|December 2006 / Issue No. 26
Welcome to the Thorburn Addiction Report. Each month, we bring you several sections, including:
1. Top Story-of-the-Month
3. Dear Doug in which a recent letter to "Dear Annie" or other "help" column is rewritten, with responses given from the unique perspective that alcohol or other drug addiction best explains the misbehaviors described
4. Alcoholic Myth-of-the-Month
5. Alcoholic Antic-of-the-Month, usually where someone deserves the Darwin Award, but lived.
There is something for everyone!
We are having a holiday inventory reduction sale on books, but you’ve got to call us at 800-482-9424 to take advantage of the sale. Buy several for family, friends and colleagues. Minimum 50% discount off the cover price of Doug’s first two books if ordered by December 20; additional discounts on multiple quantities. We pay shipping and, if in California, sales tax. Call us; we might surprise you with how low we’re willing to go. You know the value. Give the gift that will improve a life for a lifetime. Happy holidays!
An Alcoholic Stoops to a New Low:
The Brief Return of O.J. Simpson
O.J. tries to recapture the limelight with
his (ghostwriter’s) new book, If I Did I
Extraordinary overachievers are, perversely, frequently alcoholics. Horrific acts are terrific clues to alcoholism. The bizarre can also be an excellent indicator of addiction. If overachieving, horrific and bizarre are combined, we get O.J. Simpson: former football great and Heisman Trophy winner, convicted (in civil court) murderer and someone who recently wanted to tell the worldand his childrenhow he “would have” murdered their mother “if” he had done so.
“Experts” suggested his book was merely a continuation of Simpson’s well-known narcissistic tendencies, in which he has sought attention on the playing field, car-rental ads, movies and the trial of the century. It’s the only way for him to get back in the limelight, they say. Let’s instead try the idea that alcoholism-driven egomania was once again asserting itself, which is usually the root cause of what appears to be narcissism.
In a 1989 letter of apology to the woman he later murdered, his wife Nicole Brown Simpson, O.J. wrote, “…I’m not going to blame being drunk [for having struck you] that’s (sic) no excuse. (But I have decided to stop drinking and will go to AA)” (parentheses in the original). Therefore, we can safely assume alcoholism. I long ago hypothesized that he was in an alcoholic rage, a blackout (a period during which events don’t enter the memory banks, so nothing will ever be remembered), or both when he committed the murders.
Retired, with reputation shattered, Simpson is far less able to successfully inflate his ego than he once was. This is the reason middle- to late-stage alcoholics may engage in desperate and sometimes bizarre or reckless attempts at doing so. While we can expect more of the same, he’s at an age where many alcoholics begin to succumb to the ravages of the disease. I must admit to conflicted feelings. If he becomes a more obvious late-stage drunk he’ll become less capable of inflicting damage on others, but we’ll lose the entertainment value of his antics. On the other hand, with rumors circulating of unreported income from autograph signings, maybe the criminal justice system isn’t through with him. Law enforcers had to catch Al Capone for tax evasion; perhaps the same will prove true for O.J.
Runners-up for top story of the month:
Actor Daniel Baldwin, arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto. Just a few months earlier, Baldwin made news crashing a rented car into two parked vehicles after speeding at over 80 mph on Los Angeles area streets, which in turn occurred shortly after an arrest on suspicion of cocaine possession, which in turn…well, you get the idea. Baldwin is the brother of actors Alec, Stephen and William.
Actors Pamela Anderson, 39 and Kid Rock, 35 filing for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences” after getting married on a yacht in St. Tropez four months before. Anderson was previously married to rocker Tommy Lee for three years. Theirs is a classic case of alcoholic antics continuously providing fodder for the tabloids.
Actress Tawny Kitaen Finley, 45, a former O.J. Simpson lover, arrested on charges of cocaine possession in the San Juan Capistrano, CA apartment she shares with her two children. It was not clear why there was a delay in filing charges, as the discovery by police occurred months ago around the time “The Surreal Life 6” premiered. While filming the reality show, she claimed to be suffering from a sinus infection, accounting for a runny nose. However, the shows’ producers intercepted cocaine in a shampoo bottle that was delivered to the set and she landed rehab days before the new season aired. Finley was once accused of attacking then-husband former Angels pitcher Chuck Finley with high-heeled stiletto shoes on the drive home following an argument at a steak house. After her arrest for this incident, in which she was also accused of grabbing his ear and twisting it, as well as putting her foot on top of his, forcing the accelerator to the floor, Chuck Finley was granted temporary custody of their two daughters, then ages nine and three.
Actor-comedian Michael Richards, who played Jerry Seinfeld’s eccentric neighbor Kramer on the hit TV show “Seinfeld,” shouting racial epithets at people who heckled him during a stand-up routine at a comedy club in West Hollywood, CA. While later denying he had been drinking, Richards joined a David Letterman interview of Jerry Seinfeld the following night via satellite and looked sick, baffled and contrite over his own behaviorexactly what might be expected of an alcoholic not under the influence viewing his behavior while under the influence. An Internet search found no priors, but it may be relevant that Richards has found little success after Seinfeld’s demise and a number of observers on various blogs point out that he “had” to be blasted. It’s also interesting that except for Seinfeld himself, Richards’ co-stars have stayed mumas if they know too much. Richards may be reluctant to cop to his having been imbibing, since the Congressman Mark Foley scandal and Mel Gibson arrest shows that almost everyone thinks he’d be using drinking as an excuse. Wrongit doesn’t excuse misbehaviors, but it does explain them and shows that the abuse is a symptom of addiction. Michael Richards, even though you denied drinking that night and not one pundit pointed to possible alcoholism as the cause of your rage, I have privately confirmed your disease. If you are as aghast at your behaviors as your fans are and want to get better, please come clean. The way to prove there’s a good man under that muck of addiction is to get sober.
Actress Lindsay Lohan, who, according to her publicist Leslie Sloane-Zelnik, has begun attending AA meetings. Sloan added, “…she’s not saying…she’ll stop drinking tomorrow…But…the fact that she’s seeing that there’s something not right makes her smarter than the next person.” [Emphasis added for ease of comparison with the next paragraph.] No, it means that the publicity surrounding her recent antics and reported overdose (see “Enabler of the month,” below) may have created enough pain that she’s open to the possibility that she suffers from the disease of alcoholism. Message to Ms. Sloane-Zelnik: inflating her ego by making her think she’s smarter than other alcoholics doesn’t help. She’s got an enormous amount of competition in terms of intelligence among her fellow addicts.
This is the fourth time Lohan’s name has made it into these pages. Her first mention was in the “under watch” section, December 2004:
“Mean Girls” star Lindsay Lohan, whose partying and multiple car crashes have recently caused friends to describe her as “spinning out of control,” following a magnificently enabling cover-story in the September 6  issue of People magazine, in which both she and her mother denied that anything was wrong. [Emphasis added.]
By August 2006, she qualified for “runners-up”:
Actress Lindsay Lohan, 20, whose “hard-partying” style is taking its toll on her work. According to TheSmokingGun.com, a letter from the CEO of her own production company refers to her behaviors as “…discourteous, irresponsible and unprofessional.” He compares her actions to that of a spoiled child, which “has endangered the quality of” the film she is working on, “Georgia Rule,” for which she is frequently showing up late, if at all.
Lindsay’s mother was honored as an “enabler-of-the-month” in September 2006:
Dina Lohan, coming to her daughter Lindsay Lohan’s defense after Morgan Creek Productions CEO James G. Robinson wrote, “We are well aware that your ongoing all night heavy partying is the real reason for your so called ‘exhaustion.’” Dina said, “I’m a mother and will do what I need to do to protect my child,” and accused Robinson of being “way out of line.” [I concluded with a message for Dina:] If we are right about Lindsay, your actions are increasing the odds that she will ruin many relationships and even destroy lives, ultimately culminating in her own. My book, Drunks, Drugs & Debits, gives a ‘gut feel’ for addiction and will help you to offer the love she needs: uncompromising tough love.
Message to Lindsay: Maybe there’s a chance you’ll do what’s right, despite the protestations, protections, excuses and lies of the enablers around you. Our best wishes for you on your road to sobriety, Lindsay.
Actor-comedian Michael Richards was in this spot until I privately confirmed his alcoholism (which, by the way, involved a story of similar rage, holes punched in walls, lots of bottles and the stench of vodka). Most of the names in this section would likely end up in “runners-up” if such confirmation was possible with everyone. The Richards story is the sort to which I immediately ascribe an 80% likelihood of alcohol or other-drug addiction and start in this section. Upgrades to “runners-up” are made possible only when people talk, which we need to do more of.
Co-Dependents of the Month:
Suzie Marie Pena’s mother, Lorena Lopez, announcing that she would press ahead with her lawsuit against the LAPD to avenge her daughter’s death when the L.A. police board concluded after a 15-month investigation that the toddler’s death was the fault of her father, Jose Raul Lemos, a.k.a. Jose Raul Pena, in July 2005. I wrote in “runners-up,” August 2005, that Pena used his “19-month-old daughter Suzie Marie Pena as a shield against police trying to arrest him after being reported for making domestic threats against Suzie’s mother, Lorena Lopez and, in a separate report, for physical threats against Lopez’s 16-year-old daughter. Pena’s family in El Salvador described his relationship with Lopez as ‘troubled’ and punctuated with fights. Pena, an illegal migrant, had been deported in 1995 after a conviction for cocaine possession, but later illegally returned. He pleaded guilty to burglary and other crimes in 1994, pled guilty to DUI in 1996, was arrested in 1997 and charged with gun possession by a felon in 2004. He had 18 aliases, nine birth dates, three fake drivers’ licenses and three fake Social Security cards. Police, who described Pena as despondent and crazed as he randomly shot at police officers, used psychologists in an attempt to get him to talk and gave Pena numerous opportunities to surrender. His family, who blamed police for the death of the little girl, initially denied charges that Pena was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs….Toxicology reports later showed that Pena was under the influence of alcohol and unspecified other drugs.” I added that there were no doubt “hundreds of incidents for which close persons could have intervened, but didn’t. There were also dozens of encounters for which law enforcers could have stepped in with a very heavy hand. Little Suzie died because some were unwilling, while others were unable, to coerce abstinence in her addicted father.”
Message to Pena’s family: it’s time to admit your role in little Suzie’s death.
Enabler of the Month:
When Actress Lindsay Lohan was found unconscious on a recent Sunday morning before the announcement that she began attending AA meetings, a doctor was summoned. After finding “a stash of cocaine and a pile of prescription drugs” including Vicodin, Dilaudid, Ambien and nitrous oxide (laughing gas), the doctor insisted she go to a hospital for what he termed a “serious drug overdose,” and then into rehab. After Lohan later that day announced she would no longer be dealing with the physician who attended to her, her publicist Leslie Sloane-Zelnik explained that “a doctor was called because Lindsay fell and scraped both her arms. She needed bandaging.” You just can’t make this stuff up. If she dies, her friends, family and other codependents and enablers will ask, “What happened? How could she do this to herself?” You’ll find the answer above the bathroom vanity.
Note to family, friends and fans of the above: the benefit of the doubt is given by assuming alcoholism (they are either idiots and fundamentally rotten, or they are alcoholic/other drug addictswhich would explain the misbehaviors). If alcoholic, there is zero chance that behaviors, in the long run, will improve without sobriety. An essential prerequisite to sobriety is the cessation of enabling, allowing pain and crises to build. Thus far, many have done everything they can to protect the addict from the requisite pain, making these news events possible. The cure for alcoholism, consequential bad behaviors and, ultimately, tragedy, is simple: stop protecting the addict from the logical consequences of misbehaviors and proactively intervene.
Rude, condescending, sarcastic, belittling and brilliant.
If the combination of words that best describes someone has seemingly inherent contradictions, we need to look for addiction, however improbable it may at first seem. Since these terms are an apt description of Dr. Gregory House, the lead character on the show “House,” the odds are if we are able to peer into the person’s private life we’ll prove addictive use.
I recently discovered “House,” which airs on FOX on Tuesdays at 9pm (repeated Fridays at 10pm), in its third season. There is little on TV that brings thoughts such as “brilliant” or several belly laughs in almost every episode, but “House” manages. The tight and acerbic writing is comparable to that of the original “Law and Order” starring the late Jerry Orbach as Detective Lenny Briscoe. It, too, is one of the greatest series ever shown on the small screen. The culprit is a medical malady instead of a human one and Dr. House is a practicing pharmaceutical drug addict, while Briscoe was a recovering alcoholic.
Until recently, each episode of “House” was a stand-alone medical mystery. However, a new thread has been introduced, which heightens the interest for the addiction aware. House has supposedly been in chronic pain while gulping Vicodin like they’re candy. He’s nasty, mean-spirited and sarcastic to both staff and patients, which could be typical of an iNtuitive-Thinker M.D. addict. His nastiness was particularly pronounced while treating a detective named Michael Tritter (smartly played by David Morse). When Tritter realized that House was an addict, he decided to go after him.
The investigation of House’s overuse of pain pills has begun and we’ve learned that House has forged prescriptions in order to load up as only an addict would. House tells Tritter that one of his subordinates, Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), wrote the scripts, which Wilson confirms, as only a dutiful enabler would. Now that his drug supply is threatened, House is shown becoming suddenly more interested in keeping access to the drug than to the medical mystery at hand. And, he’s ready and willing to sacrifice Wilson’s medical practice. Will the addict get his due? Or will the enabler be the fall guy? It probably won’t turn out the way it should in real life (the show would likely have to end), but we will at least be entertained and hopefully not too annoyed at the result.
“House” is strongly recommended for very good acting, excellent writing, an interesting mystery, some very clever if mean-spirited sarcasm and a unique look at the possible behaviors of an addicted iNtuitive Thinker in his position. Now, even better, it offers a view of several different people enabling for their own reasons, as well as how far an addict will go in destroying the lives of others to protect his perceived right to use.
Dear Doug: He'll Never Change
I’m losing my patience with my husband. He calls almost every week night near the end of the work day to tell me he’s going out for a beer. Most of his drinking buddies are single guys, but one is a young single divorcee from his office. He often drives home as late as 10 or 11 at night and is sometimes almost incoherent. He’s already had one bad incident on the way home and was able to buy his way out of it.
My counselor has told me he’s not going to change. I’m hurt, jealous and afraid. His behavior tells me he’d rather be out drinking than come home to a wonderful meal I always have waiting. I even do everything to make me and our home look good when he comes home. Maybe if he sees this letter, he’ll shape up.
Feeling Ignored and Unloved
. . . .
Dear Serious Codependent,
Other columnists might suggest that before you file for divorce, try Al-Anon for friends and relatives of alcoholics. This suggests they are tiptoeing around the idea that the man’s an alcoholic. They may, incredibly, say nothing else.
We shouldn’t tiptoe around the obvious, especially when concerned for your safety, as well as that of others. A failure to be blunt prevents many from drawing a fine line in the sand. The slow bleeding of love for such a man almost invariably ends in a permanent dissolution of the relationship and a continuation of the disease, which can only end in further tragedy.
Let me be absolutely blunt. Your husband has the disease of alcoholism, which causes egomania. This results in, among other things, egocentric and incredibly inconsiderate behaviors. Talking, threatening, cajoling and counseling will do nothing to stop the progression of this disease, from which we should assume all of his misbehaviors result. The frightening aspect to it is there is no way to know how much more destructive he may become, or when. Adultery and infecting you with STDs are possible, as is violence, financial disarray and a DUI resulting in manslaughter.
But change, he mightwith the right motivation. The one thing that will cause the symptoms to dissipate is sobriety. He needs to be offered no pleasant alternative to a life in which he will never again drink. While you are preparing for an intervention led by a professionally certified interventionist, separate yourself financially in case he commits manslaughter while driving home. With the approval of your attorney, tell your insurer to immediately terminate all joint insurance. Since the legal system might more easily coerce abstinence, try to alert authorities as to his whereabouts when you believe he is driving while plastered. And to help you feel good about taking these actions and for ideas on more moves to take, pick up a copy of Drunks, Drugs & Debits and read it cover to cover.
(Source for story idea: Annie’s Mailbox, October 26, 2006.)
Prevent Tragedy Foundation
"He fought his demons."
So said Rain Pryor in regards to her father, the late comedian Richard Pryor, in an interview with Bill Handel on a recent “The Bill Handel Show” (KFI 640am, Los Angeles), in a publicity interview for her new book, Jokes My Father Never Taught Me: Life, Love, and Loss with Richard Pryor. Unfortunately, both she and Handel (who is a long-time recovering addict) used the term “demons” repeatedly. The term, a euphemism for “drug addiction,” serves only to confuse the uninitiated by suggesting the idea that demons cause psychotropic drug addiction rather than addiction causes demons. Instead of educating, it misguides.
Richard Pryor was married six times. His daughter describes him as misogynistic, mercurial, unpredictable and violent. She describes life with her father as one of “sex and violence, punctuated by rare moments of family happiness,” which is typical even in the more extreme environments in which children of addicts cope. Addiction probably ran in his family: his father was a pimp and his mother a prostitute. He was a brilliant comedian and, at times, spoke openly about his addiction.
Pryor died of cardiac arrest in December, 2005 after a 19-year battle with multiple sclerosis. He was called a genius by some; a self-destructive madman by others. But let’s not obfuscate, just because he could be brilliant and, even if only occasionally, a decent family man. He was an addict and his brilliance kept him in the limelight, helping to keep him from getting sober until the mid ‘90s, when his body began giving out from MS
|Amazing Antics: Stories of Alcoholism-Driven Behaviors
Story from “This is True” by Randy Cassingham, with his “tagline:”
"You can't shoot me, I'm invisible!"
“FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU: James Walter Quick, 42, and Richard Allen Johnson, 43, went hunting together, then watched a college football game at Johnson's house in Lexington, S.C. They had $20 riding on the game, and the South Carolina Gamecocks beat the Clemson Tigers. Quick asked Johnson to pay up, but Johnson said the Tigers should have won and refused to pay. Quick, police say, went to his car and grabbed his hunting rifle, returned to the house, and demanded his $20. Witnesses say Johnson, who was still wearing camouflage clothing from the hunting trip, replied, "You can't shoot me, I'm invisible." Quick replied, "No you're not," and fired. Quick has been charged with murder. Police say both men had been drinking. (Charlotte Observer) ...Who would have guessed?”
Randy’s got it rightthis could only occur when there’s drinking involved. But at the risk of ruining the humorous aspect to a possible Darwin Award winner, I have to wonder who had the higher BAL: the drunk claiming to be invisible, or the one shooting the rifle.
Quick and Johnson became acquainted after their wives, who were good friends, introduced them a couple of years ago. Quick was calmly leaning against his Corsica when police arrived and quietly made the arrest. Quick’s wife, Ann Marie Quick, said that the incident is “totally out of his nature.” Could it have been an aberration? It’s unlikely despite the lack of confirming evidence, because the two argued, it went too far and they both acted in ways that non-alcoholics wouldn’t. Will we ever confirm? Not likely, because the stigma of alcoholism keeps most relatives from coming clean. While the world would be a safer place if the secrets weren’t kept, we’ll likely have to wait for more enlightened times.
(Story and tagline from “This is True,” copyright 2006 by Randy Cassingham, used with permission.
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