Cracked: Life on the Edge in a Rehab Clinic,
by Dr. Drew Pinsky
Even today, addiction treatment is a topic commonly discussed in hushed tones. Unfair or not, being an addicted person carries a significant stigma in modern society. Alcoholism and other addictions are not considered appropriate for ‘polite’ company.
How then does someone come to understand addiction? I know of two ways…live the life on an addict or live and work among addicts.
Dr. Pinsky built his knowledge of addiction by spending his working days with the addicted. Combining this down-and-dirty contact with a medical background, he emerged as a person who discusses addiction in a way that demonstrates a true understanding of how the addicted brain works.
Do You ‘Get IT’?
Pinsky makes the interesting observation that Alcoholism is unique in that it is the only disease which requires convincing the sufferer that they actually have a disease.
We will probably never know the exact numbers, but very few addicts ever recover from their disease. A small percentage of our population are pre-disposed to become addicts. Of those who become addicts (given the correct set of circumstances), a small percentage seek addiction treatment. And, sadly, only a small percentage of those who seek help ever enjoy significant sobriety.
I don’t know why some people “get it” and some people don’t. “It” seems to be a magical formula made up of a perfect storm of circumstances, all of which must come together at just the right time.
Recovery requires asking for help then the right combination of…
We are making mistakes in how we deal with addicted persons!
We are allowing insurance companies to make personal medical decisions for very ill people based on statistics and actuarial tables. These companies put money ahead of people’s health…always a bad decision.
Like Dr. Pinsky, I have seen someone die because of a decision made by a representative of an insurance company who does not have to live with the fallout of his decision.
Our penal system is another opportunity for us to offer addiction treatment to individuals in dire need. Something like 80% of all prisoners in the U.S. were drunk or high during the commission of the crime that landed them in prison. Of those people 80% to 90% have addiction issues.
Maybe we should take a look at how we deal with the most seriously ill members of our society?
Addiction Treatment and Root Causes
One of the more eye-opening revelations I took away from Cracked was Dr. Pinsky’s focus on the underlying circumstances surrounding addiction. When meeting with a new patient, he always asked about their recent drug and alcohol use.
His next question was always about childhood trauma. An alarming number of alcoholics and addicts suffered some sort of abuse or other trauma early in life…often at the hands of an alcoholic or addict parent.
Note that he did not assign causality to the early trauma. Many abused people don’t necessarily become addicts. But trauma plus a pre-disposition for addiction is a clear theme in those who end up in Dr. Pinsky’s clinic seeking addiction treatment.
As I think about my interactions within the recovery community, I see this theme repeated over and over. Many recovering people dealt with trauma by drinking or drugging. Having that “addiction gene” created the train wreck that is an addicted life.
It’s a Process!
Sometimes progress is cathartic, coming from something huge like the death of a patient. More often, those changes come from seeing one unlikely patient improve just a little bit.Pinsky shares his human side with us through Cracked. Before he was a doctor he was a man…with all the associated flaws and vulnerabilities. Like the rest of us, he lives one day at a time…trying to improve his condition in tiny increments.
Whether you are trying to overcome an addiction or just working on improving the quality of your life, work is going to be involved. Magic bullets only exist in the movies. In the real world, progress only comes from hard work.