Friday, August 19, 2005

Can long-term addicts truly be rehabilitated?

Quite frankly, I don't think so. It's entirely unrealistic to think that long-term substance abusers/adicts can be rehabilitated. Anyone who makes a lifestyle out of alcohol, drugs, or other self-abusive behaviors is an addict, and many if not most addicts move on to something else once they have stopped using. People who know addicts know what I mean. Too often they can tell therapists, the court, the friends and family exactly what they want or need to hear.

Addicts should be judged on their actions, not their words.

Which brings me to the "inspiration" for my post: Courtney Love.

Tearful Courtney Love ordered into rehab facility

A judge ordered a tearful Courtney Love into an in-patient substance abuse facility on Friday after the troubled rock singer admitted to violating the terms of her probation by using drugs.

Love broke down in quiet sobs as Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rand Rubin warned that he was prepared to send her to jail because he felt she needed "to hit rock bottom" before she was ready to overcome her drug addiction.

But Rubin said the performer's lawyers persuaded him to give her one more chance to avoid incarceration by placing her immediately into a "chemical dependency center."

"I'm convinced that you need either a long-term (treatment) program or a long-term stay in the county jail," Rubin said.

Forgive me for my lack of pity for the addict/victim, but hasn't Courtney had enough chances?

Granted, Courtney Love can afford to pay for her own rehab. But what about those men and women who are given as many chances as she? Each chance an indication of prior failure, I might add. Is it right that the city, county or state government should pay for repeated incidences of willful failure to abide by sobriety?

I feel the same way about the meth addicts profiled in the 8th August 2005 Newsweek cover story America's Most Dangerous Drug. The human toll of this drug is clearly illustrated in this anecdote about a suburban Chicago mom:

Kimberly (Fields) tried drug rehab but failed, and she couldn't care for her children, according to divorce papers filed by her husband, who moved out last year. She was arrested three times for shoplifting—most recently, police say, for allegedly stealing over-the-counter cold pills containing pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient used in making meth. By the time cops came banging on her door with a search warrant on June 1, Kimberly, now 37, had turned her slice of suburbia into a meth lab, prosecutors allege, with the help of a man she'd met eight months earlier in an Indiana bar, Shawn Myers, 32.

Fields, the article goes on to mention, lived with her two young children in her home-turned-methlab, and lest I go off on a tangent about what sort of scumbag would expose their children to meth's known proclivity for spontaneous explosion, I'm going to focus on what I saw as the article's *largely ignored* revelation: the fact that Kimberly Fields and every other current or former meth addict profiled had already failed at rehab, many numerous times. Combine this with the unprecedented number of people requiring advanced life support and plastic surgery due to their careless handling of the drug during it's "cooking" process.

The print issue details how many areas are having trouble coping with the financial burden these accidents create, and venerable institutions like Vanderbilt University's Burn Center are finding themselves unable to collect from Medicaid the full cost of treating meth-related burn injuries. Lesser institutions are considering closing down their burn units, as they are going broke. What this means for a child burned in a house fire is clear: the "critical hour" (during which a person might, receiving treatment in 60 minutes, have a chance of surviving traumatic injury) becomes "hours". With the local burn unit closed down, that critically-burned child will likely die. All because habitual drug abusers choose to use, no matter the risks.

Is it time to start talking about whether or not we begin to say "No more?" I think so.

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