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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Virtues and Vices

So nobody's perfect, right? We all have our little problems that we deal with in our own ways...I want to look at alcoholism and the rise of alcoholics anonymous in particular. Now obviously, it's a system that works for most who go through the program, but I want to think about why such systems work for certain things.

First, to look at alcoholism as a disease - buy or sell? Is it a cop-out to kind of think of it as an uncontrollable issue? Where's the self-control? Aren't we responsible for our own actions and drinking and/or getting drunk would fall under things that we can control? That being said, I can buy it because alcohol is one of those things that's kind of self-reciprocating. You drink, for whatever reason, and then perhaps you do something regrettable or depressing and all of a sudden, alcohol becomes a method of escapism, which creates more feelings in which to escape from. Once someone is in that cycle, I can understand, although not from personal experience, how that can come about and become a serious issue.

So now the question becomes how do we defeat this? My biggest problem is admitting something is a problem, but I think that might be a personal thing versus an actual legitimate argument. I think identifying something as a problem kind of gives it strength - you're strengthening it in your mind by admitting to yourself that it's stronger than you are, while it was you who created the problem. I think admitting that you've created a problem, or you've made a mistake, would be much more effective in defeating something like that. I could be way off course, never having competed with something like that prior, or maybe I'm just misunderstanding the process...both very likely, but that's how I see it. It just seems to me that, by saying - I'm the one in the wrong here, I need to fix it, you're not putting the ball in your own court and enabling yourself to taking the situation back into your own hands. I can see the same thing with quitting smoking, but again, I have no real life experience, so I don't know how much strength my thoughts can have. Any former smokers out there or current smokers who have tried to quit and failed?

Then there's the network of support - and I want to start first with the legally appointed help should one's alcoholism become an issue for the courts (drunk driving, drunk in public, etc...) These people are naturally there to help the alcoholic defeat their problem. This kind of treads into the argument of punishment versus rehabilitation, and I don't want to get into that in this post...maybe another day. Here's my immediate beef with the rehab system - regardless of any good intentions or meanings, anyone in this field of work will quickly become jaded. For instance, a good point Scrubs has pointed out to me (that's right, I take moral queues from a sitcom, what of it?) is that just because one person may be just faking illness just to score drugs, not everyone is. It's hard to prove pain tangibly, I can easily say I have a headache, wince my eyes in pain and why would you question me? Why would I say I have a headache if I don't? So when an alcoholic comes in and says that it was a one time thing, happened to get in trouble, won't happen again - where's the basis for believing them when odds are, you've heard that line from tons of people who really do have a serious problem? Who is telling the truth? How do you tell a nervous reaction to being in an unfamiliar situation from the tells of a liar? I think that rehab is the best system, helping people along, but the system itself is too rigid and the people running the show are clearly so jaded that it stacks the table against anyone trying to play by the rules. I'm not saying all criminals are innocent, but I think we're quickly losing the 'reasonable doubt' aspect of our criminal system because it's easier to lock them up then look a little deeper.

I think I've rambled on a bit much here and I obviously didn't touch on AA as much as I was planning, maybe tomorrow...but I forgot my coat and I have to go make sure no one stole it. Nathan out - ta.

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