Two Longreads on Addiction that Will Change The Way You Think Of Addicts, whatever your perspective
I read two long articles recently, about addiction, that blew my mind open a little wider, and I wanted to share them here. They’re worth the time.
The first, The Like Cause of Addiction has been discovered, and it is not what you think, ran on the Huffington Post at the end of January, and you might have come across it on your facebook feed, or seen Cindy Filipenko’s mention of it in her column (that we reproduced here.)
There’s so much worthy stuff in the article that I don’t want to just pull out a highlight, but in a nutshell, the big take-away is this:
Human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. We should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.
So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.
The second is an old piece by NY Times journalist (and one of my favourite writers and media commentators), David Carr. Carr died last week, and many worthwhile and important things were written about him. But a good way to remember a writer is to give them the last say. This 8061 words/32 minutes piece, Me and My Girls, ran in the Times, and is gripping storytelling, as Carr turned his investigative reporting talents on himself, and excavated the truth about a period of his life that he was too blasted with drugs to remember accurately. His personal low point is gut-churning, and his honesty is searing.
To be an addict is to be something of a cognitive acrobat. You spread versions of yourself around, giving each person the truth he or she needs — you need, actually — to keep them at a remove. Let’s stipulate that I do not have a good memory, having recklessly sautéed my brain in fistfuls of pharmaceutical spices. Beyond impairment, there may be no more unreliable narrator than an addict. Recovered or not, I am someone who used my mouth to constantly create one more opportunity to get high.
Here is what I deserved: hepatitis C, federal prison time, H.I.V., a cold park bench, an early, addled death.
Here is what I got: the smart, pretty wife, the three lovely children, the job that impresses.