Kicking the Monster.

Mike Starr, former bassist with Alice In Chains, was found dead the other day. A heroin addict, he did the requisite stint on "Celebrity Rehab," where it was painfully obvious that he needed way more help than Dr. Drew's televised pat on the back was going to provide.

For me, it's yet another reminder that I have something that will kill me if I don't keep it in check. I cringe sometimes when friends on Facebook post jokey little status updates about "being totally alcoholic" because they perhaps partied a little harder than usual the night before. Because I'm not waxing hyperbolic when I ask if these friends would ever consider posting something like: "I have cancer! LOL!"

The "disease theory" of addiction is still a controversial one. But it comes down to this: if you are an addict, you at the very least suffer from some real goddamned disordered thinking. I'd invite some of you who scoff to spend a little time in MY head. You would honestly be shocked at the some of the suggestions and justifications for all manner of self-sabotaging behavior that come out of nowhere. (Unless you're an addict yourself, in which case you might just think, "Damn. How come I don't think of that?")

And it's not a matter of "willpower," and it's not a matter of inherent moral bankruptcy (even if our addiction tends to steer us in that direction). It's something deep inside of us, some monster that gets kicked awake by the poison of our choice. I have no other words to describe it.

Being in recovery basically means taking the telephone apart and putting it back together so that it rings differently, or not at all. It's quieting the limbic system, or Paleomammalian brain, the part of you that wants to hurl yourself off the top of the nearest building because it's a total rush, man. It's disavowing yourself of the notion that being mired in addiction is somehow romantic, or destined, or really edgy and cool. And there are a number of different ways to do this.

It's tragic when someone knows what the problem is, knows there's a way to put it in remission, but can't stop because it's the only thing that person knows. That's the hardest thing to explain to someone who can just walk away from an unfinished drink (which - by the by - is every bit as baffling to us drunks as our inability to stop is as baffling to you). Because even I know that it makes no sense. You stick your hand in the fire. It burns you. So you stop sticking your hand in the fire. It doesn't work that way with me, with my father, with many of my friends, and with Mike Starr.

lisamcc at 11:24 a.m.

2 comments so far
Katie McColgan
2011-03-10 16:44:59
I just wanted to say thank you. Your words are brilliant.

Patty DesRochers
2011-03-10 21:08:22
Raw, bare, real. Your vocal and written honesty is searing, Lisa. Though Joyce Carol Oates perseverates on another kind of torment, her disclosures remind me of you and your power with words.

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