Wallowing in Sociopathy

Today’s million-dollar question:  Is there anything significant in people openly bragging about their disordered behaviors?

I thought about this in the context of last weekend’s "spring fling."  Several of the partygoers were open and unashamed of their substance-abuse problems, and had no qualms whatsoever in disclosing this to strangers.  A few of them are alcoholics; a few have had problems with drugs ranging from marijuana to cocaine.  Yet in the disclosures was a hint of a challenge.  Was it pride?  A dare to confront?  Not sure.

What I do know is that I was surprised at the way that "addict" status was borne as a badge of honor.  It was almost like a certificate of authenticity; if you haven’t developed the libertarian-style relativism that comes from snorting cocaine from public toilets, then you really don’t have much street cred.

So, I asked Steph (one of my lovely baristas) about her experiences — she is young and social and appears to have her head screwed on straight.  She said she knows people who are similarly situated; most addicts in her peer group (I think she’s 21) just don’t talk about it.  Jen (another lovely barista, who has an academic background in counseling) suggested that this phenomenon isn’t exactly obscure.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m generalizing; I’m not.  I have insufficient data to claim that there is a groundswell of pro-addict sentiment bubbling from below.  But I do know that there is something significant in the fact that several strangers felt the need to proudly disclose a history of substance abuse, with the clear expectation that even if I didn’t find it objectionable, I certainly wouldn’t say a negative word about it.

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  1. You know how you get around this:
    Start asking them the worst, most degrading thing they’d ever done for drugs. If they come back with something lame, like, “I stole from my mom’s purse,” make stuff up for them:
    “Did you ever let a sleazy bum grope you for three dollars?”
    “Did you ever wank off a donkey so your pimp could give you a hit off the pipe?”

    No matter what stories they tell, and they WILL tell them if asked, since addicts are such self-indulgent people, laugh at them.
    “HA! HA! HA! Man, that’s PATHETIC! You suck! HAHAHA!”
    “Oh, jeez! That’s hilarious! Stop it, you crazy drunk! You’re killin’ me!”

    They’ll leave you alone.

  2. I have encountered these same issues in my social life and find it not only in the 20 something crowd, but also amongst my peers, several of whom are headed into their 40’s. I suppose one of the aspects of being so open about substance abuse is that they are looking for permission. If they are open and everyone else in their social circle is admitting to the same thing, then they are “normal” and allowed to continue such self abuse and escapism. What is twisted about the whole affair is that the drug use is suppose to be a mark of distinction, a representation of counter culture. Ironically, it isn’t anymore. Everybody is on something these days, whether their doctor gave it to them or they found it on the street. On a grander scale, it appears to be the perfect way to dumb down the masses and keep them from noticing there is much to be outraged about.
    I watched many dear dear friends as I grew up lose touch with their inner child through such escaping. It has gotten so bad that I am hard pressed to count on one hand the number of old friends that I have left that are still clear headed.
    Regardless, this behavior does insure that I will always have work to do, especially as these friends hit their 50’s and suffer the repercussions of their failure to choose to stand apart from the crowd, fight the battle to maintain clarity and do something to change their environment instead of wallowing in their own disorder.

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