Thinking of departed friends, and the reality of addiction

Yesterday I logged in to Facebook around lunch time, only to find many RIP posts on a friend’s wall, a girl and young mother I knew from rehab back in 2010. The previous month, the same thing happened, for a guy I knew from the same rehab. Likewise, a guy I knew from there committed suicide on December 23 (2014 I think). And before that, two days after I checked out of that rehab in March 2010, another guy, who had lost his license to practice medicine due to his morphine (heroin) addiction, took his own life via an overdose.

All four of those people were not yet thirty years old. And those are only the ones I know about… I was off Facebook for a while between 2011 and 2014. Besides the first one, who I read about due to having mutual friends, the other three were my Facebook friends. Now their pages have become shrines to their memories. No doubt there were others from that same rehab who died, and many more who are still alive and using drugs.

The reality of addiction is this: Less than 5% of addicts who go to rehab will stay clean. You can, more or less, assume that any addict you know who is using drugs, is probably not going to recover. And if you know anyone with a heroin habit, it is reasonable to assume that they will die from that habit.

But it’s even worse than that. At least in this country (South Africa), the acceptable way to do recovery is not based on evidence. Nearly everybody here is religious, so when they go into recovery, when faced with programs that are not based on evidence, they don’t see those programs for what they are. Most people are conditioned, through religious indoctrination, to accept credulously whatever is placed before them by figures of authority, and believe me, when you check into a rehab after losing everything, whoever you find there qualify as authority figures.

All of those people I knew who died of their addictions, were sincere about their recoveries. None were thieves or anything like the stereotypical addicts that we see portrayed in movies and on television. They were all Christians, and all accepted the way to do recovery, as was presented to them. Like so many others, each time they failed, they thought they were wrong… “I wasn’t following the steps”. “I wasn’t truly in recovery.” “I wasn’t following the steps properly.” I know the drill, and it’s all bullshit. But most people here are religious… This is an unpopular opinion, but if you are religious, you probably are not a critical thinker, and you probably will not figure out that a “spiritual” program does not work.

Further, the way we learn to help addicts is based on misconceptions, stereotypes, and years of assumptions. Not evidence. I can’t change the system, and I can’t change the way we treat our loved ones who are addicts, but I can share information I have that indicates the way we treat them might be wrong.

So I’ll just leave this here…

 

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Recovery, Skepticism. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thinking of departed friends, and the reality of addiction

  1. bbnewsab says:

    You met these people in 2010. And now 5-6 years later they’re dead. Tell me, Jerome, how does the death rate incidence look like? How many die? And how soon do they normally die? Do you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      No idea unfortunately. But of all the heroin addicts I met, most are dead. I think the death rate when it comes to heroin especially, is grim. Apparently when an addict relapses, and I don’t know how true this is, they continue not with the quantity of drugs that they last used, but with the quantity that they would have used if they had never stopped at all. Actually that sounds like bullshit to me, but that’s what I was told.

      However, if someone uses a drug like heroin, they do lose tolerance while clean, and if they use as they did before, it’s probably enough for a fatal overdose. Very easy to get wrong, I suppose. I can’t be too sure of this because I never used that drug.

      But overall, I think death and addiction go hand in hand. I did know a lot of meth addicts who used for much longer than I did though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bbnewsab says:

    Very said to hear, indeed. (Except for your last sentence; maybe some drugs are not so dangerous/fatal after all?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      I think death as a direct effect of meth is rare, but indirect is another story. Coming down is the same as being depressed, and some commit suicide. Some get violent and meet violent ends. And the quality of life for an addict who continues to use gets worse all the time.

      Like

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