Monday, May 25, 2015


I realize that on Memorial Day we are supposed to honor our war dead, march in parades and wave the flag. Politicians in particular like to do this,  but a lot of the rest of us are equally culpable. We have hot dogs, too, and watch the President lay wreaths on the "unknowns". I would imagine they are unknown because, as a nation, we are too goddamned cheap for DNA tests.
Let's take a moment, as we engage in our patriotic hoo-hah, to remember that conditions in most Veterans Hospitals are terrible, most Veterans benefits are all but decimated, mental health benefits for Veterans are either scarce to the point of non-existence or buried under so many layers of red tape that one has to wonder if it isn't intentional.
And we may also want to take a moment to consider that the reason for this national disgrace is the guy up there waving the flag the most vigorously.
It's easy to see who really supports the military,  it's the one whose voting record shows it. Don't bother looking  to see who waves the flag.
Look for the one to give a damn.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

I like to point out on this cloyingly sentimental day of days, that my mother despised Mothers Day. 
Hated it with a passion.
The cards, the cakes, the grave blankets all came in for a dose of scorn, but the worst derision was reserved for adult children.
"They drag these poor old souls out to the most crowded restaurants on the busiest day of the year to get cold food and lousy service, mostly because they feel guilty for treating them like crap the rest of the year."
You tell 'em, ma.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


This may surprise anyone  familiar with my socialist tendencies, but I like self-interest.
Enlightened self-interest, that is.
I wrote the other day that somewhere in the vicinity of 31 million Americans identify as being in recovery from addictions. If you look at the popular vote in the last presidential election, you'll see that the winning candidate received about 4 million more votes  than the loser. And as usual,  the total vote was  only a little more than a third of the total of eligible voters.
But that's beside the point, which is this.
There is an enormous amount of political power available right now, if recovering people are willing to grasp it.
Think of the possibilities. 
Every serious presidential candidate having to take a position on issues that involve recovering people.
Issues like availability of treatment, sentencing inequality, police brutality targeting addicts, discrimination and social prejudice. The list goes on and on.
In 2008 recovery meant rebuilding the country during a time of economic disaster.
In 2015, Recovery could be the banner under which recovering individuals join together in a spirit of enlightened self-interest.
It's time.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Addict To Addict Prejudices

I had a friend ran methadone clinics for years. She used to say that her clients were the "lepers of the Recovery Movement." At the time I thought she was being a little dramatic, but now, I'm not so sure.
Of all the things I write or speak about related to addiction and recovery, the use of medications as recovery aids is the most controversial. No contest.
Despite reams of research and thousands of case histories to the contrary, the responses I get to the most mild of posts about Suboxone or methadone or any of the other meds currently in use, are that these are clearly bad medicines.
They kill addicts, protract withdrawal,  cheat people of the opportunity for "real" recovery, and inevitably lead to relapse.
Ironically, most of these responders identify themselves as recovering addicts.
Yeah, that was a tough one to swallow.
Common sense would suggest that someone who had managed to put their addiction behind them would be the most open to the experiences of others.
Not so.
Users of Suboxone are welcome to attend 12 Step meetings, but not to share, lest someone get the "wrong" idea about recovery. Of course you can keep your mouth shut about your meds and engage in a "don't ask, don't tell" closeted recovery. As if addiction wasn't demeaning enough, it's pretty rough when the place that proselytizes "the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using" treats you like a 2nd class, well, addict.
An estimated 31 million Americans identify as being in recovery from addictions, and the means by which they have recovered are many and varied. We need a much broader definition of recovery that encompasses and respects all.
Enough of this silly and divisive nonsense about who is and who is not in recovery.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

History repeats itself, and somehow we're shocked by it.

I posted on Facebook today that we would do well to remember the peaceful nebbishes of Occupy Wall Street, because the next group that shows up to protest is usually not so polite. At least that's what history tells us. Of course, we ignore that.
We ignore at our own peril, but ignore we do.
Why? Because we're stupid.
I choose that word carefully. Naive has a connotation of simplicity, ignorance cannot be helped.  But stupidity is different. We are willfully complicit in our own stupidity. We choose to be stupid. Stupidity is selfish,  vain and shortsighted.
We see what we choose to see, and turn our head to what we do not.
Occupy Wall Street was protesting the growing disparity, in this country,  between the rich and the rest of us. It protested the obvious unfairness between a CEO paying less taxes than his secretary. It protested the ongoing militarization of local police until they resembled an occupying army rather than cops on the the beat who knew every merchant by name.
How quaint. How '60s.
How fucking retro.
Who could take them seriously?
The oligarchy tolerated them for a while, then called out their bully boys and turned the fire hoses on them. They figured they would wash away like detritus on the pavement and come morning the streets would be pristine for the ruling class.
But now there's Baltimore.
And if we don't wise up, and begin to look at the issues that create a Baltimore, like racism, corruption, cop violence, poverty, plutocracy, we're going to experience a lot more.

A primal termite knocked on wood,
And tasted it, and found it good,
And that  is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.
                         ~Ogden Nash

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A recovering person walks into an Emergency Room...

...and what happens next ain't no joke.

Popular recovery wisdom suggests that you disclose to the physicians treating you that you have a history of chemical dependence or abuse. 
Sounds good.
But what happens next?
After decades of prescribing serious pain meds (the various 'codones and 'contins) the medical types are starting to wake up to the fact that people get hooked on them. And then what? Well, they show up looking for more where they got them--the Doc!

I am sure that no one needs me to explain the legitimate problem of the sick addict tying up a busy ER while looking for a medical fix. But what about the hapless soul who has worked hard to maintain recovery, only to be treated like the scammish conniving junkie they left behind years ago, just because they were honest enough to tell the truth about their history?

Fortunately, we are beginning to see some glimmers of common sense shining through the messy confusion in the way of ER protocols designed to accurately address the problem. It is possible to separate the med-seeker from the recovering individual in a dignified manner that allows both to get the treatments they need.

But let me be clear. These protocols, at this point, are a flashlight in a mine shaft.

The bigotry and ignorance couched in phrases like "once an addict, always an addict" are hard to eradicate. And the medical field is the same as any other in that respect.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Revival Maybe

So,  how come you stopped writing that great little blog, The Interventionist? Did you stop doing interventions? Go out of business? Dry up and have nothing to say?
What is this,  multiple choice? Okay, so I stopped writing for a while. What's the big deal?
You sound defensive.
Do not.
Do too.

That, or  some approximation, is what's been going on in my  head for the past year or so. It hasn't been resolved, but it is time to write myself out of a long dry spell. I started this blog with the intention of bringing addiction treatment into the 21st century.
I failed. Treatment remains as rooted in psychosocial superstition as ever.  Most rehabilitation centers are committed to methods consistently proven to be ineffective and dominated by finance rather than patient need.
It's time to begin looking at addiction and recovery in a new context.
A bigger context.