Happy New Year, one and all. As it the morning after a holiday replete with more alcohol than The Sigma Chi house during Hell Week, I thought I’d take a minute to rant a bit on something that’s been bouncing around in my brain like a toddler on Red Bull.
Many of you know that I am an alcoholic. And, in case you didn’t: “Hi, my name is Jen…” As an alcoholic, I have learned that the only way to not wind up insane, incarcerated, or dead is to schlep my punk ass to an A.A. meeting at least once a day, read my Big Book, and have some serious tete-a-tetes with the Big Man Upstairs. And, really. . .how cool is that? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was eight years old and wrote an essay stating: “When I grow up I want to be a weepy drunk who plows her car into a tree and winds up in a jail cell with a 300 pound woman who smells like flop sweat and
PBR” but as far as diseases go, at least I
got slapped with one that comes with jalepeno poppers and umbrella drinks. Sorry. . .gallows humor. In all seriousness, though, how cool is it to
have a disease in common with doctors, lawyers, Academy Award winning actors,
brilliant artists, and some of the raddest mofos in the Portland
metro area. And the treatment for this
disease? It’s totally FREE! I get to hang out with these crazy bastards,
eat candy, and talk about myself. I’m
telling you, A.A. is the bomb. For
realz. But while I loves me some A.A.
like a fat kid loves cake, I am increasingly made aware of the appalling lack
of understanding surrounding addiction and recovery in this country today.
While I think The United States of America is the coolest kid on the block, and I cry like a little bitch whenever I hear The Star Spangled Banner, it pisses me right off every time I hear debates and political filibustering about spending tax dollars to place restrictions on the sale of drugs and alcohol. This may seem counterintuitive to what I’ve just said, but bear with me. . . History has shown that banning illegal substances/activities does nothing to curtail their production and consumption. While prostitution is still technically illegal in
you can get a knob-shine from the gal of your choice on East Burnside. And do you know when Alcoholics Anonymous was
founded? Two years after Prohibition was
repealed; which should indicate to you the efficacy of attempting to banbathtub
gin. If I felt like really letting my
Republican flag fly I could draw a parallel to the increasing fervor regarding
the restriction of firearms in this country, but I digress.
The point is that the
States government could declare a militant
fatwa on mind-altering substances and Americans will revert to licking toads
and huffing Scotch Guard to get high. It’s
human nature to want to feel less. . .human.
Maybe, instead of spending billions of dollars on federal prohibition statutes, and propping up Nancy Reagan’s
knit-clad corpse to remind us to “Just Say No”, we could spend some of those
government dollars to subsidize treatment facilities for those recovering from
addiction. . .or open some sober living facilities across this country that
will help men and women in recovery learn to acclimate to life in the “real”
world, rather than kicking them out of a detox facility after 28 days and
leaving them blinking in the sunlight as fucked up and confused as a groupie
when Lollapalooza leaves town.
Addicts and alcoholics need treatment. They need recovery. They need a chance to feel like human beings rather than second-class citizens, because despite the stigma surrounding addiction, it is, in fact, a neurological condition. You wouldn’t fire someone for having epilepsy, would you?*
*Well. . .you might. If you were an asshole. But, I like to think that most people aren’t. Life is just more pleasant that way.
You wouldn’t ostracize someone with clinical depression. And I’m betting you wouldn’t lock someone in jail for having post traumatic stress disorder. And yet, according to statistics, of the 2.3 million prisoners in our nations prison system, 1.5 million meet the criteria for drug and alcohol dependency.
One-point-five-freaking-million. Take a minute to ponder that shit.
Have you pondered. Good. OK, moving on then. . .
Perhaps. . .just perhaps. . .our tax dollars would be better spent providing rehabilitation services rather than paying to have someone sit on a concrete bench in an orange jumpsuit watching Adam Sandler movies. Here’s a thought: Why do we find it necessary to punish someone who has already done a blue-ribbon job of punishing themselves? None of us entered A.A. or rehab on a winning streak, folks. We don’t drink and use because we have a drug and/or alcohol problem; we drink and use because we have a
LIFE problem. So, why not focus more on venturing down the
rabbit hole and figuring out WHY we ended up at T.J. McChucklenuts every night
sucking on mai tais, rather than slapping our hands like recalcitrant children?
What sort of pious, self-righteous, society have we become when we spend our time wringing our hands in righteous indignation over these despicable addicts and alcoholics while we pop another Xanax and surf some internet porn. Addiction is addiction, y’all. Legal or not, we all have our shit. So why don’t we all start owning our own, rather than throwing other people’s in their faces like a spastic orangutan.
I say, free the courts and jails of sick men and broken women who feel the need to use chemicals just to feel human. Rather than banning alcohol, let’s tax the ever-loving shit out of it and use that money to provide cognitive therapy, and rehabilitation for people devastated by its use. But, most importantly, let’s stop deluding ourselves into believing that treating someone like shit who already doesn’t believe they deserve to live isn’t doing anybody any fat, freaking favors.
Ten percent of the population of the
is an alcoholic and/or drug addict. Ten percent.
She’s making your latte at Starbucks.
He’s passing you the offering plate at church. She’s teaching your sons and daughters to
read. He’s falling asleep next to you at
night. She’s sitting at her computer,
reaching out to you and begging that if you make but one New Year’s Resolution
this year, that it be this one: Show
compassion. United States of America
Happy New Year to you all. I wish you peace, love, and joy in 2015.