I’ve read a few articles concerning Phillip Hoffman who died of a heroin overdose. He reminded me of some of my relatives who struggled with their addictions. As I’ve gotten older my tolerance for understanding has increased markedly. It was difficult for me to understand alcoholism because it was my own fathers problem. He was essentially taken out of the equation of life through this addiction. I too saw alcoholics in the worst possible light and drug addicts no better. If nothing else, I can use my prior intolerance, which I believe typifies society. That is to say, anyone that has a drug or alcohol addiction is someone who is considered defective and deserving of scorn. Perhaps that’s too harsh, but our laws reflect this thinking.
Rather than figure out ways to assist the individual addict, we expect somehow they will manage on their own to seek and find help. Even if they find it, possession of an unlawful substance means you’re likely to end as a criminal and tossed aside in a prison where there’s even less hope for you.
When you think about it, the reality for most addicts are a life of hell and then death. Of course it also affects friends and family. I know this painful truth first hand. I examined my own life’s course at an early age and designed my own intervention, I enlisted in the Marines. Of course that was no guarantee of a release from habitual drinking, but it did serve it’s purpose. 13 weeks of boot camp were enough to get my head on straight and find an alternative. Other people can’t solve it so readily.
What are we going to do about addicts? Do we let this reminder of the personal tragedy which so many of us either have or find in close family or friends, slip away into another faceless statistic? Is it appropriate or sensible in the 21st century to continue to look at people with addictions as if we still live in the middle ages? Maybe we think we’ve advanced ourselves from witch trials and stockades, but in effect we are still public shaming people who need our help. Instead of finding new slogans to say no, or another cruel punishment, can we insist our legislators review how ineffective our present laws are and abolish the current methods of substance and addict control.
Believe me, the addiction is enough punishment. Let’s find another way.
- Addiction, Mental Health – A Society that fails both (DeBie Hive blog)
- Philip Seymour Hoffman is another victim of bad drug laws (Russell Brand – Guardian UK)
- Russell Brand: my life without drugs (Guardian UK)
- The Shape I’M In – The Band