Controlled Crack Smoking is a Crock
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Controlled Crack Smoking is a Crock

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controlled crack smokingIn an article posted on Salon, author and adult daughter of an alcoholic Leslie Garrett writes about how events like her grandfather’s fatal drunk driving encounter with an empty pool and having to hid her mother’s booze bottles have given her a  “deep compassion for addicts” but not a lot of patience with them. And from this recovering alcoholic (who’s also been affected by the selfishness of addicts in my own life), I think this is a damn good attitude.

Since one of the most unattractive characteristics of having the “ism” (or what some refer to as an addictive personality) can be an inability to be honest with your self, it’s hard to read the articles Garrett cites in her piece, by Shane Schleger and Joe Berkowitz, and not cringe. No matter how controlled Schleger may sound when describing his 15 years of moderate crack use or how confidently Berkowitz delivers his “informed” decision to start drinking again after two-and-a-half years of “researching” sobriety, anyone with first-hand experience with addiction sees these summations for what they are: kind of total fucking bullshit.

Although I am somewhat impressed with Schleger’s ability to maintain a seasonal crack habit, his account isn’t convincing that there is a “middle ground between total abstinence and rock bottom.” I hate to be the one to point this out but, um, if you are smoking crack at all, you have hit rock bottom. I don’t think you get extra points for how long you’re able to stay there.

Garrett cites another source in her article whom would probably disagree with me. Dr. Adi Jaffe, executive director of Alternatives Addiction Treatment in Beverly Hills, is an advocate for moderation as an alternative to abstinence. In Garrett’s piece he says, “We self-medicate in a number of ways. That notion that that is problematic is a judgment call.” Yes, but whose? Because I can bet you dollars to donuts that no one who loves Shane Schleger would vote to keep him hitting the pipe into his golden years.

The only part of Garrett’s piece that didn’t sit entirely well with me was her ending: “Is it possible to be a high-functioning addict? Sure it is. But on behalf of those around you, don’t try to convince us it’s ‘fun.’” But for the addict, it can be fun. It can be fun as hell, which is why they went back to using in the first place.

Sure there are alcoholics who talk about the last years of their drinking being nothing but incomprehensible demoralization or at the very least sad. But many addicts who continue to relapse are still chasing the good ol’ days. And even if they don’t find it, there’s something they are still getting out of the hope they might.

While Garrett is a worthwhile authority, I get the sense that she still doesn’t seem to fully comprehend that a practicing or unrecovered alcoholic will never give enough of a shit about the people whom their drinking or using affects. Because they most likely aren’t aware of it or refuse to believe they are hurting anyone but themselves. Exhibit A: Joe Berkowitz.

No doubt the Schleger and Berkowitz pieces were wildly popular—not to mention welcomed reads for people desperate for a co-signer to their denial—but between Berkowitz’s cutesy names for “blackouts” and Schleger’s pipe “lust,” neither one of them make good arguments for a moderate lifestyle. And while I simply adore Garrett for calling them out, she ends up coming off a bit matronly in her views.

If you think you might drink too much or are concerned about your summertime meth habit, ultimately only you can decide if something needs to change. But at least have the decency to recognize that the “regrettable impression or two” you left might affect someone other than you.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.