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…