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.