As I reported yesterday, comedian Greg Giraldo was in critical condition due to an accidental overdose just hours after performing at the National Recovery Month Rally in New York.   The situation is worse now, he has died, and it truly is a shame.  Some would call it a tragic case of addiction, I call it a tragic case of recovery.

Here is what the event’s organizers, OASAS, have to say about addiction:

Addiction is a chronic but highly treatable disease.

They also say:

“There are many pathways to recovery and each person’s journey is unique. We again will proudly join together as New Yorkers to welcome all those who celebrate recovery and offer hope to the 2.5 million New Yorkers who are dealing with the chronic brain disease of drug, alcohol or gambling addiction.”

Read the entire statement here: Recovery Rally New York

Besides the “disease” terminology which I rant about endlessly on this blog (in short, it’s a lie), it’s really this whole “chronic” business that’s the real culprit in bringing people down.  Addiction is not chronic – the preponderance of research shows that there is an average life-cycle to addiction, and that it falls short of the 10 year standard to be considered “chronic” (Heyman, Addiction: A Disorder of Choice)- it is not chronic or life-long.  Typically, addictions last around 5 years.  The majority of people who fit the into clinical description of dependent (addicted) quit long before their condition could ever be considered “chronic” – yet we tell EVERY person who presents themselves for treatment that addiction is a chronic relapsing disease.  It is not.  What’s more, this “recovery” term is always used in the present tense in the recovery culture – it’s a constant process, because they believe it’s a chronic disease.  And when we lie about this, we do nothing but convince people that they will fail, and be addicted forever.  Then what we have on our hands are cases of self-fulfilling prophecies, where we get what we expect – people who don’t believe they can change, tend not to change – and it leads to the story of Greg Giraldo.

Giraldo has apparently been “in recovery” since 2005.  He desperately needed some hope and positive thinking, as evidenced by a disturbingly candid interview in Psychology Today:

There’s an expression I’ve heard used for people in my shoes, people who see themselves like I see myself. I feel like I’m “the piece of shit at the center of the universe.” It’s a paradox. You feel like you’re so shitty you ruin everything, but you’re so important and powerful that you caused it, that you actually are to blame for everything.

That whole “the piece of shit at the center of the universe” thing is a rare and confusing phrase, uttered only by the most deeply indoctrinated AA members – Giraldo probably heard it from his sponsor.  I highly recommend you read the entire interview at Psychology Today in order to get a good picture of his mind-state 4 years into “recovery”.  Then you can decide whether you think he was getting what he needed from the 12-steps.  As you can imagine, I don’t think he was getting what he needed there.  He needed to focus on moving forward, and feeling proud of his achievements, but he was probably only being pushed to see himself as a lifelong addict, and to focus on his “defects of character”.  He had been living a life of “recovery” for the past 5 years – a life that by definition, includes struggle, self-contradictory messages, an all or nothing concept of substance use, powerlessness, and of course relapse.  He was “recovering” instead of living – because that’s what a bunch of clueless people in the recovery culture taught him to do.

Mr Giraldo has succumbed to “recovery”, and it’s too bad, he deserved better.

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