It wouldn’t be fair to single out one tragedy and define an entire movement by it – so don’t get me wrong, that’s not what I’m trying to do here. But the fact is that I come into contact with people every day who’ve been rendered totally helpless and hopeless by the recovery culture. Certainly, everyone who undergoes an intervention and treatment on the A&E network’s popular television show Intervention doesn’t commit suicide, but this guy in the video below did, and maybe we should think about what he was taught in rehab. His case is the extreme example and outcome of what I see in people who’ve been involved in the recovery culture daily. Check the video of this recent local news report (I saved the video and put it up on my youtube account because someone already removed a clip of his Intervention episode, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the original of this news report video gets taken down too):
Notice what Dillon says at the end of the video:
I did more drugs when I got back from rehab, than I did before I went in, because, I wasn’t done using”
To Dillon’s parents: so did I, and so have countless people. The reason for this may be related to the fact that when you go to rehab, it gets pounded into your head that “you’re not done yet” or that “you haven’t had enough” or that “you haven’t hit rock bottom yet.” In some sense, even though he was in control of his actions, your son may have been a victim of beliefs that were taught to him by the very people who were supposed to be helping him. Personally, I was told relentlessly at my first rehab that I hadn’t had enough yet, wasn’t done yet, and that I’d be shooting up soon – and I conformed to that message, starting to use drugs intravenously within a week of leaving rehab!
The next part of Dillon’s statement which is instructive is this:
Shortly after that I realized that I had no power over my addiction whatsoever.
This too is a major message of the recovery culture – it’s their cornerstone – Powerlessness – Disease – etc. They never stop talking about it. They teach people that they will always be addicts, that they will always crave drugs for the rest of their lives, and that there is no escaping it, but only trudging through life resisting and coping with it one day at a time.
People use drugs and alcohol because they derive some pleasure from it – bottom line. This is a simple explanation, and provides an out for the person who feels they might need a change – explore your options and choose to find a life that makes you happier than excessive substance use. Instead of this though, when we send people to rehab we teach them that they must hit rock bottom, that they’re powerless, and that a disease is causing their behavior. All of this leaves them in a terrifyingly incomprehensible world. They learn to be helpless. They learn that they can’t change.
Suicide is something people choose because they believe it will be better than continuing living. They’re hopeless that life can get any better. Does anyone think that maybe when you teach someone that they can’t control their own behavior, yet their behavior is leading to constant miserable consequences, that maybe they might be behaving very logically when they subsequently decide to kill themselves?
Don’t get me wrong please. I’m not saying Dillon should’ve killed himself. I’m only saying that from his perspective, with the beliefs he’d learned, it made sense. In reality, it doesn’t make sense – because in reality, his addiction was not a disease, and he didn’t need to be stuck with it for the rest of his life. He could’ve learned a view of addiction that made sense and was helpful, if he’d been exposed to some other ideas.
I constantly receive angry emails from people incredulously asking why I would bash the recovery culture, from now on, I’ll refer to this post as my reason. I want to help people avoid Dillon’s fate. I want them to know that they’re not doomed, and that they can solve their problems. Teaching people that they’re powerless, and convincing them that their behavior is caused by an imaginary disease does not help. It hurts.