Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Finding a Higher Power won't kill you. Addiction will.

Somehow, I ran across this comedian with a special on Showtime. This morning the Direct TV guy was here at like, 8:00 so I was forced to get up extra early and therefore, extra cranky. Anyway, this is the channel that was on when I settled into my recliner an I am not inclined to move to find the remote.

This dude, Doug Stanhope, got my attention when he started talking about another comedian, Mitch Hedburg - a brilliantly funny individual who unfortunately died of a heroin overdose. According to Doug, Mitch loved drugs more than he loved life. I don't know if this is actually true or not but if I were Mitch looking down from above on this guy I don't know if I would be too happy about what he's saying.

Doug Stanhope also hates Dr. Drew Pinsky and spent quite a bit of time tearing him apart personally and professionally. Doug also hates AA, Rehab, and anything else associated with sobriety. He claims that because his mother was in AA he grew up with it and therefore knows all about it. He played the "Higher power/God" card and that is when I got irritated. Because every addict I have met always uses that excuse and it bugs the crap out of me. Did I mention he was sucking down beers like water throughout his show?

If I had a dollar for every time an addict has told me they don't like AA or it doesn't work for them because they dislike the focus on a higher power I would be rolling in it. It is the the biggest crock of bull I have ever heard. AA does not care what you believe, it's purpose for using a higher power methodology is simple - the need for human beings to invest in something bigger than themselves is what separates us from all the other mammals chillin' on Earth. The opportunity to even consider that there is a something bigger out there, something not fully understood, fits a uniquely human need for understanding. It forces the ego to step aside and make room for something beyond the self. Something an addict needs to learn in order to stand a chance of surviving.

Addiction is an ego-centric mother effer. An addict has tunnel vision, when he (or she) is in the throes of addiction they are incapable of empathy for others. The addict does not seek understanding of what this illness is like for others to live through. He is too busy feeding his addiction to have the time, energy, or inclination to look around and see the wide swath of destruction left behind him. The addict is also so completely saturated by his own experiences, feelings, and beliefs that when confronted with the pain or upset of others he experiences it as a direct assault and will most likely lash out. Yell, scream, hit things, threaten to hurt or kill others or themselves, essentially have a tantrum.

It is important and possibly even helpful to remember that an addict may look like a fully grown adult but on the inside, they are more likely than not, extremely young. Maybe even toddler young in their emotional growth and development. Grown adults who are secure in themselves don't have tantrums. When you see someone completely regressing to the point of melt down, you can rest assured, their inner child is running the show. The adult has left the building and the one left in charge considers Popsicles a food group. Hence, extreme reactions and defensiveness.

In a nutshell, you are not dealing with a functioning adult. You are dealing with a toddler who's had his binky taken away and he will do anything to get it back.

When a comedian like this Doug fellow mocks treatment and rehab centers, and throws hate onto Dr. Drew Pinsky, he undermines the already shaky safety net for addiction. Rehab and detox centers exist for one reason. That reason is simple - to save lives. Because you don't need me to tell you addiction kills. You can probably name 3 celebrities who have died as a result of addiction they couldn't defeat. Off the top of my head? Whitney Houston, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, Mike Star, Mitch Hedburg, Chris Farley, need I go on?

Do I agree with AA 100% on everything they say and do? No. I don't actually. But I do agree with the importance and efficacy of finding a higher power. Any higher power will do, there doesn't need to be a fancy one with gold leafed bibles or anything. A higher power can be the universe, karma, dogma, yoga, exercise, food, charity, philanthropy, etc. Maybe AA needs to do a better job of explaining the notion of a higher power. I'm not sure. But I do know, it is the the most common complaint I have heard regarding the program and the most common reason for people to stop attending meetings. Of course, in many cases, addicts are looking for an excuse to stop attending and will latch onto anything. So...there's that.

At any rate, this Doug fellow irritated the crap out of me. How destructive, how disrespectful, how selfish can a person be? Comedians are supposed to push our boundaries and get us to think about things from a different standpoint. By hating on Dr. Drew, AA, and sobriety in general he undermines the tremendously hard and life-saving work done not only by the professionals but by the addicts themselves. I guarantee there were people at that show in the program, working on themselves, trying to stay sober (and alive). Where is the upside of mocking them? Why would you kick someone when they're fighting for their life the best way they know how?

Dear Doug Stanhope,
Stop pointing your hurt, rage, disappointment, and fear at the treatment. Want things to change? Build your own methodology, create your own program to save people from the clutches of addiction. Stop complaining and do something about it if you don't like it. 
Grow up.
Angry Shrink

PS - that's Mrs. Angry Shrink to you.


  1. Wow Erin,
    that was your best. That was most insightful and heartfelt. I can feel you have had so much experience in the field and yes,the frustration to just make it all go away for someone is palpable. Great job.

  2. Thank you! That is definitely a "hot button" issue for me. Venting here helps a lot though!