Let’s start with can others cure us from our addiction. There are three things that people try, love, education and punishment. We try to love someone out of their addiction. We try to educate and we try to punish. They don’t work. They do not work for appendicitis. They do not work for diabetes and they do not work for addiction.
It’s very difficult for people to hear that. It’s difficult for us to hear it as addicts. Because we believe that people should stop punishing us, they should understand us, they should love us. We should learn from clever people exactly what we have got to do and then everything will be fine.
So we believe in love, education and punishment. Our families believe in love, education and punishment. They particularly believe that they could love us out of recovery and we tell them, yes you could. You can love me better than you do. You can give me understanding, more money, more this, more that.
If you really loved me, I wouldn’t be an addict. The government believes it. They believe in particularly in education. They give around pamphlets and, you know, this is addiction, this is what you need to do as if we were stupid. As if we didn’t know that for ourselves. They’re teaching us what we already know.
This is the John Cleese approach to therapy. It’s the bleeding obvious. Of course we know what’s addictive, that’s why we take it. What we don’t know is how to stop it and stay stopped. So there’s a lot of punishment in addiction as well.
People finish up in prison as a result of doing criminal acts because of their addiction. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t, I do believe that people should be given the consequences of their behaviour. But I am concerned that eighty per cent of the prison population have addiction problems and there are no significant addiction treatment programs in prisons, now that’s crazy.
If we got the people there because of the consequences and we know that sixty per cent of criminal will be recidivous. They’ll go back again and again and again. Surely the best treatment program would be one that’s in the prison.
Now I would like to see things done before people ever get to prison. I’d like to see things done with young children so that we can identify those who have an addictive tendency and help them so they never have to go to prison. But I think if people do go to prison, we simply must try to help them when they’re there.
So love, education and punishment doesn’t work. All the things that we try to do simply don’t work for addiction. As I’ve said they don’t work with appendicitis. They don’t work for diabetes. We just have to recognize that this doesn’t go down that route. It goes down the route entirely of its own.
So I’ll put up the three things that do work, love, education and punishment. The love that helps an addict to get better is not the love that we give to the addict. It’s the love that the addict gives to someone else. It is the process of being loving that is curative. When we take our minds off ourselves we reach out to help another addict, then we feel good and it’s that principle, that love that actually helps people to get better.
The education is not the education that people give on drugs or alcohol, whatever. We know that stuff. [3:52 unclear] goes into a school and says, “This is a bit of Moroccan Black” What do you think we don’t know that? You think the children don’t know that? They’ve used more Moroccan Black than he has. They know where to buy it. They know exactly where it came from. They know the difference between skunk and weed. It’s crazy why are we telling them things they already know. Why are we telling them things about the content, the alcohol content in particular drinks. They know that.
Why do we say, bulimia isn’t good for you it’ll rot your teeth, it’ll cause you stomach problems. They know that. That sort of education doesn’t work. The education that does work, is talking about addictive disease and recovery.
When I was speaking at Harrows school last week there were about three or four hundred of the pupils there, I said, “I’m not going to talk to you about drugs. You know about drugs. I’m not going to dare to compete with you and your knowledge of that. I’m going to talk about addiction because you don’t know about that. I know about that. You don’t. I know how we get better, how you can identify people with addictive behavior. I can help them out of that. That’s my field. I do know about that. That I think is helpful. That it’s that type of education on addictive disease and recovery from it that I think is constructive.
And the punishment that works is not the punishment that we give to somebody else. It’s the punishment they give to themselves. It’s when they say, “I just don’t want to be like this anymore.” That’s the punishment. And what happens? The chap’s on the floor so we tread on him. That is not the right thing of doing. You don’t need to humiliate someone who’s already in despair.
The suicide rate of people with addictive disease is immense. The Samaritan reckons that thirty per cent of suicide rates are from alcoholics alone. It’s also been estimated that ninety-five per cent of all suicides are in people with addiction of one kind or another.