Tuesday, October 23, 2007

2 Addiction Stories

One of the blessings/curses of working in the area of criminal defense is the stories you to be a part of. As a public defender I felt, and still occasionally do in private practice, like a part time lawyer and full time drug counselor. With that in mind, a couple client's stories came to mind that other day:

(1) She told me she used her child's photos to cut lines of meth, thinking it would persuade her to stop using it by giving her a reason to feel guilty. While this sounds sick, she was at least trying to quit. However, she was an addict, meaning she was, by definition, unable to quit by herself. So while she had the desire to stop, she lacked the essential tools and thus kept cutting lines whith her baby's picture until she eventually fond a way into inpatient treatment which finally matched her desire to her true needs, her wishes to the realities of methamphetamine addiction. Wanting to quit, and the self-flagellation she attempted- using a photo in the place of a razor blade- only made her more desperate, which led to more drugs, which led to more guilt, which led to more self-flagellation, which led to more depression and more drugs. Only when she found a way to break this cycle, did she put down the drug and the picture and face the real child and the real future. She behaved very insensitively, but was in reality very sensitive. She numbed herself and guilt couldn't snap her out of it. Only real treatment helped.

(2) Another client told me that asking her to "just stop using" was like asking me to "just stop breathing." After all, like breathing, she couldn't remember living without it, used it every day to live through it, and had begun to use it almost unconsciously. Like a drowning person pullng down a potential savior, she would do virtually anything to get it if you tried to get between her and what had become like air to her. My first reaction was that she was making excuses, but the longer I thought of her description, the truer it rang. She was describing addiction to a non-addict and I missed her point. Later, though, it sunk it. What would it be like to be so addicted that you couldn't stop? And how frustrating would it be to have people yelling at you and simplifying your situation as if the solution were as simple as just walking away.

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