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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Russell Brand on Abstinence

Comedian Russell Brand has been talking a lot about his sobriety:

I've been trying to find out how to see his entire documentary on his recovery, but I think he's making some very strong arguments against the typical medical approach used in the UK for addiction treatment.  Basically, the British tend towards 'reduction and replacement' goals for addicts.  In essence, there is an assumption that sobriety is an impossible task, and so the best one can hope for is to manage physical dependency to a point where one becomes nominally functional in society.

What the UK is hoping for is to get people out of the gutter.  So long as you are not sleeping in your own filth, you're OK.  Never mind that you are still dependent, and in many cases unable to work.  Just don't live like an outtake from Trainspotting and all will be well.

The common medical approach has never worked, and it is not working in the UK.  In fact, Western Europe is having enormous consequences from this approach.  Why?

I think that the main reason is that the medical community in the UK, as well as Europe as a whole, is entirely adverse to God.  The Church of England is fading into obscurity, and most Western nations with a historical state church either have or are preparing to withdraw support.  Governments have become institutionally atheistic, and with this enforced atheism comes a discomfort with a 12 Step program that relies on God.

In the US, we have a slower creep of this influence, but it has been largely overcome by American pragmatism: while our courts usually uphold atheistic protests, they still enforce the usage of 12 Steps for addictions-related crimes, such as DUIs and 'drug court' charges.

Mr. Brand may want to examine the US approach to courts using a treatment-based system: it isn't very efficient and has a low success rate.  However, that's because it isn't voluntary and you cannot force an addict to sober up by force.  I recall years back hearing a drug-court 'client' tell the commissioner, "As soon as I'm done with probation, I'm gonna by a forty-ouncer and smoke a big, fat splif (slang for marijuana cigarette)!"  There wasn't much she could do about it.  He was 'in compliance' with the program and testing negative.

Abstinence is the only way to begin real sobriety.  So long as one is returning to dependency, one cannot grow.  Like riding a bicycle, you can't really ride the bike so long as you still need the training wheels to stay steady.

I'm glad Mr. Brand is making that case.

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