Sunday, November 16, 2008


I just watched the movie, Intervention, on DVD. It was captivating much as Clean and Sober was in a way that 28 days wasn't. I still liked 28 days. Intervention, though, speaks to the non voluntary, confrontational approach or forced rescue of the drug addict. If I didn't work in this field I'd question the civil rights and human liberties aspects of this. Certainly the lead character who is literally forced to go to a rehab centre threatens to take a restraining order out on his estranged wife who has undertaken the intervention. "I feel I've been kidnapped," he says and yet he only appears to acknowledge later that he really had been kidnapped by the drugs.

Drug addiction is that powerful and there is a need for an individual to be removed from the source if only for a week for perspective. That's the position of detox units but the actual corruption of character and motivation and denial that's involved in the alteration of brain chemistry is such that weeks if not months are necessary before there's any semblance of true saniety. The "lizard" brain functions to the very end but the mammalian and human brain take that long to resurrect.

The experiments with monkeys show that if a lever is wired to their pleasure centre in the brain they will pull that lever till death going without food or water just to get their 'fix'. Man is little different and the powerful effect of crack cocaine is like the lever, though clearly alcohol, opiates, amphetamine and even marijuania can powerfully addict.

While the movie does well to capture the loss of mood modulation that is one of the pathognomic features of drug withdrawal and early sobriety (perhaps even the first year) it does well to address the 'damaged' relationships which exist in association with addiction.

I was reminded of the child who was trying to please the alcoholic mother but her mother's pleasure was solely related to the internal level of alcohol and not at all related to the daughter's actions. People pleasing and personal guilt follow such relationships especially where dependency is at stake. The idea of the domestic addictions is addressed here but the movie is waiting to be made which addresses the even bigger picture. The employer employee relationships, the generals and the soldiers, the country's leaders and their people, all of these relationships have been negatively impacted by alcoholism and other addictions.

The beauty of the 12 step movement was that it was purely a 'self help' program with the initial actions of alcoholics helping other alcoholics but only if the alcoholic wanted it and was ready. There is good evidence that with other diseases the earlier the intervention the better the outcome but that avoids addressing the issue of nicotine and heart disease and lung disease. Man's addiction to war and killing may cave to the high costs of insurance. If the real estate crisis doesn't break America then surely the military long term health costs will, if only for the post traumatic stress disorders which are associated with addictions in a third to a half of cases.

Intervention does 'blame the victim' but it initiates a treatment and recovery process which is life saving and highly rewarding. The movie gets an Aplus for acting and plot and the dramatic spectacular ending. Thankfully, though the ending was truly human outside Hollywood the special effects aren't nearly so exciting.

Today I attended the Christ Church Cathedral service and was glad to see my special friend George. Later I could chat with a former employee and see how well behaved her delightful daughter was. Now when did I begin to appreciate children in terms of 'well behaved'? It was a good to see and hear Dean Peter Eliott. The visitting choir was masterful with hand clapping spiritual music. Each Sunday so much is happening in that wonderful space of polished wood, restored organ and beautiful stained glass. It's simply a prayerful place of Christian feng sui with a such a diverse group of people gathered for worship.

Later at 6 pm, I attended the Rainbow Church in St. John's United Church on Comox in the West End. It's more down to earth and robust. Each week someone reads out the names of those with illness and cancer in the congregation. There's moments of silence when individual prayers are encouraged. There's a roughness and humility. The words of the songs are projected onto the wall. The beat is up tempo. Everyone sings along with with pianist and band. They rock as a smaltzy spirituality creaps into some of the songs and Sultans of Swing comes to mind. Multi coloured flag dancers in belly dance constumes fill the space before the cross. The financial dream is for a 'dream centre' to attend to the physical and emotional as well as spiritual needs of those who come.
After church they serve a fellowship potluck. I haven't stayed though I will one day. Talking after church to a friend who just moved here from Winnipeg left me swirling in nostalgia.

Earlier that day at the library I had gathered a selection of books on various aspects of sexuality. I'm concluding a project of several years, writing a series of papers addressing the concerns that people bring to my office which I have yet to see in any of the standard text books. Last week I had a stack of books on alcoholism and drug addiction for another similiar project. I'd mildly wondered what people passing my desk must think of a guy with cocaine, heroin and ecstacy references all over his library work table.

Well, that was not nearly as telling as today's collection which included a titles like the "Anal Taboo" and "Medical aspects of various perversions." I was using a book called Cosmos Best Sex Secrets to prop open the one which compared todays stats with those found by Kinsey. The trends were amazing. Feminism, freedom of information, internet and various other 'theories', falling just short of mad cow disease or alien invasion, were put forward to explain this.

When I was younger I would have been 'embarrassed' to have these books in the open on my desk. I actually thought others were interested in what I was reading. I've reached an age where I don't think it really matters. Past 50 I've found no one is interested in what I'm reading especially if it is about sex.

It's the young we have to worry about, given their stamina. I read books today they shouldn't allow anyone under 50 to read. Also I could write a paper comparing what books were available in the medical library, the downtown library and this west end library. The latter were certainly more into the 'hands on' and far less interested in intellectualization. Go figure.

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