“It helps you endure, and it makes whining the least appropriate response to suffering. Just on that level it’s very valuable.”
‘There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’
– Leonard Cohen

There’s a topic I’ve been circling for quite a while and I finally got an answer on how to approach it. Someone else wrote about it and I can link to her excellent article!! That way, for those inclined to shoot the messenger, I’ll have company on the firing line.

Within the medical model of addiction, the Master-degreed provider world and the burgeoning Recovery Movement is a facet that periodically shows itself; you could call it Dependence vs Independence.

We start with the idea that those of us with substance use disorders have been stigmatized, marginalized and discriminated against, which of course is true. It goes against society’s best interests to do this because of the benefits accrued when people enter and create sustained recovery. This is an important message we want to share.

The problem, that I have heard and witnessed, can be a certain zealousness around any sleights (imagined or real) toward those with problems. That because of this disease our behavior should not be “judged”. Personally, if I am not discriminated against, then I do not want special behavior- I want to be treated like everyone else.

I’m reminded of a long-ago lesson I learned as a regular in a dive in Boston. This place had 25 cent draft beers, well-whiskey shots and hot dogs. $2 and you had lunch, $4 you were rich! Another regular at the bar was a younger blind fellow. One day I realized this guy had stolen my cash I left on the bar whilst I repaired to the lavatory! How dare he! The bartender quickly abused me of my unconscious biases as he schooled me on this fellow’s regular practice of doing just such a thing; using his blindness to disarm and lift people’s cash.

I realized I had certain perceptions of disabilities that gave various ….shall we say saintly traits, to those disabled. That within this complex subject it’s actually ultimately insulting to do that as I am not really “seeing” this person but some idealized version. Which is about my needs not him. Just because he was blind did not mean he didn’t have every right to be a thief! Fascinating subject to explore at the time. What I would now lump under the co-dependence umbrella.

I feel all of us in recovery, the movement and interested allies, should go the other way. Not absolutely everything, every behavior is due to the disease of addiction. To state otherwise is to move toward self-pity, that most deadly of emotions, while bordering on arrogance.  As we move away from dependence toward independence we want to develop congruence in all our language. Therefore, we should talk about, joke about, shout about YES we do engage in bad behavior! That breaks/discharges the energy of the past. It feels too precious on our part to have hair-triggers toward this when in fact we are, at times, scandalous in our actions.

So I’m linking to a serious post on this from a fellow blogger, Dr. Jana Burson, who weighs in from the front lines as an NC Addictionologist with a current practice in medication-assisted treatment and she discussed this very topic here. Take a look.

Her blog states: “I am a physician, board-certified in Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine. This blog was created to help people better understand the medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction using either buprenorphine (Suboxone) or methadone. I will be writing about different aspects of this topic, as well as the treatment of addiction in general. Hopefully, I will get a few questions, too.”

The essay-‘Those of Us Who Lie’- discusses just that, clients “lying”, people lying, everybody lies at one time or another. It covers numerous facets of this tricky area.

The recovery available (and due) everyone is not lessened because of bad behavior. That lops over into our whole legal/prison mess. Everyone deserves some shot at redemption. Not some religious dogma, just the concept of another chance at life and a better way. Pain transforming us toward a new life of fulfillment, true pleasure and joy. That is greatly aided by all of us holding a vision of them thriving in full recovery. The pathway there is not aided by avoiding the topic of bad behavior but as with most things embracing it.

There are multiple comedians, in recovery, some disabled, that do an excellent job of using humor to shed light upon the various facets of this topic.

On your way out, I want to leave you with this really thought-provoking podcast from Ask Science Mike, recorded in Chapel Hill.

Hosted by Mike McHargue, Ask Science Mike is a weekly podcast covering questions about science, faith, and life.

Among other topics he touches on; left/right brain, kids, education and why arts are essential; whites and racism; think global, act local and data driving decisions.