Don't laugh at Robert Downey Jr. anymore.
May 2, 2001 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Don't laugh at Robert Downey Jr. anymore. It's time for the DEA, the drug czar and all the state and local municipalities to stop persecuting addicts. It's time for Americans to change the way our tax dollars are spent. We need to fund research that will make rehab work for everyone, not just the few poster children who make it through. We need to stop snickering at the woes of the famous who have not been successful at quitting so far and try to help them, plus those who are not so famous but just as unsuccessful. Addiction is a disease, a malfunction of brain chemicals. I urge you to find compassion in your hearts for those who are addicted, and then write your legislators, urging them to change the laws to help people, instead of continually throwing them in jail.
posted by Lynsey (48 comments total)
I agree with most everything you said, with one exception.

I have never laughed at Robert Downey's trouble with addiction. In fact, I don't know a lot of people that think it's funny, since just about everyone can relate on some level.

(which makes me think of Requim for a Dream. It hits everyone hard because everyone can relate on some level)
posted by jragon at 1:14 PM on May 2, 2001

Thank you Lynsey for the impassioned plea (note I didn't use compassionate.) I agree. Addiction is a brain disease. Jail time doesn't solve this problem. Let's begin by removing the idiotic law preventing poor and convicted drug users from having an opportunity for higher education. Where's the compassion?!? Why should some addictions be encouraged (alcohol and nicotine) while others are punished? Let's get real!
posted by nofundy at 1:16 PM on May 2, 2001

Amen, lynsey. The hypocrisy in this country re: treatment of drug addicts vs. that of alcohol addicts is staggering. Write your congressperson, please.
posted by luser at 1:16 PM on May 2, 2001

Not to worry. We WILL win the war on drugs!

All we need are a few trillion dollars more...
posted by bondcliff at 1:23 PM on May 2, 2001

Right on. End the persecution of drug addicts and lets get some treatment going to stem demand. It's amazing the hippocrisy of the current crop of leaders from George W. Coke to the partygirl fruit of his loins, Jenna Bush. I'm sure she's not using anything illegal, just illegal using the legal stuff. Yeah, right.
posted by shagoth at 1:50 PM on May 2, 2001

Maybe instead of jail, we should LOCK these people up in hard core drug treatment centers. Robert Downey has ample resources to get help and it has not paid off. Instead of Jailing him, send him to a jail type place where they deal with his issues. First offense, 6 months in there. Second offense, 1 year, etc, etc.
And instead of ME, the california tax payer paying for it, have HIM foot most of the bill. I really think it is his own fault. He has a problem, and has not fixed it.
posted by ericdano at 1:51 PM on May 2, 2001

But if we lock him up in a rehab center, how will he be able to continue Ally McBeal? 'Cause that's more important than his health and well being, right? And of course, there is the well-known fact that celebrities with drug addictions are funny and tolerated, or pitied at the worst. Ordinary druggies, though... they're filthy and depraved and worthless and should be thrown in jail because they obviously can't contribute to society.
posted by starvingartist at 1:58 PM on May 2, 2001

It's none of the government's business what any of these people do, as long as it doesn't harm anyone else. If they want to be stupid, let them.
posted by norm at 2:07 PM on May 2, 2001

But the government needs something to fight! And "War On Drugs" has a much better ring to it than "War On Double-Parking" or "War On Ham".
posted by websavvy at 2:11 PM on May 2, 2001

It seems to me that the decline of our public schools began about the time this "War on some Drugs started"
Students are sharing textbooks, arts programs are a distant memory, meanwhile we have million dollar helicopters and small armies flying around looking for pot plants.
I can't believe how long this has gone on for.
posted by keithl at 2:19 PM on May 2, 2001

It's none of the government's business what any of these people do, as long as it doesn't harm anyone else. If they want to be stupid, let them.

Sure, and having lots of perpetually stoned people on the streets stealing to support their habits and generally running amok doesn't affect me, just the poor bastards they rob and run over. Don't get me wrong, I *do* think the war on drugs is pathetic - but lines have to be drawn somewhere for acceptable behaviour too.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 2:27 PM on May 2, 2001

While it is true that celebrities are often given more leniency in these circumstances, and, while it is true that the average addict is often seen as worthless and just plain dirty by the system and the general populus, that still doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to help these people, whether they're famous or not. No, the world is not fair, but just because someone is a celebrity, that doesn't make them any less human than anyone else. They still trip and fall and they still fight the same exact fight with addiction as the next guy. The throes of addiction don't change on account of a person's monetary flaunt.

The way this is dealt with needs to be changed. If we're going to help anybody, regardless of their lot in life, treatment needs to come before jail time. Robert Downey Juinior is an easy target for us to point at, but when it really comes down to it, he's no different than you or I. Knowing a couple of "celebrities" myself, I can assure you that they're pretty much just regular human beings. Leave the guy alone.
posted by lizardboy at 2:32 PM on May 2, 2001

Um, Diplo, did you realize that Norm said, "doesn't harm anyone else," as a qualifier to his statement? All of the scenarios you mention are the user harming someone else.
posted by Doug at 2:37 PM on May 2, 2001

Sure, and having lots of perpetually stoned people on the streets stealing to support their habits and generally running amok...

I believe that public intoxication, theft and disorderly conduct are already covered under existing laws...
posted by sad_otter at 2:43 PM on May 2, 2001

Most drug related crime is over the battle for selling turf not users looking to support their habits
posted by keithl at 2:45 PM on May 2, 2001

the whole theory is that when you're locking addicts in jail, they will receive drug treatment theapy there... therefore theoretically you are locking them into a treatment center. unfortunately the programs in most jails are a joke and help almost no one.
posted by palegirl at 2:46 PM on May 2, 2001

Wait...why does Robert Downey, Jr. get all the attention?

Drugs have been destroying families for years, both ethnic and poor. But it seems that wasn't until Robert Downey Jr. was arrested for what, the fourth time?, and a white director (forgive me, my sweetheart) made a powerful movie about how drugs affect white people that the general public began to cry out:

"The War on Drugs is a waste of taxpayers' money! We should be rehabilitating these poor afflicted souls, not jailing them....of course, by 'poor afflicted souls', we mean addicted, upper-class people. Surely not those poor, minority crack whores and heroin addicts. Put them in jail!"

I agree that the war on drugs isn't working. I advocate treatment versus jailtime. I just want to point out that white, upper-class addicts tend to be given a lot more chances than a poor, minority drug user.
posted by jennak at 3:05 PM on May 2, 2001

Jail IS a method of rehabilitation:

Hear me out: given an adequate brake from the source of drugs, an inmate is forced to go "cold turkey". When he or she gets out of jail, they have a clear mind to decide the road they want to take this time around.

Obviously, the above relies on a jail system where drugs don't circulate among inmates and that in iteself is not 100% realistic. But the above policy is sound and perhaps a better route to take would be to make the drugs inaccessible to inmates, which can be done.
posted by Witold at 4:15 PM on May 2, 2001

Witold, besides being pretty nuts, I think that ignores the question of why should someone go to jail for putting chemicals into their body? I don't know if you drink or not, but wouldn't it be a little odd if we decided to put you in jail because we didn't think you should be drinking?
posted by Doug at 4:20 PM on May 2, 2001

Many addicts don't feel they could possibly quit altogether, but welcome some help in reducing their level of dependence. Perhaps it's time to include harm reduction among the socially acceptable remedies for addiction problems. Harm reduction programs are based on the idea that even though a person might still drink or take drugs, if they can reduce their use to a level which does not cause them (or anyone else) life problems, then that is a successful outcome of treatment. No one is told they are powerless or that addiction is a "disease" (a conclusion that is still hotly debated in the addiction-medicine field). Instead, they're helped to set drinking/using goals and given practical strategies to work on getting there, plus group support. This approach to addiction treatment does two valuable things--it reaches people who have a mild problem, who would never call themselves "alcoholics" or "addicts" but who are concerned about their substance use; and it reaches dependent addicts/alcoholics who don't believe they can quit but who would like to cut down.
posted by Tholian at 4:26 PM on May 2, 2001

Something else to keep in mind is the large number of addicts who were first introduced to heroin while in prison.
posted by snakey at 4:44 PM on May 2, 2001

It's morning here in Sydney and i'm in a shitty mood.

Why is it, that drug users have to be treated, let them enjoy what they like doing. Make it legal and let the whole world enjoy what drug users have been enjoying for years.

Drugs are bad mmm'kay.
posted by Zool at 4:47 PM on May 2, 2001

Oh, enough of this whining compassion for losers. Downey is a man of privilege, surrounded by others of privilege. If there is any group of people with the financial resources needed to be truly in control of their own lives, it is those people who, by their own talent, have become privileged.

The only person responsible for Downey's addiction is Downey. Not me, not you, not Duh Gubbamint. I'm highly upset about paying for jails for people who committed crimes that only slightly impact society, such as drug addiction. I'm even less enthused about paying for some guaranteed-not-to-work government 'rehab' program designed to toilet-train millionaires not to be bad boys and snort coke.

My solution to the Downey Issue is this: since we know that Downey can track down cocaine better than a genetically-engineered German Shepherd, we implant homing beacons into his skull. When our little coke-homing pigeon starts to jones, we have our crack (no pun intended) rooftop snipers trail him to his favorite dealer. When Downey scores a hit, so do the snipers! The plan is pure genius: we can keep Downey off coke, and eliminate drug dealers at the same time!
posted by Unxmaal at 4:54 PM on May 2, 2001

Addiction is a disease, a malfunction of brain chemicals.

so, what shall we blame on body chemisty next? pedophilia?

it's not really their fault! it's a disease and we should all have compassion for them!
posted by fuzzygeek at 4:59 PM on May 2, 2001

Wow, Unxmaal, I can't figure out if you're a troll, or just stupid. Maybe that's unfair. A troll, unfunny, or stupid.
We'll see, I guess.
And Fuzzygeek, if you think pedophilia and drug addiction..or even drug USE are similar, you're crazy. And clearly have had no personal experience with drugs.
posted by Doug at 5:02 PM on May 2, 2001

Doug --

But fuzzygeak does make a solid point: by referring to drug addiction only as a disease, we reduce the individual's responsibilty for his actions.

Even if one accepts the assumption that drug addiction is a disease, the person cannot become addicted without first trying the drug.
posted by jameschandler at 5:26 PM on May 2, 2001

This is the first discussion I've ever read wherein never having used drugs could be construed as a bad thing.
posted by kindall at 5:27 PM on May 2, 2001

Kindall, experience with drugs can be as simple as knowing people close to you who've used drugs. You don't have to do them, per se.
James, when people refer to it as a disease, they are saying that it must be treated as a disease. Not that it is acquired like one. Drug addiction isn't simply the result of weak will power. Only people who've never been addicted to a drug believe that.
But addiction and use are different.
Personal responsibility is one thing, but demanding that someone stop being addicted to a drug is about as effective as demanding a diabetic stop being diabetic.
posted by Doug at 5:44 PM on May 2, 2001

Doug, drug addiction is the result of weak will power. Not only do i know this from my own experience, but in my life i've been around enough drug users, of many different drugs to know you are wrong.

Even heroin users can kick the habit if they chooose, just like a certain female i've known for the past year.

I really cannot wait for the day when people stop referring to drug users as addicts. It is purely will power which stops me from not taking drugs during my working week, not because i am not ADDICTED.

I really hate the word addiction and anytime a drug user i know uses the term about their problem i slap them down as quick as possible so that they stop using that word as an excuse for being pathetic losers with no will power.

Thank you and good night.
posted by Zool at 6:08 PM on May 2, 2001

Doug, you're right, the whole drug issue and whether one should go to jail as a user in the first place should be discussed. All I said is that if there's no drugs in jail, the person will break their habit. When they get out, they can choose to start over, but it will be a choice that is not impacted by physiological dependency.

Overall, I have a problem with most laws, not just drug laws, as they carry punishments that are way too big for given crimes. If you have good defense, you're ok; if you don't, you are forced to settle out of court.
posted by Witold at 6:14 PM on May 2, 2001

I have a few questions about the War on some drugs-

If we can't keep drugs out of a maximum security prison, how are we ever going to keep them off the streets?

Why can a fifteen year old buy crystal meth easier than a pack of cigarettes?
posted by keithl at 6:21 PM on May 2, 2001

Witold, I see what you're saying, but there is still the issue of psychological addiction, and the environment that helped create that persons addiction.
Zool, you're absolutely correct. The reams of medical research detailing the physiological and psychological reasons for addiction to certain chemical substances is all incorrect, because you know of a woman who kicked heroin. I can now rest easy, and label drug addicts as weak losers, because they do something I don't do.
posted by Doug at 6:42 PM on May 2, 2001

Addiction is completely irrelevant to the drug war.

If it had anything to do with addiction, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine would be illegal. They're not.

If it had anything to do with addiction, THC, MDMA, and LSD would all be legal. But they're not.

Addiction is a red herring. There are patches, pills, or social programs for people who get addicted to legal drugs. We could do (and, in surprising moments of sanity, have done) the same for other drugs.

posted by Mars Saxman at 7:14 PM on May 2, 2001

Doug, have you ever tried any drugs yourself or are you just going on what you hear in the mass media?

If it's the former then you are a one of those weak willed people who cannot kick their habit, if you haven't then please stop spreading missinformation.

And for fuck's sake stop using the word ADDICTION, habit fits in much nicer and explains people like me, or am i just special.

There is nothing a persons mind cannot overcome.

If you don't have the will power to overcome your drug habit, then i have no sympathy for you.
posted by Zool at 7:49 PM on May 2, 2001


Are you suggesting that it's about money? Egad! I thought the people of Phillip Morris were working together to build a better future. Didn't you see that commercial about them sending aid to the folks in Kosovo? They care...wait is that a cartoon of Marburo mediums?!
posted by john at 7:50 PM on May 2, 2001

Mars Saxman: there are different levels of addiction. It's easier to get hooked on some drugs than on others, and the withdrawal symptoms vary as well.

Similarly, a person desparate for a smoke is probably still not willing to do what a heroin addict is willing to do for a shot. Or do you beg to differ?
posted by Witold at 8:48 PM on May 2, 2001

As a recovering alcoholic, I know it wasn't the 12th drink or the hundredth that got me drunk, it was the first. Once I started I could not stop, period. Whether it's from flamoozled brain chemistry or personal weakness, from moral bankruptcy or nefarious CIA instigators doesn't mean diddly to me. Pour me one drink and come back in a few days. That harm reduction program mentioned earlier is pure crap for a drunk like me. When I'm done drinking mine, I'll drink yours too, so you better not milk it.

No one wakes up one day and says, "I think I'll become and alcoholic today (or drug abuser)." Willpower did keep me sober through my mid-teens. Fear of parental intervention and all that. Had I known before I first experimented with booze that I was an alcoholic, perhaps willpower would have carried the day. I didn't, and it doesn't. Willpower against that first drink is like telling a man with diarrhea to hold it.

I am sober today, have been for eight years, but it isn't because I willed myself not to drink anymore. I had to change every cotton pickin' thing in my entire miserable existence. Piss on my friends, to hell with you golf course, bowling alley, ballpark, camping trips. No more apathy and spiritually empty shell. Hey, it sucked. God sucked. Self-righteous bastards sucked. I sucked.

There comes a turning point. Finally one day I crossed the line where my desire not to drink was stronger than my desire to drink. The same must be true for RDJ, the crack whore in the ghetto, the dime bag a day lawyer on Wall St. When that point is reached, the willingness of others of like mind to answer the scream for help is invaluable. If a drunk falls in the forest, does anybody hear?
posted by netbros at 9:22 PM on May 2, 2001

This could very well be the most pathetic MeFi thread I have ever had the misfortune to read. You all talk at each other but no one's listening. The drug issue on this planet has been going on for a very long time. The absurd "war on drugs" has been a rallying cry for conservatives since Ronald Reagan in the early 80s. At the very least it's been going on for over 20 years, but the use of mind-altering substances can be traced back thousands of years. Those with the wherewithal will continue using if they so choose. It is choice. It should not be illegal but it is. Making it illegal doesn't stop people from using. Just as people speed on the freeway, everybody thinks they can get away with it. And more often than not, they're right.

Any illegal activities done while under the influence of drugs should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Murder, theft, damage of property, assault, everything. I don't care if they're addicted. I don't care if it's a disease. I don't care that they couldn't control themselves at the time. I don't care if the drug is their lover. The link that started this thread is heart-wrenching, but it doesn't change the fact that each and every one of us are trapped on this spinning rock in space together, and every action or inaction has direct and indirect repercussions on other beings on this planet. Drugs may be a motive for crimes against one's fellow man, but that's all. Illegalizing drugs is a futile attempt to stop more serious crimes before they happen, and is as foolhardy as prohibition in the 1930s.

When you do drugs, you not only cause physical and psychological damage to yourself, but you affect those you love, and your actions can affect even complete strangers in detrimental ways. This is not opinion; it is fact, verified by countless evidence. These facts will not change anything. People will continue doing drugs. People will continue believing they can get away with it, and more often than not, in the short term, they are right. In the long term, it catches up to everyone eventually, but no one thinks it will happen to them. The bad crap is always what happens to the other guy until the bad crap happens to you.

Next time you see an episode of Ally McBeal with Downey and Flockhart on the same screen, you think about that. They're cut from the same cloth and the only difference between them is Downey got caught. The war on drugs is a war that can't be won. There are no winners. You're not gonna solve this problem in a MeFi thread.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:25 PM on May 2, 2001

Zool--you have a lot to learn. Your ignorance regarding will power is frightening. Bravo!! for not doing drugs during the work week. The fact that it takes will power for you NOT to do them might be food for thought. Most people who aren't addicts don't have to "will" themselves clean and sober until the weekend comes.
posted by Nancy66 at 9:54 PM on May 2, 2001

Zool, any more expertise on mental health you'd like to share? Sex addicts are perverts, suicidal people are cowards, and depressed people should just buck up and stop whining?

Addiction is not a failure of character. It is a complex problem where psychology, society, and biology are intricately combined. A propensity for addiction can be inherited, suggesting there is far more to it than mere will power.

Zach, drugs may indeed catch up with a lot of people, but by no means everyone. I know plenty of people who use drugs like caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, even marijuana, without experiencing the "bad crap" of which you speak. Overgeneralizations seem to be exactly what you're railing against, so why make them yourself?

As I'm sitting here I have quite a lot of alcohol in my apartment, from wine to vodka and exotic liqueurs. As it happens, I haven't had a drop to drink in over two weeks; I just kinda forget it's there. I'm glad for that. I know people for whom it isn't so easy.
posted by dhartung at 10:34 PM on May 2, 2001

A propensity for addiction can be inherited, suggesting there is far more to it than mere will power.

In addition, while it is commonly suggested there is the addictive personality, one who may substitute one addiction for another, that doesn't have to be the case. For example, in my youth I sampled nearly every drug available, including the most abusable narcotics. But I was able to put them down, they never were more than recreational. The booze, however, bit me. The highest priority in my life became where my next drink was coming from.

Again, I can't explain exactly why, and don't worry about it now, but something about alcohol triggered a reaction in me that narcotics did not. All the failed experiments at controlled drinking — only on weekends, never before noon, limiting myself to three drinks — were proof positive, to me at least, that I could not not drink.
posted by netbros at 10:54 PM on May 2, 2001

put him in a big room with all types of available drugs,girls,music,etc. then we all get to watch on television
posted by billybob at 4:15 AM on May 3, 2001

I thought Harry Browne's take on the controversy was really quite compelling. Although he does still buy the "addiction" concept.

I think I understand the issues at play pretty well, what with having quit smoking several months ago ("Quitting smoking is easy -- I've done it dozens of times." --Mark Twain). I have to say my feeling is definitely on the side of the "want to do it really bad" but that being powerless to control it? I mean, come on. If you're so powerless, how the hell did you stop? Obviously you aren't that powerless. For me, I just decided that I wasn't a smoker anymore. It was a necessary conclusion; smoking is a dirty, bad, stupid, careless, ugly, risky, and ultimately lethal habit. No matter how much I wanted the nicotine I HAD to stop. So, it wasn't much of an issue after I realized that.

It's absurd that the two drugs known to cause major tissue damage are legal while all the others that typically don't are not. It's hypocrisy, wasteful, and an unnecessary intrusion by government into lives. The net of social control expands every year because of this enormous albatross hung around the collective neck of the people.
posted by norm at 7:50 AM on May 3, 2001

Witold said:
Mars Saxman: there are different levels of addiction. It's easier to get hooked on some drugs than on others, and the withdrawal symptoms vary as well.

Sure. That's exactly what the article I linked to was discussing. It points out that nicotine is a very addictive substance in spite of the mildness of its high. It's very easy to get hooked on nicotine, and hard to quit. A nasty, dangerous drug indeed.

Similarly, a person desparate for a smoke is probably still not willing to do what a heroin addict is willing to do for a shot. Or do you beg to differ?

Of course not, but that's a silly comparison given the current state of drug law. Someone desperate for a smoke just has to walk into the nearest 7-11 and spend a few dollars. Or they can approach random strangers on the street and ask for one. There's no need for extreme measures.

Besides, this doesn't blunt my argument - if addictiveness is what matters, why are LSD, ecstasy, pot, shrooms, mescaline, etc. illegal? Even cocaine is less addictive than nicotine.

It has nothing to do with addiction. I would like to stop hearing people bring up addiction when the drug war is discussed, because it is completely irrelevant.

posted by Mars Saxman at 9:48 AM on May 3, 2001

Why can a fifteen year old buy crystal meth easier than a pack of cigarettes?

Cause it's easier to *manufacture* crystal meth than it is cigarettes.

I know that sounds silly, but think about it for a bit...
posted by baylink at 2:01 PM on May 3, 2001

Complete legalization of everything would be a lot better than what we have now. The drug BUSINESS is evil, resulting in missionaries getting shot out of the sky, Afghanis funding operations to destroy 1000-year-old staturary and mutilate women's genitals, and 14-year-old boys arming themselves with military firepower on city sidewalks.

All this is quite apart from the effect of the drugs themselves on people.

However, I think it would be better to restrict access to current legal drugs, notably tobacco and alcohol, and then apply the same rules to cocaine, heroin and other substances. I don't think dangerous substances should be advertised or promoted; on the contrary, the government and public health workers should discourage people from using any of them.

Alcohol and tobacco kill far more people in the U.S. than all the other drugs combined. However, the one "war on drugs" that we are actually winning is the education/propaganda war against cigarette smoking. The right weapons are commercials, press releases and educational programs--not fighter jets and police dogs.

Individuals have a right to drink, smoke and, I would submit, take other drugs. However, society, which pays the bills for county emergency rooms, cancer wards, lifetime nursing home care for brain-damaged victims of drunk drivers, also has an interest in minimizing substance abuse.

Norman Mailer once suggested facetiously that we legalize marijuana, but require it to be taken as an anal suppository, not smoked. I think he was actually more or less on the right track. I think the government should take the crime out of substance abuse, but also take the celebratory joy out of it as well.

Advertisements which make smoking look like part of a vigorous tennis match or which portray gross over-indulgence in beer as a way to have an attractive body and a healthy liver are obscene. This is as if someone were to run commercials encouraging people to sneeze in others' faces when they have strep throat--they are a grotesque affront to the health and welfare of U.S. citizens and should and could be outlawed.

People like poor Mr. Downey will probably take drugs forever--but let's see that he is not glamorized for it. His stories should not be front page news, any more than if he had a recurrent case of piles--and were using Mr. Mailer's prescription for it.
posted by steve_high at 5:00 PM on May 3, 2001

Stop blaming everything and everyone else on a person's drug problems.

If you have a habit that is fucking up your life it does not matter wether it's psychological or brain chemistry or whatever, it's you alone who can decide, shit i want to live or live better and you stop.

So maybe a rehab centre might help at first but you cannot keep going there for the rest of your life.

That is what i mean by will power.
posted by Zool at 7:49 PM on May 3, 2001

I don't agree with you Zool. Everyone knows someone who's managed to stop taking drugs, by themselves, sometimes cold turkey, over the space of a couple of weeks. Just like we all know (or know of) people who smoked 1 packet ++ per day the entire span of their lives and still managed to live lone enough to make a rollie out of the Queen Liz congratulatory letter. It doesn't make it easy (not that you said that) extreme drug addiction to certain classes of drugs is probably pure, unmitigated hell the like of which few people can even begin to imagine.

People have different chemistry and different lives and different pasts. They have a varied level of addiction (in these modern times, we call it "tolerance" don't we?)

Perhaps I do agree with you in a sense. I people should have legal sources of the drugs they are addicted to so that the rest of their lives aren't taken up by just the simple, basic need of having to find those drugs, find the means to buy those drugs. Drugs + Crime = Spiral.

When your life is taken up entirely be the all-encompassing need to find drugs, then how can you even start to find a moment in that time to even contemplate the idea of getting off them? The things that society hates about drug addicts, is mostly the crime. (I'm sure that we all hate the loss of productive lives, as well, but you don't tend to hear about that aspect so much, not usually) If we started to treat drug users as adults, gave them a legal source whereby they can access a safe, humane alternative to street drugs, then there's no reason why all of these other factors (crime, malnutrition, illness, poverty, separation from family and friends) even has to occur.

...And perhaps, they will live long enough, feel secure enough, to finally want to get off drugs themselves, in their own time, in a way that they have some input in.

Of course, if they wish to do a William Burroughs, then far be it from me to get all moralistic about that.

Will power is all very fine and good, but we don't know if RDJ even wants to get off drugs. Without this wish, then willpower means nothing (I'm sure he's stated that he wishes to "go clean" many times to the popular press, as the result of the law and public attitudes catching up with him...but really, does he? would he?)

It's really difficult to take a case that involves a high-profile Hollywood star and make it mean anything to the vast masses of ordinary people from all walks of life who have problems with legal or illegal drugs. The really significant point here is that it can happen to anyone. Yes you can think you are too strong, too informed, too clever, but then you say that when you are all of those things. The future generally holds things for all of us that will test those theories.

I just hope that RDJ stays alive long enough to get the underlying problems in his life sorted out. The drugs are a problem for him sure, but it's not the main problem he has, because if it was, then all of his money and contacts would be able to help him, he would be able to help himself, and so far, they haven't, and he can't.
posted by lucien at 10:44 PM on May 3, 2001

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