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Where does addiction reside?

March 31, 2012

2. Law, 7. Post-Trial

I’m just writing here.  No discussion of the law, or at least not too much of it.  It’s just that something struck me the other day.

I met with a guy in jail.  Simple enough underlying event – would go into an abandoned house to smoke some weed away from peering eyes and noses.  A confluence of events preceded him, however, and it resulted in the owner (who thought she’d lost the house years before to bankruptcy, hence abandoned) being there hours before and then a cop arrived as he was drifting into his high.  Entering the premises of another without permission with the intent to commit a crime therein.  Yes, Burglary.  There’s lesser included offenses, but all still felonies.  When we spoke in jail, I  calculated a Prior Record Score.  I had his local priors – small stuff.  Then I asked if he had priors in other counties.  “Yeah, Philadelphia.  Heroin.”  Ahh.  We had an honest discussion of his drug history.  I gave him a game plan and likely outcomes.  I drove back to the office.

I was lost in thought not in his situation because it was rather straightforward.  But I began to reflect on lots of my clients.  Here’s the drill – the dude above is a nice guy.  But smoking weed in another person’s building led to a felony.  I’ve got plenty of clients with felonies arising out of the sheer amount of drugs they held.  The lucky ones are under 18 – juveniles will at worst get rehab the first time.  The second time maybe a stint at a work camp.  But courts usually downgrade charges, if needed, to misdemeanors so that they wash away at majority.  Kids getting felonies is usually reserved for serial burglaries and dealers – not users.  And juvenile court loses jurisdiction before any real time can be assessed, hence the focus on rehab.

But what’s behind the drive for drugs?  I’m not interested in psych opinions and feel-good docs giving us the environmental factors that contribute.  That all suggests that if only a different environment existed the addiction would not have occurred.  If only I as a parent or sibling or friend did something different then that person would not have been addicted.  That’s garbage.  It does not explain why people of every economic class, every social class, every skin color, every subdivision you can think of still get addicted.  You can’t say it is the lack of money that causes addiction when you turn right around and tell me that too much money causes addiction.  Addiction, to me, must come from within.

So work with me.  Let’s assume that addiction comes from within a person.  Does that mean that the person is broken somehow?  I don’t think so.  We are all addicted in some way to some thing, it’s just that it is drugs for some people.  Is the person that keeps a house meticulously clean with magazines stacked neatly any less addicted?  What about the person that draws for 12 hours at a time?  Yes, that’s addiction.

My beginning point, then, is that I don’t condemn anyone for being addicted to anything.  But if their addiction brings them to my office, then we need to find another outlet for the energy.  It’s transference that needs to be achieved.  It is not simplistic to say that a person needs to become addicted to something else.

I read in law school where Gerry Spence said that any lawyer that isn’t scared to death when he walks into a courtroom just doesn’t understand.  I embrace that wholly.  And I am scared.  And then I take that first step forward into the well of the court.  And I take the energy created by fright and transfer it to confidence.  I relabel it inside my head.  And then I own it.

Call that fear within me one of my addictions.  I cure it by owning it, re-purposing it.  Now I control the addiction.

And that is what I see in a lot of clients.  They are still viewing their addiction as something outside themselves.  That is unintended evil.  Something outside oneself cannot be controlled.  Once we grab it and drive it inward then we can control it.  And then its ability to control us has vanished.

No person or course of treatment can cure addiction.  They can only assist in relieving the immediate issues arising from the addiction.  And even kicking heroin is just a matter of a few weeks.  Once the immediate poison is gone, then the issue of owning it kicks in.

There’s great organizations out there like Narc Anon with meetings every week, usually held in churches. Here’s their meeting locator.  These folks help you keep the addiction within your control.  And you’d be amazed at the people – all ages, all economics, all everything.

Trust me, sisters, I’ve got clients doing decades because they dealt drugs – and never used their product.  At least they got a release date.  For the users that never step forward to own it, there ain’t no release date.  Find a meeting.  It’s important.

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About Clyde

Clyde is the lead attorney in the firm. Licensed to practice in 1993, he's also taught Constitutional and Criminal Law for several years at a private university, primarily at the Master's level.

View all posts by Clyde

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