Tag Archives: Celebrity

Strawberry Field of Dreams

Nothing turns off an addict like feeling judged and nothing fuels active using like shame. So why is it that those are the main arrows in the quiver? A well meaning Darrel Strawberry made some very inflammatory comments about Doc Gooden, and while the intention may have been “tough love” my sense of this is, it didn’t help.
Darrel Strawberry & Doc Gooden

The Pathology of Addiction

After Gooden missed a personal appearance, Strawberry called Gooden a “complete addict junkie” reinforcing all the negativity that addicted folks are bad people. While the behavior certainly is frustrating, it is the pathology. Expecting someone in active addiction to act differently is like complaining the lake is wet. When someone is in the mire of addiction, their behavior will be poor. That doesn’t mean Gooden should skirt consequence, quite the contrary. It may be the consequence that brings him to a point of being willing to try. What he doesn’t deserve and what won’t help is a public flogging, asking Gooden to wear sac cloth and ashes for his “sin”. Addiction isn’t sin, it’s pathology. Not to mention: “get thee to a nunnery” Mr. Strawberry.

There is no zealot like the converted. One of the problems with modern recovery is that people who have stabilized take leave of empathy and compassion for an evangelical mission. Like the tea party, that road is too narrow for many people. Strawberry sits in judgement of his buddy because he “won’t listen”. That may be true or it may be true that the message Strawberry delivers doesn’t resonate with Gooden.

So what would be better? Compassion goes a long way. “Doc says he missed the event because of a health issue, that is true. My best guess is the health issue of which he speaks is addictive disease. My hope is Doc reaches out for help, if not from me, then from someone”.

Strawberry has a very specific brand of faith based recovery. Which is great, but only if it’s great for you. Often times faith based people feel at odds with science based advocates. The truth is, we are closer than we think. Isn’t scientific inquiry and working toward knowledge a God given gift? Even the AA big book says “we know but a little”. Certainly God would expect man to put in some effort toward understanding.

I don’t think Strawberry meant any harm, I think he meant to help his buddy the best way he knows. More than anything, when public people demonstrate dynamics in a large scale media forum, it offers the culture a chance to have a dialogue. The dialogue here is: what does tough love really do? If it’s the way to go, why are the rates of recovery so abysmal? One of the unyielding tenets of recovery is “when nothing changes, nothing changes” and that’s what we do. We yell, we shame, we judge all with the intent that the addicted person will “come to their senses”. Logic never applies, so stopping that tactic would seem prudent at this point.

Doc Godden has a long history in his sparring with addiction, it’s widely known. What Strawberry did do well was bring the issue into honesty, he didn’t enable and that’s a great strength when trying to slay this beast. One of the best helps is forming an alliance, and “junkie” won’t do that. Strawberry is living in fantasy if he thinks it will.

Ryan Lochte, Booze Just Isn’t For You

Ryan Lochte and Alcohol AbuseIn a refreshing respite from Trumps latest gaff, the news cycle was dominated this morning by something else. Unfortunately, it’s was a sad tale of scandal involving Ryan Lochte and two other young men from the U.S. Olympic swim team. Its seems that after some kind of issue at a gas station after a night of partying ended in a fabricated story about being held at gunpoint. A convenient way to sweep poor decisions under the rug and blame bad behavior on a dire economic condition in Brazil. Clearly this was a situation that got out of hand and the intention to get out of it, went awry.

Ryan Lochte’s Pattern of Alcohol Abuse

Lochte has a history of these types of incidents. He has previously been arrested for disorderly conduct and public urination. None of this displays inherent criminality, it’s low level stuff, but as a famous athlete, his stakes are higher and scrutiny is closer, making the behavior worse. One of the diagnostics for a substance abuse issue is “consequence with a willingness to do it again”. So in other words, if it were a bad decision and a young person learned their lesson, it’s not really pathology, it’s youth. The treatment plan for being 19 is being 25 and we all have to take our lumps with that experience. That’s not what Lochte is facing.

At 32 years old, Lochte no longer gets the latitude of “young and dumb”. There is a clear pattern of things going wrong when alcohol is added to his composition. This latest debacle is part of a larger pattern where Lochte acts in ways he wouldn’t in the absence of drinking and partying. Most concerning in the unfolding story is Lochte seems to have led younger teammates then left them holding the bag. That’s the integrity of someone who is actively impaired with a drinking problem. It’s unlikely, though possible, that Lochte has organic mental illness that would lead him to these situations. It’s more likely that when he drinks, these things can happen. That is what alcoholism is. That’s the definition of it. Most are looking for volume and frequency to explain the pathology and that’s only a small data point. More relevant is what happens when someone drinks.

Finding Help for Alcoholism

At the moment the media is consumed with what happens in Rio. Once this unravels, it’s very likely that the public flogging of Lochte will begin. Does Lochte deserve this? Partially he does, he acted poorly and needs to be held accountable. He also deserves empathy, he meets criteria for alcoholism and that requires treatment and compassion. Shame only fans the flame. Perhaps Lochte should speak with teammate Michael Phelps who, after numerous consequences, went into treatment and it seems to have worked, he’s doing well and is vocal about his recovery.

Were Lochte my son or my charge here is what I would advise he say and do: “I have had numerous consequences when I have been drinking. While I am not asking for my behavior to be excused and am willing to accept the consequences, I will be entering treatment to learn more about my relationship with and reaction to alcohol”. Clear, simple, and appropriate. Give me a call, Ryan, I can help you out.

Prince and the (Addiction) Revolution

Prince and Opiate OverdoseAfter months of speculation, there was an official announcement made today. Prince died of an opiate overdose. Sad to be certain that a great talent and seemingly a great man was cut down at a relatively young age. To some, this is a character indictment. To me, this is the sad outcome of a deadly disease. My empathy is deep and wide for his family and fans. 114 other people died of an opiate overdose the same day Prince did. America’s fantasy of a “drug free America” is killing people. It is time to let science and medicine take the reigns and leave shame, judgement, and incarceration as a distant memory and a hard lesson learned.

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