There’s nothing like a juicy debate of weighty opinions to spice things up in the blogosphere. There’s no doubt, when anonymity and personal experience get thrown in the mix, sparks ignite faster than you can say “What a load of crap!”
That’s exactly what happened after I recently posted Thanks Andrew, a personal homage to [HPA Creator/Cofounder/Executive Director] Andrew Slack’s article about his feelings of GLEE actor Cory Monteith’s recent overdose.
Thanks to one commenter, the embers of attitude quickly flew.
The world is no stranger to sparks. Some of us even thrive on it. As if somehow the voracity of our thirst for drama is equated to the very reason we’ve created it. Ever seen a drag queen go all Diva on someone’s ass, only to bitch about why the whole thing is going down in the first place? It’s hard to walk away. And at the end of the day, from clear heels to Air Jordons, what we really want is just to be heard.
Which brings me to this follow-up post.
As much as I disagree with some comments in Thanks Andrew, I gotta say, I’m grateful. There are so many vacant seats to the addiction education show, that any amount of light shed on the marquee is a welcomed step inside this heart-wrenching real-time documentary that’s taking a staggering amount of lives (even outnumbering US automobile deaths, claiming a life every 14 minutes).
You see, I’m an addict. I’m not proud. I’m not ashamed. I just am.
And as I explain in a post I wrote after climbing my way back from one of many re-lapses in Addiction: simple and complicated, I wish life were logical and I could explain it in a way so many people don’t seem to get. And who could blame them, if they believe like one commenter thinks (and says):
“Just don’t do it. If you’re that fucking dumb…”
This person went on to insult and barrage (by way of name-calling and throwing words back in another commenter’s face) readers with such ugly intent, it’d cause the even the biggest drama queens to gasp.
But I respect their opinion. I welcome it. No paradigm shift was ever made with voices of reason. There’s always a street-fight.
But there’s a way to come to blows without swinging insults and catching your knuckles under the belt. There doesn’t need to be bloodshed for minds to open and opinions to shift. Experience will sometimes do the trick – which is tragic, when speaking of addiction (who wants to learn about about a disease as the result of a loved one’s overdose?).
There’s also education.
Not buying it from some 80s coke whore ex-stripper chick (sorry mom, I’ll stop calling myself that now)? Trust me, I get it – so I gathered these explanations from peeps far better equipped to speak on why such comments as “Just don’t do drugs – Stupid!” illustrates the vast ignorance and hubris of so many, where addiction is concerned.
“I guess it’s [the biggest misconception of addiction] this very deeply ingrained idea that addicts are choosing to get high and so they are reprehensible and they’re weak. But what we know now is that addicts aren’t immoral, they aren’t weak; they’re ill. They have a disease.”
From Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow:
“Addiction is all about the dopamine. The pleasure, pain and devilish problem of control are simply the detritus left by waves of this little molecule surging and retreating deep in the brain.”
“All addictive substances send dopamine levels surging in the small central zone of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which is thought to be the main reward center [located in the Limbic System]. Amphetamines induce cells to release it directly; cocaine blocks its reuptake; alcohol and narcotics like morphine, heroin and many prescription pain relievers suppress nerve cells that inhibit its release.”
“Researchers now postulate that addiction requires two things. First is a genetic vulnerability, whose variables may include the quantity of dopamine receptors in the brain: Too few receptors and taking the drug is not particularly memorable, too many and it is actually unpleasant. Second, repeated assaults to the spectrum of circuits regulated by dopamine, involving motivation, expectation, memory and learning, among many others, appear to fundamentally alter the brain’s workings.”
Outside of experience and education, how do we address the blanketed accusations of “weak” and “stupid” when it comes to people who are addicts?
Here’s the part where you tell me your thoughts in the comment section.
I’ll start the dialogue by sharing what my friend Kristen Johnston (Emmy-winning star of TV Land’s ‘the exes’ and author of the New York Times best-selling GUTS) emailed me in response to the heated commenter:
“The bottom line is, despite what you believe, whether you believe the 40 years of scientific evidence proving addiction IS a disease, or you believe that addiction is really just about weak-willed fools who aren’t able to face life–at the end of the day….isn’t life really just about how you handle yourself?If someone believes the earth is flat, that’s cool, too. But don’t you dare scream at me & speak in a derogatory manner just because I happen to believe the earth is round.”