suggested mescaline, for one. No one noted whether any of the data was from personal experience.

Pat Robertson says marijuana should be legalized

This story struck my fancy not so much for the message as the messenger. Pat Robertson? Really?

Really.

The 81-year-old religious broadcaster, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, evangelical host of “The 700 Club,” said on his TV show recently: “I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy. We’ve said, ‘Well, we’re conservatives, we’re tough on crime.’ That’s baloney.”

He also told The New York Times, “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?”

Robertson said he’s never used marijuana and won’t crusade for legalization, but thinks the nation’s “war on drugs” has been a huge failure, costing taxpayers billons of dollars.

There has not been any rush to follow Robertson from other conservative political or religious groups, but he does have a sizable, loyal following, so he could influence future discussion on legalization of pot

Personally, I think Robertson on many occasions has been loopy. He seems stone cold sober on this one.

 

$2 million bail set for ’Madam Mom’

Wow, a real juicy sex story right here in the Hudson Valley. Anna Gristina, 44, of Monroe, was charged with one — note than, one — count of prostitution for allegedly running a high-end call-girl business on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. This has weird written all over it.

Start with the fact that Manhattan prosecutors appear to have come after the mother of four because she allegedly bragged, while under secret surveillance, of having police and wealthy clients protecting her and subsequently refused to give those name to prosecutors. They filed the one charge against her and a judge set $2 million bail, apparently assuming she had millions squirreled away to help her flee, even though he assigned her a court-appointed lawyer because she is indigent.

It goes on. Her real lawyer, who handles what he and she say are legitimate business dealings, offered to put up his $2.5 million Manhattan condo for her bail, because he says she’s penniless. She also apparently rescues pigs, who roam her Monroe property.

Now, somewhere buried in all this, I assume, is evidence of someone being hurt by something she has done, but I’m not finding it. If she indeed is running a call-girl business, matching willing females with willing and wealthy clients, she would be an entrepreneur in Nevada. You know, state’s rights and all that. This is not a sex slave ring story. Yes, Uncle Sam might want his cut of the action and, I would assume, if her alleged business were legal in New York, Gristina would pay her taxes or face the penalty. It’s only tax evasion now, if true, because a crime is alleged. A victimless crime. And because the prosecutors didn’t get to parade some big shots before the cameras.

 

Keep your nose out of our business

One for our fans of foreign news. In Egypt, al Nour, a conservative Islamist political party, expelled its parliamentarian, Anwar el-Balkimy, because he’d had a nose job. Some party members saw this as a sinful act. And you thought running against Rick Santorum was tough.

* * *

Comments on any of these stories are welcome and encouraged.

 bob@zestoforange.com