Archive for alcohol addiction

Name a Substance More Harmful to Society Than Heroin or Crack?

Posted in Hurm with tags , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by Editors

Alcohol.

At least, so says a recent study by British experts, who evaluated “substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana” [and ranked] them based on how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole.”

Alcohol earned this dubious honor “because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them.” Nevertheless, researchers do not advocate a return to prohibition. Leslie King, one of the authors of the study, notes that “alcohol is too embedded in our culture” to outlaw. In other words, too many people are enjoying alcohol safely to warrant making it illegal, despite the overall cost to society.

However, marijuana, which tested much less harmful to society than either alcohol, heroin or cocaine, remains illegal. David Nutt, one of the lead researchers in the study, was fired for criticizing the government’s decision to increase penalties for possession of marijuana.

In Celebration of the Unsung Hero of 12-Step Recovery

Posted in humor with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by Tim Elhajj

Alcoholics Anonymous celebrated the 75th anniversary of its 12-Step recovery program earlier this summer with no mention of the true hero of 12-Step recovery. Despite the program’s requirement for anonymity, AAs two co-founders are fairly well-known: Bill Wilson, a dowdy stock broker from Manhattan, and Doctor Bob Smith, a surgeon from Akron, Ohio.

What’s not as well-known is that early on Bob relapsed, went on a tear. The next morning Bill asked Bob if he was ready to try again. Bleary eyed and shaking, the good doctor agreed to give it another go. But he had to be in the operating room that very morning, so Bill gave him two brown bottles of beer to steady his nerves.

And so the true anonymous hero of recovering people everywhere is that patient, whose name has been lost to time. He lay face down on the operating room table. Whoever you were, nameless patient, wherever you are, recovering people from all over the world ought to thank you. A toast—of sparkling cider perhaps?

As Dr. Bob was a proctologist, we all know whose ass was really on the line.

Anti-Drinking Campaign Leads to More Drinking

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Editors

So says this Advertising Age study.

It has long been assumed, of course, that guilt and shame were ideal ways of warning of the dangers associated with binge drinking and other harmful behaviors, because they are helpful in spotlighting the associated personal consequences. But this study found the opposite to be true: Viewers already feeling some level of guilt or shame instinctively resist messages that rely on those emotions, and in some cases are more likely to participate in the behavior they’re being warned about.

Why does this surprise anyone? Has anyone ever been shamed into anything productive? One of the reasons we launched Junk is to address just this sort of attitude.

On the Stigma of Alcoholism and Government Plots: Yesterday and Today

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , on March 6, 2010 by Editors

Today most people accept the idea that alcoholism is some sort of disease, or malady of the mind. But Deborah Blum’s Slate article—about a government plot to poison alcohol during prohibition—reminds us that public opinion hasn’t always been so easy-going.

You hear stories all the time about alcoholics drinking all sorts of crazy nonsense to get a buzz, but rarely do you hear stories about the government capitalizing on this sort of phenomena for the purposes of law enforcement.

Although mostly forgotten today, the “chemist’s war of Prohibition” remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was “our national experiment in extermination.”

Even in the early twentieth century, some people were aghast. Editorial debates raged back and forth in the newspapers. Here is a quote you (hopefully) won’t find in any twenty-first century newspaper:

“Must Uncle Sam guarantee safety first for souses?” asked Nebraska’s Omaha Bee.

Lest we start feeling all good about our modern-day government, it’s sobering to remember that a similar plan to poison Mexican marijuana fields with the herbicide Paraquat was attempted as recently as the 1970’s. As the Slate article mentions, amid public outcry, the plan was scrapped.

Yay, public outcry!

As a teen, I remember my pot connection—a man in his forties with a prosthetic leg—who liked to joke that the Paraquat in his stash gave you a little extra buzz. I remember feeling some mild concern over this joke, but not enough to hold onto my money. And, of course, in my twenties, knowing that someone had overdosed on a particular brand of heroin was a sure-fire way to guarantee a surge of interest, sellout crowds.

I haven’t used heroin in over twenty years, but I rarely talk about my experience with regular people. That kind of self-revelation can be too difficult to pull off, too much to deal with.

This past Christmas I watched Miracle on 34th Street with my adolescent daughter, who still believes in Santa. I had seen the movie many times before, but not recently. Early in the movie, Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn), the real Santa Claus, finds a drunken man playing man the part of Santa for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kringle becomes indignant, expressing his displeasure by striking the drunken Santa repeatedly about his head and shoulders with a cane.

My daughter grew panicky. “Daddy,” she cried, “what’s he doing to that man?”

I should have joked with her that it was an old-timer intervention, but I didn’t. I comforted her. She is a few generations removed from the people who thought an alcoholic best served by an ass kicking or lethal dose of posion—she is part of the next generation.

Yay, next generation!

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