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Drug Addicts in TV shows

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Technology' started by Devil Dave, Feb 1, 2020.

  1. Devil Dave

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    Maybe I'm being insensitive and ignorant, but I always get bored when a storyline in a TV show comes up about drug addiction.

    In The Haunting of Hill House there was an entire episode about the youngest sibling going in and out of rehab and it was the most boring thing I'd ever sat through.

    In Dare Devil, I thought Karen Page was an awesome character, until they finally showed the flashback episode about her "mysterious past" which turned out to be her drug addcition when she was younger. Yawn.

    Even in Vikings, Ragnar becomes addicted to Chinese medicine.

    Again, maybe I'm being ignorant, because as a child I was told "drugs are bad" so I grew up never feeling tempted, so when I see a character on TV taking a substance that is bad for them, I don't feel any sympathy for them.

    If anyone does find drug addiction stories in TV shows interesting, and if there are any that you think have been handled particualrly well, I'd be interested to know.
     
  2. LaurenSkye

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    I agree with you on that. I have no sympathy for drug addicts real or fictional.
     
  3. Chip

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    I suspect if either of you had worked with or been friends with people with substance use disorders, you would have a different perspective. Substance use disorders are a mental health issue that, from the best research we have, is caused as a complex interaction of genetics, environment, but most importantly, the experiences a child has in the first two or three years of life in his or her environment. The person with the substance use disorder can no more control their ability to use drugs than the person with Tyhpe I diabetes can control their need for insulin.

    As for the 'drugs are bad, don't do them' argument, many people have their first introduction to drugs from appropriate administration, such as someone having surgery and needing opiates to manage the pain during recovery. An individual who does not have an SUD will have no problem coming off of the opiates post surgery; for the person with a SUD, the need and craving for the drug is just as strong (or stronger) than food or water.

    I've worked with people in this population. There are a significant number of folks here at EC who currently have, or hvae struggled with, substance use disorders. All of them desperately want to be free of their dependency, but it isn't always easy.

    I really hope that the two of you never have to be subjected either personally or through friends or relatives to what it is like to live with an SUD. While I've never had the problem myself, I've worked with enough folks who have to understand and have enormous compassion and empathy for them.
     
  4. Devil Dave

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    Thanks for the input. So, are there any TV shows that you think have dealt with issues of drug abuse well?
     
  5. Chip

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    As tacky as it sounds, Celebrity Rehab was actually somewhat realistic in its portrayal of the complexity of working with people with substance use disorders. And back then, Drew Pinsky was a marvelous, dedicated doctor who deeply cared about his patients. There are others but not that come to mind offhand.

    There are a number of films that depict addiction pretty well. One of the better ones is Beautiful Boy. (That movie is based on a book by the same name, written by Nic Sheff's father David. There's a counterpart book written by Nic. Both are worth reading). There's another movie, with Sandra Bullock, called "28 Days" that's worth looking at.

    That's what comes to mind right off the bat. I'll think about others.
     
  6. LaurenSkye

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    That is true and I do sympathize with people who become addicted to prescription pain killers, but those who do become addicted have to speak up to their doctor before it becomes more serious. And doctors have to communicate with their patients to determine if they have a problem and if treatment is needed. I was on prescription pain killers two years ago after breaking my leg. When I left the hospital, the doctor sent me home with a prescription for a 10 day supply of pain killers and said that if I needed any more I had to see him before he would approve any more. After about two weeks, I had stopped taking the prescriptions and switched two an OTC pain reliever. I still had about a third of the original bottle left.
     
  7. Chip

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    I don't think you understand how addiction works. First, with opiates in particular, you may not even know you have a physical dependency until you try to quit. Second, the nature of how the addiction process develops in those prone to is is such that, psychologically, they don't even realize what's happening. Third, all drugs of addiction act on the dopamine reward center in the brain and literally hijack the reason centers. The option of 'simply speaking up to their doctor' is not nearly as simple as it sounds. Fourth, there is enormous shame associated with acknowledging a problem, in large part because of attitudes like yours, which are incredibly ignorant and judgmental of a very complicated and difficult problem.

    While doctors could do better with screening, 95% of them (number pulled out of the air) do not have the understanding of the origin of addiction to understand the complexity of factors to appropriately screen for risk. And even if they do, there is no reliable way to accurately determine who will or will not have risk of addiction.

    Like you, I was in the hospital. Except my hospitalization was close to 6 weeks, and I was on high doses of opiates for most of it. Also like you, I was fortunate enough to have no problem coming off of them, and had a significant unused supply at the point I went off them, and I did not even need OTC pain killers. Knowing my family history, I was very concerned, but did not have any issues. However, other people, who might have a very similar-appearing story to mine, might, because of the way their brain developed, have a near-instant, practically uncontrollable need to continue taking opiates as soon as they take them for the first time, or very soon after. There's no way of telling in advance. From what we now understand, some individuals have what appears to be a biochemical switch in the brain which, once flipped on, is impossible to flip off. That might be after one exposure, or 100 exposures to the drug.

    It is the very attitude you are showing here, which is common to folks who do not understand the nature of addiction, that is one of the single biggest contributors to the problem: People have the issue, and are incredibly ashamed and fearful of the sort of attitude and judgment they get from people like you that they find it very difficult to acknowledge the problem and get help. And even when they get help, again, in large part because of the stigma coming from people with your perspective, it is difficult to find support and get the help that they need.

    IF we want to solve the problem, we can first let go of judgment, acknowledge the origins of the problem in early childhood development of the brain, and then show the folks struggling with these issues the compassion and connection and kindness that they need in order to neurochemically rewire and heal their brains. That is the only way, long-term, to solve the problem.
     
  8. Lin1

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    I am lucky enough that I don't have an addictive personality and I am so grateful for it (not saying I couldn't ever become an addict as one never knows), but I don't look down on people who do.

    Euphoria is a very good show regarding addiction. When the season started I felt the same way about Rue (main teenage character who just come out of rehab after an overdose) who obviously isn't willing to give up her addiction and ''how selfish of her'', then it digs into her past and the past of other character and then suddenly you understand how they can be in the situation they are in, they are still doing things maybe I wouldn't do but it becomes easier to understand why they took the path they did.

    Sometimes addiction comes from doctor failing their patients leaving them addicted to Opioids, sometimes it stems from trauma or having to survive harsh conditions. Unless you live in a house with abusive parents, an alcoholic dad who rapes you every night as a child or someone who prostitute you at a young age or out in the street it might be hard to understand someone using drug but if one stop to think, I think it's easy to understand why some people would just escapism throughout the mean of drugs.

    I am lucky that in my most desperate moments I never felt the urge for drugs but I definitely don't feel superior for not being an addict. Addiction is so complex and looking down at the struggle of addiction and acting like it's someone's fault for being an addict is akin to pointing at an homeless person and saying '' you obviously didn't work hard enough to end up in the streets'', it's nothing to be proud of.
    Feel lucky you find addiction boring and not relatable, for some addiction is their life and a lifelong struggle to remain clean and I think shows that represent people having a life despite addiction is needed.


    Anyhow watch Euphoria, it is very intense there are queer characters and queer actors and it's a very good show overall and especially about addiction.
     
  9. Ryu

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    As somebody who has had a complicated relationship with drugs, and is friends with people that still do, euphoria tackles it brilliantly in my opinion. The opening of the first episode talking about Rue and her history of mental illness, death of close one's and substance use hit so close to home for me it's ridiculous. It's true, that when you have all these things going on in your head all the time, even just a second of silence, where everything stops and you just exist in space is truly euphoric, and in that moment you forget about all the risks that it can entail.
    As much as I love Timothee chalamet, I haven't been able to bring myself to watch beautiful boy yet, because it looks way to real for me. I've seen the trailers and even in those I see conversations, arguments, I've had with my own parents, and honestly don't know if I'd be able to cope with watching the whole film.
    I think if you haven't had problems with drugs, or are close with people that have, a lot of these plots can seem pointless, more of the same 'drugs are bad don't do them' rhetoric, but I think if you have had these experiences, if done right, can be insanely powerful.
     
  10. Kyrielles

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    The only thing I find not interesting about drug addiction in movies and shows is generally how inaccurate it is. It's usually definitely worse than it's portrayed. As someone who grew up in a drug ravaged community with drug addicted parents I could never ever say I have no sympathy for drug addicts and the other victims who suffer from the drug abuse. I have witnessed firsthand the entire cycle.

    As a teen growing up in a bad community and having easy access to drugs I even experimented myself, and i did enjoy it. For me it was an escape from reality and a fun time with friends. But luckily for me I never became addicted and eventually got away from those friends. Those friends I speak of now are literally all either addicted or dead from their addiction. I know tons of people who have overdosed and died, who have died from issues stemming from drug use, and even people who have taken their lives because of their addiction, either because they were withdrawing from drugs or they couldn't escape their addiction so they chose another way. I have witnessed people who I never in my life thought would become addicted transform before my very eyes. And that is just some things about the addicts, I've not even mentioned the other victims of addiction. Children, siblings, parents, grandparents, strangers. So many people become victims, whether it's abuse, or crimes (burglary, robbery, vehicular, etc.) And in my opinion having grown up with drug addicted parents the children are the most overlooked victims of this problem.

    Movies and television shows never seem to go into too much depth on drug addiction, and really if they did it would be an entire movie/show because it's a lot. I do agree with other people above that Euphoria is probably a show that comes to mind when thinking of one. You kind of get an inside look on the life, thoughts, and experiences of someone who is addicted, and get a better understanding of how that addiction began. Because although some people do become addicted because of their addictive personalities, most addicts have had horrible life experiences, mental issues, and other things that have led to their drug use and ultimately their addiction. And the healthcare industry and government have done a horrible job at helping and addressing the issue.

    Sounds like to me Devil Dave that you're somewhat privileged and that's a good thing, you should be thankful. But to say that addiction is boring, you have no sympathy, and that you never used because you were like "drugs are bad", tells me that you have no comprehension of addiction at all. Maybe read some factual information/statistics about addiction and victims, and watch some documentaries and you'll get a better understanding.
     
  11. Devil Dave

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    I did literally start my original post with "maybe I'm being ignorant and insensitive" and asked people for their opinions and for well made examples of drug related stories.

    The only interaction I've had with drug addicts in real life are the crackheads who were stealing from the shop where I was working, and would abuse me when I told them to get out. I'm certainly not going to feel any sympathy for them, because no matter how tragic their personal lives might have been, I did not deserve the abuse they gave me, and I ended up quitting a job because I felt unsafe working in an environment where I could have a confrontation with those people at any minute.
     
  12. Shorthaul

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    If it is used to develop a character or drive the story and fits the narrative, than it is alright. But just to toss it out there for shock value than no interest.

    And Devil Dave my experience with drug users is pretty much the same, only I'm big enough they didn't directly confront me, but I did have to call the police on them a few times. Thought some dude was laying in an alley way dead until the truck I was driving made enough noise to spook him out of his high and sent him running.
     
  13. Chip

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    So because you are inconvenienced by someone who is in severe mental and physical emotional pain because s/he (according to statistics) suffered horrifying abuse/neglect in his or her childhood... abuse that likely would have killed you or driven you to suicide... and you were privileged enough to grow up in an environment where you did not have the traumas and neglect that they suffered, you feel absolutely no compassion for them.

    Wow. You're definitely the sort of person I would feel comfortable going to talk to if I had some difficulties in my life. /sarcasm
     
  14. Devil Dave

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    It's particularly horrible when you're telling them to get out of the shop because they are banned, and they won't leave. I'm not going to try to physically remove someone from the premise, because even if I did overpower them, whose to say they won't come back later with a bunch of friends or a weapon? If things did get violent, I'm more likely to be arrested, because I'm the one wearing a unifrom who is assigned to be there at that time, much easier for the police to catch me.

    Oh yes, I felt incredibly privileged when I was being called vile names and shouted at by crackheads who were making my work life hell to the point that I quit my job, and contacted victim support because I was laying awake most nights reliving these confrontations, imagining myself being reported in the local newspaper as the victim of a beating, imagining my parents getting a phone call saying their son has been put in hospital, or my sister telling my nieces and nephews that their uncle has been injured or arrested defending himself from a bunch of weirdos high on drugs. Just because I have a wonderful family who cares about me, I totally deserve to be harassed by people less privileged than I am. /sarcasm.

    There is a slight difference between someone reaching out to me for emotional support during a difficult time, and someone abusing me and making me feel unsafe when I'm trying to earn a living.
     
  15. Lin1

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    Not to say that those guys were justified in verbally abusing you, as obviously verbal abuse is totally not okay/ completely uncalled for but the fact that you felt that you felt traumatized by verbal abuse to the point that you had to reach out to victim support and quit your job (which in itself is only something people with a certain safety net can afford to do) to try and forget about the “abuse” but yet feel no sympathy for people who need to resort to drugs to forget about their own (much more drastic) abuse does scream privilege unfortunately.

    I am not saying you should put up with abuse but I am saying that people who haven’t had a loving family like you do and have only known abuse are more likely to end up being abusive and abusing substances, it doesn’t mean you should be on the receiving end of their abuse, but if you have felt so traumatized by verbal abuse and your interactions with drug addicts/homeless people, you could probably find it in you to sympathize with how physical, sexual, mental and lack of basic nurturing from family members can probably fuck someone up, and find it in you to understand that while their behavior is unacceptable, they probably are also dealing with traumas that may be why they are where they are in life and a little sympathy vs judgment could go a long way.

    you stayed up at night thinking about what could have happened if things had escalated and you ended up in jail or in hospital (which didn’t happen and were just supposed scenarios in your mind) but try and think that for these people it’s most likely a reality where they often get abused and beat up and end up in jail or hospital and they don’t even have a bed to lie in to reflect on it.

    I am glad I am not an addict, I hate how people become when they are addicted BUT, I can still have sympathy and understanding for how people end up in those situations.

    you have a loving family, a house, a job, and apparently the worst abuse you have suffered are those interactions with those people. Now try and imagine a world where your family is abusive or simply dead, where you lose your job, or maybe your home and where abuse is a part of your daily life, can’t you imagine thinking about drinking or taking substances or even worse to try and get away from it all? And if it happened would you want sympathy or judgment for what you are going through and the choices you are making?
     
    #15 Lin1, Feb 25, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
  16. Devil Dave

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    Of course I think its sad that people end up having these sorts of lives. If I had no compassion whatsoever, I wouldn't have tried to deal with them in a reasonable manner before being abused by them. I didn't swear at them and chase them out of the shop with a stick, I was telling them to leave, and they were refusing, and I ended up calling the police. Me having sympathy for these people does no good. They didn't come to me for sympathy or compassion, they came to my workplace to commit crimes, and then subject me to abuse when I didn't let them get away with it. It would be very easy for me to read a story about a drug user causing trouble and say "oh, that poor person must have been through some horrific experiences to end up acting in that manner" but if its me on the receiving end, or a member of my family, then I'm sure you understand where my priorities lie.

    A bit off topic now, but I will also say that these drug addicts were not entirely to blame for me feeling traumatized and leaving my job, a lot of it was the fault of my employers, because I did arrange a meeting with two company managers to discuss how to increase my safety in case another event occurs (either increasing staff or reducing trade hours or even just installing more cameras), and they offered me no solution whatsoever and just expected me to put up with it. So it wasn't just the druggies and thieves that made me leave my job, it was untrustworthy management as well.
     
  17. Chip

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    That's a true statement.

    'Sympathy' is "I'm sorry this is happening to you." As a friend said "Sympathy is between shit and syphillis in the dictionary and that sums it up."

    Empathy, on the other hand, absolutely helps. Empathy says "I understand the place you've been in. I may not have been there, but I can imagine a similar situation within myself and find the compassion to understand why you are doing what you are doing." And when you interact with empathy, you connect with the other person, you change your own perspective, and ultimately, you feel differently, and often the other person is also able to change as well.

    No, they came to your workplace to meet some need that they had in a dysfunctional and ineffective way, but a way that is, nonetheless, the best they are able to muster at that moment, perhaps for a variety of reasons.

    Because they only knew, in that moment, the one option to meet their need. And you interfered with it. So their needs weren't being met, and they lashed out.

    Was the way they were acting appropriate? No.

    Should you have let them get away with it? No.

    Could it have been handled better? Perhaps.

    Of course you have to protect the business you work for. That's reasonable. And setting appropriate boundaries ("It's not OK to steal that") is also reasonable. The thing is, everyone deserves a level of kindness. Maybe they can't take it, maybe it won't be effective, maybe it won't stop them. But sometimes -- maybe often -- it does. And in that moment, maybe they learn that there might be other options.

    If we all took a moment to think this way in situations like this, the world would be a much better place.

    Can we all do it all the time? No. I certainly can't. But I'm aware of that, and continue to try and do better.

    Calling the police is reasonable. Asking them to leave the store is reasonable. Being yelled at sucks, and it isn't reasonable for you to have to take that, especially if you feel physically threatened. The key is, however, recognizing that these folks are doing the best they can with what they have, they have wounds that are so bad that drugs are the only thing that make their lives work, and they've basically been abandoned by society and are trying their best. If we look at it through that lens, perhaps we can have more compassion.

    Sure. And if you consider that these folks could just as easily be your family members (because they could be), perhaps you can find a little more compassion for them in your heart.

    And that's a really crucial piece. Pretty appalling that a situation like that happens and your employers show no interest in your safety. That really tells you everything about your employers and how much they care about your well being vs. the cost of implementing some safety precautions. I think you absolutely made the right decision to leave.
     
    #17 Chip, Feb 26, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
  18. OGS

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    I know this thread has gone pretty far afield from asking for TV recommendations, but I thought Nurse Jackie was a great show and that the depiction of the drug addiction of the main character, which ran the duration of the show (seven seasons), was rather compelling. I don't know how realistic or unrealistic it was but it felt realistic and I thought made for great television.
     
  19. Loves books

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    Personally if I was face to face with someone who was currently on drugs and acting irrationally my first thought wouldn’t be kindness and empathy it would be how to escape quickly and safely. I do feel empathy for addicts and I understand how it can happen but I would also be terrified of what a mind altering substance could make them do.
     
  20. Batman

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    I tend to rather enjoy these storylines in shows, when it's done well.

    I honestly find it fascinating how much empathy and support people struggling with alcoholism tend to get, but how vilified harder drug use tends to be. I remember driving around a bit of a run-down residential late at night, while stopped at a stop sign someone clearly not sober started banging on my car, yelling, and trying to get in. That was pretty scary for me at the time, and made me extremely cautious of people struggling with addiction for a while.

    Now that I've lived in a town with very high rate of drug-abuse for a few years, I just try to be polite, chat a bit if they come up to me, offer any change I have and a light. If they've given me no genuine reason to be afraid, then I have no reason to treat them different than any other stranger. I imagine it must be very difficult going through addiction and trying to improve your life, when people won't even treat you like a human.

    Drug addiction isn't very simple.
     
    #20 Batman, Feb 28, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020