Thingish Things

Ca$hing in on Whitney

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Feb• 20•12

Wasn’t going to weigh in on Whitney Houston’s death, but this review of a ridiculous new book out on addiction got in the way of my plans.   The book, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, is the latest meme on “new” ways to deal with addiction — that is, alternatives to abstinence-based programs.

The news hook for the book review, of course, is Ms. Houston’s death from drug and alcohol addiction — there is no need to wait for the coroner’s report — and no doubt plenty of people will buy the book while the story remains in the news.  The irony is that books like this one, and there are libraries full of them, are exactly the type of reading that keeps addicts in businesses. As long as there is a softer landing than abstinence available for an addict, he will take it. And it will eventually kill him — or her.  Witness Whitney.

This author and reviewer describe with a straight face things like “spontaneous recovery” as a method of cure for, they claim, 5% of all addicts. (“Duhigg addresses spontaneous recovery — a phrase that should, by now, really be part of the lexicon,” the reviewer writes.)  Perhaps that’s true.  Perhaps one in twenty addicts does get sober spontaneously. What is undoubtedly true, though, is that 100% of active addicts reading about “spontaneous recovery” will cling to the notion for hope while chopping cocaine on a glass table or pouring their next Smirnoff on the rocks.

Two other passages in the book review that leap from the page:

” Lewis spent much of his life addicted, consecutively, to booze, pot, cocaine and opioids. He finally quit after many, many tries, writing the word “NO” on a piece of paper and pinning to his wall, telling himself that this was the end of his drug use. It worked; he’s 30 years clean…though he still drinks and doesn’t consider that a problem.” 

Reaction: Ha, ha, ha, ha!

“Along with many other leaders in the field, Lewis believes that the recovery model needs an overhaul, that addiction should be treated as manageable disease, akin to HIV, rather than a curable one.

“There’s a saying: ‘Relapse is part of recovery,’ ” he says. “It’s really true. Nobody quits on the first try.” (Recent breakthroughs in the study of willpower, which is now understood to be a finite resource that the brain depletes and regenerates, are also cited by advocates of harm reduction.)”

Reaction: Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Brittany Murphy, and so many others probably agreed.

(Couldn’t help including that spectacular National Anthem. Just because.)  

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