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Many of the reports about addiction or alcoholism we see in the media are overtly negative. Whether it’s some Lohanian starlet making poor choices or reports of criminal acts committed by people under the influence of dangerous drugs, the effect of much addiction news coverage is that the public continues to believe that people who suffer from addiction are public nuisances who pose some type of threat to the fabric of their lives. It’s for this very reason that we should take a moment to praise those who are helping to change the narrative surrounding substance abuse, addiction, and recovery.
One of the most recent addiction-related headlines brings light to yet another Hollywood actor who has been struggling with a substance abuse problem. This time, it’s Verne Troyer — perhaps most well-known for portraying Dr. Evil’s pint-sized clone ‘Mini Me’ in the 1999 Austin Powers sequel — releasing a statement on Facebook in which he admits to currently being in treatment for alcoholism. In addition to the revelation, Troyer offers his thanks to those who offer their support.
Symptoms of alcoholism withdrawal
The news surrounding Verne Troyer’s need for alcoholism rehabilitation comes just a couple weeks after similar reports that announced Ben Affleck had just received treatment for the same thing. In both cases, Troyer, age 48, and Affleck, age 44, are extremely — and uncharacteristically — candid about a matter that most would prefer to keep private. However, this shows just how much the conversation surrounding addiction is changing. Rather than the only coverage being extremely negative, we’re seeing more and more reports in which addiction is discussed or mentioned in a neutral, matter-of-fact manner, which is extremely refreshing and bodes well for the future.
In the aforementioned Facebook post, Troyer explains that alcoholism is a problem with which he has dealt in the past and which remains an ongoing struggle for him. Although vague on the details leading up to his decision to return to treatment, Troyer explains that he has been receiving treatment for the past week and will soon be transferring to a different facility to continue and finish this round of treatment. Bringing his post to a close, Troyer expressed gratitude to those who had shown concern for him and asserted his confidence that he will regain control of his alcoholism so that he can continue to live a healthy, productive life.
Some of the best help comes from those who have fought addiction
Addiction is something that’s difficult to understand and empathize with if you’ve not actually experience it. Of course, that doesn’t mean only those who have personally had substance abuse problems can gain insight into addiction or contribute to the overall recovery initiative, but without some level of experience with addiction — either having overcome a substance abuse problem oneself or having had a loved one with a substance abuse problem — a person would need to take the initiative to become more informed about the disease. In fact, lack of understanding is probably one of the biggest contributors to the addiction stigma, but another reason why experience with addiction can be important is when it comes to recovery.
One of the main differences between clinical rehab programs and support groups is the type of help that each offers. In clinical programs, you receive treatments that are implemented by trained, educated professionals who may or may not have firsthand experience with the disease. Meanwhile, support groups are often peer-run, which means that they’re usually run by members of the groups. While it’s difficult to compare psychotherapy and other clinical, evidence-based treatments to support groups, there have been millions upon millions of people who have gotten sober and achieved lasting recovery after jumping into support groups with both feet. But how can support groups be so effective when they don’t seem to offer actual treatments?
The likely answer to this predicament seems to be the concept of peer-run support groups. From the perspective of someone who is in active addiction, the advice of someone who has personally experienced and overcome addiction would seem to be more valid than the advice of someone who learned about addiction from a textbook. In fact, there are some who say that some of the best and most effective advice for overcoming addiction comes from those who have overcome addiction themselves.
In a way, this seems obvious: Put those who know what works and what doesn’t in front of others who are in need of help for addiction. On the other hand, these individuals often lack the clinical and educational background that professionals running rehabs almost always have. But that doesn’t seem to be keeping them from making a huge impact of the field of addiction recovery. It’s becoming more and more common for ex-addicts to become involved in addiction treatment programs in some way once they’ve spend a sufficient period of time in stable recovery. Many of these individuals decide to become addictions counselors because they feel that their experiences will make up for their lack of formal education and training, plus, their own experiences in recovery provide immense value to those who are embarking on recovery themselves.
Although many of us assume that we would want professionals leading our recoveries, it’s worth noting that the growing presence of recovered addicts in the addiction rehabilitation field suggests that there’s much value in their experiences. In short, they’re turning their experiences into valuable aid to those who are just embarking on the process with which the ex-addicts are intimately familiar.