Doctors and Policemen

From now on whenever I do or say something awful to somebody I'm gonna tell them, "But it's a form of therapy!"Story #1, from last year: "To Stay Out of Jail, Must Nonviolent Offenders Submit to Medical Diagnoses?" Last week, those favoring reductions in prison populations and their associated costs applauded Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that he's seeking an end to mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders. For administration critics who feel drug war reforms … [Read more...]

The Killing Joke: I read “Infinite Jest”

Finished it and flipped back to the very first page. Hugely tempted to just go in for an immediate re-read. It's an engrossing, brutal book.I found the first 100 pages or so a really mixed bag--my one real criticism is that the book itself sometimes seems... bewildered and amused?... by the existence of people who aren't white. There are definitely exceptions. The Hugs Not Drugs/"shit down your neck" scene is fantastic, and feels real, or rather feels exaggerated in the way both life and the … [Read more...]

“Sublime Recovery and Banal Recovery”: I’m in AmCon

sketching: This week I’m preparing to go to the 10th National Harm Reduction Conference (which I’ll be reporting on for TAC), and also reading for the first time David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. The conference and the novel offer strikingly different narratives of addiction and recovery–both of which are gaining cultural ground in different ways. more … [Read more...]

From “Infinite Jest”

[Gately's] respected and well-liked by almost all the residents, which the House Manager says causes the veteran Staff some concern, because Gately's job is not to be these people's friend all the time. --from the description of the drug rehab halfway house; it's weird reading this book after having read so much about abusive and just pointless "treatment" at similarly 12-Step-only, non-research-based treatment centers in the real world. It's presented with wry irony here, but that … [Read more...]

“Most People With Addiction Simply Grow Out of It–Why Is This Widely Denied?”: Maia Szalavitz

because it's boring? But no, this is a great reason for both friends and governments not to immediately leap to, "Maybe you have a problem and need help," when somebody has their first realization that they have maybe strayed into 1 Party 2 Many territory. I've made the over-interventiony mistake at least once (I think it's fairly normal for those of us who actually did need to completely quit drinking/using) so it's worth keeping in mind that most people who think, "Whoa okay, I need to get it … [Read more...]

From “Infinite Jest”

Exec. Director [of Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (sic)] Pat M. is due in at 0900 and has application interviews with three people, 2F and 1M, who better be showing up soon, and Gately will answer the door when they don't know enough to just come in and will say Welcome and get them a cup of coffee if he judges them able to hold it. He'll get them aside and tip them off to be sure to pet Pat M.'s dogs during the interview. They'll be sprawled all over the front office, sides … [Read more...]

Clone High: Roxana Robinson’s “Cost”

Look, I have to level with you people: This is a fairly good and poignant novel about family miscommunications and thwarted love, wrapped around a disingenuous, mediocre, and kind of infuriating novel about heroin addiction.Good stuff first, I hear that substance abusers lack self-discipline so let's eat our dessert first. The book is about a once-wealthy New England family riven by divorce; patriarch Edward is insufferably smug, his wife Katharine is losing her memory, their daughter Julia … [Read more...]


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