No Bigotry in Addiction

I was in a conversation about the insanity of the disease of addiction which, of course, includes alcoholism. The conversation was with a group of friends who, like me, are in recovery. One fellow said, “Oh yeah. I remember driving drunk one time and crashing into all these trees.  I immediately realized I needed to cut back on my driving.” We all laughed because we all recognized how severely the disease of addiction mangles our thinking. The same holds true for Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen and the far too many like them, including me. When we are using we are tenaciously insistent that the responsibility for the problems and tragedies in our lives are the fault of anyone and anything other than us. Not true.

The reality of addiction guarantees that unless someone gets sober, in other words, gets well, their story never ends with the words, and they lived happily ever after.

Recent reports say Lindsay Lohan feels she is being picked on (Note to Lindsay: Don’t steal necklaces and when you are wrong, promptly admit it) and Charlie Sheen’s life continues to disintegrate.

The truth is there is no bigotry in addiction. Addiction doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether you’re rich and famous, poor, employed or unemployed, tall, short, fat, skinny; it doesn’t give a rat’s ass what your skin color is or what religion you are or what country you’re from. It has only one goal, to kill everyone it sinks its teeth into and, while it’s doing the killing, destroy and mangle every component of the person’s life.

Lohan’s enemy is not the system and Sheen’s enemy is not CBS; their enemy is addiction and as long as addiction – too often helped by its enabler-elves – can keep them blaming everyone but addiction, their stories along with stories of far too many like them will not end and they lived happily ever after.

Dear Lindsay Lohan – Sobriety First

In the life of an alcoholic-addict, there is  only one person who is responsible for drinking or using, the alcoholic-addict. Why? because they are sick. Not bad, but sick. How do I know this, separate and apart from the data that says this, because I am a recovering alcoholic-addict. A wonderful friend of mine who died last year used to say, “You’re not responsible for your addiction, you’re responsible for your recovery.” This is true for me and all others grappling with this deadly disease, including Lindsay Lohan. A fact her father, Michael Lohan, and her mother, Dina Lohan, clearly don’t get; more proof that addiction is a family disease.

Dina Lohan has complained that her daughter’s life is too much in the media spotlight; an accurate claim though a somewhat bizarre one coming from Dina Lohan because she’s voiced her too-much-media complaint on talk shows as well as to television and print reporters.

Michael Lohan’s judgment is equally off the beaten path. In response to the fact his daughter recently failed two drug tests, she testing positive for cocaine in one of them, he reportedly said, “…all I can say is ‘watch out’ to the person(s) who allowed this to happen in their presence and sold or gave her the cocaine or alcohol.”  Fine, Michael. But the fact of the matter is it was your daughter who chose to use the drugs.

The bottom line is Lindsay Lohan is a 24-year-old woman who is in a fight for her life. Addiction itself doesn’t give a damn whether she is an actress or famous or attractive or unattractive. Addiction has one goal and one goal only – to demolish everything and everyone in its path until it achieves its ultimate goal – kill.

Addiction is trying its level best to kill Lindsay Lohan just as it is trying its level best to kill every other addict-alcoholic. And until Ms. Lohan and those around her fully digest that her entire life needs to be about getting sober before it is about anything else, she doesn’t stand a chance.

Battling addiction is a tough but winnable fight, all the more so when those waging the fight realize that anything they put before sobriety will be lost, including life itself.

 

Special Favors Threaten Lindsay Lohan’s Life

If news reports that Lindsay Lohan is receiving special favors in jail are true her already at-risk life is even more at risk. I say if because if there is anything I am sure of, it is the penchant of some members of the media to close-dance with rumor rather than spend time in the world of reality. The latter being something someone facing the challenge of addiction must do if they want to stay alive –and free.

Anything that gives someone facing the disease of addiction the message that they do not have to deal with reality is, in short, life threatening.  Like cancer and other diseases, addiction doesn’t give a rat’s ass if the person it has hold of is famous. Addiction knows no bigotry. It simply destroys everything in its path.

One news report claiming Ms. Lohan is getting special visiting privileges says that whenever she leaves her cell everyone else is placed in lockdown. Another report says she has been given a special room with a TV, hospital bed, and a dresser for her clothes. If any of these reports are true, Ms. Lohan is being put in real danger. In order for an addict-alcoholic, like me for instance, to get well, they must fully experience the damage the addiction is inflicting on their life. To spare someone this experience is to empower the addiction and put the person at greater risk.

Ms. Lohan is not her fame, she is not her looks, she is not her addiction. She is a human being who, unless she fully experiences the damage be inflicted on her by addiction, is, in a word, doomed. 

For those who continue to use the story never ends with, they lived happily ever after.  For the most part the media doesn’t give a damn about Ms. Lohan.  In fact, you can be sure some members of the media would love it if she died from an overdose of some kind because oh my the papers they would sell, the ratings they’d get.

Ms. Lohan, like anyone facing the challenge of addiction, is in a fight for her life. If those who love her give a damn, they will allow her to fully experience jail, and not seek to create an abbreviated version of the experience. After she is released, she should go right into treatment, her father should get his self-serving ass off the talk show circuit, and those who love her should show their love by supporting all things sobriety.

Ms. Lohan deserves to get well. And she deserves  people around her who empower her, not the addiction.

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Addiction and Accountability

It is no more accurate or fair to villainize an addict or alcoholic for their symptoms than it is to villainize someone with the flu, multiple sclerosis, or brain injury for their symptoms. To do so is wrong, often heartless, and as absurd as deciding someone is a failure in life because they have a fever.

What the person with the addiction has to fully digest is this; they are accountable. Just like anyone else with an illness or medical condition, they are responsible for taking the steps necessary to get well. The kindest, though not at all the easiest thing for loved ones to do, is hold the addict or alcoholic accountable.

Lindsay Lohan’s situation, now being chewed on by the ratings-mean-more-to-us-than-human-life members of the media, is a case in point.  Danny Bonaduce, who, as a child starred in “The Partridge Family,” reportedly said the fear that comes with a stint in jail might be a healthy thing for Ms. Lohan – true – but added that “rehab does not help” – not true. Ms. Lohan’s father, who apparently has done anything but pay any real attention to his in-danger-of-dying daughter is romping around the talk show circuit. The point is, we all have people in our life who are so tangled in their own dysfunction that their influence on us, if we accept it, is anything but helpful. Surrounding dysfunctions of people and circumstance aside, the addict is the one responsible for getting well.

As an alcoholic I hit my “bottom” in 2001. I was arrested, fired from a job, and destroyed a five-year relationship. That the circumstances surrounding the arrest were linked to a set-up was what my mind chose to focus on. They set me up, the bastards. Case got thrown out of court didn’t it? All conveniently true. Had it not been true I would have lied and said it was true anyway.  Truth was something I aligned myself with only when it worked for me, or so I thought.

Anyway, in my first months in a 12-step program I was talking with a NYC Firefighter who had something along the lines of 20 years sobriety under his belt. I spun my tale of they-set-me-up woe to him. He listened patiently until I’d finished. “Okay,” he said. “I’m going to believe you. But here’s the real question, it’s a yes or no answer. Was there anything about Peter Kahrmann that contributed to these things happening in the first place? Yes or no?” I knew the answer and said it. “Yes.” Had I not been drinking, had I not been active, none of what befell me would have happened.

And so when Lindsay Lohan or anyone else facing addiction bemoans the circumstances they find themselves in, Ms. Lohan recently referring to her jail sentence as “inhuman and degrading treatment,” what they need to get, really get, is the simple but difficult to digest fact that had they not been using, they wouldn’t be in the pain they are in. Had Ms. Lohan stayed sober, she would not be going to jail.

The real inhuman and degrading treatment is inflicted by the addiction. The addiction, not the legal system or the drug rehab system, is the enemy.

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Thoughts on Lindsay Lohan

No matter how you hold Lindsay Lohan’s behavior up to the light, you are looking at someone in the merciless grip of addiction.  I am a recovering alcoholic so the struggle for sobriety is not foreign to me. Continued use usually ends in, as the saying goes, jails, institution or death.  The story for those who continue to use never ends with the words, and they lived happily ever after. As long as Ms Lohan or anyone is using, life is at risk.

This week Superior Court Judge Marsha N. Revel sentenced Ms. Lohan to 90 days in jail to be followed by a 90-day inpatient rehab program to commence within two days of her release. With all my heart I hope Ms. Lohan gets that she is battling with addiction, accepts its reality, and commits to getting sober, sobriety being far more important than any waiting screen role. Apparently this is lost on Chris Hanely, one of the producers of Inferno, a so-called biopic of Linda Lovelace with Ms. Lohan slated to play the part. Hanely is quoted in PEOPLE as calling the 90 and 90 sentence “A pretty brutal judgment.”  Ms. Lohan’s parents have complained that the sentence is too harsh.

Here’s the reality as I see it. Ms. Lohan has not hit her “bottom” yet, the “bottom” being that moment when it finally hits the person deep in their center that unless they get well, all is lost. Without hitting “bottom”, no one recovers. I am genuinely sorry for the suffering Ms. Lohan and the millions of others who are battling with addiction endure. It’s hell. I can only hope those around her and those around the countless others understand that you will lose anything and everything you put before your sobriety.

As a good friend of mine, Jimmy, once said: “You’re not responsible for your addiction, you’re responsible for your recovery.” And so it is for Ms. Lohan, me, and everyone else who faces the challenge of addiction.

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