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So You Want to Write About Addicts

Published date : October 14, 2018

At its finest, addict lit satiates our darkest human yearning for stories that may lead to salvation. We need warm fuzzies. We need candy, sweet, salvation. Who has the right to tell the enthusiast's story? How can a writer dip their plume to the well of a enthusiast's pain without having been ther-

Who has the right to tell the addict’s story? How can a writer dip their plume into the well of an addict’s pain without having been there herself?

. We need warm fuzzies. We need candy, sweet, salvation. Who has the right to tell the enthusiast's story? How can a writer dip their plume to the well of a enthusiast's pain without having been there herself? We started each morning of home treatment with burned muffins, a home meeting, and introductions. "My name is Tom and I am a junkie here on vacation. My aim now is to lay in the sun and sample the delicious food in this all-inclusive resort" Tom's sarcasm produced orange juice squirt out of my nose. Humor was an elixir for the boredom of early revival and monotony of the rehabilitation center's rigorous daily program. Our dependence counselor adjusted Tom:"You will need to take this seriously. I want you to redo that and tell us your real goal for today." The narrative that society tells about dependence is just one of tragedy. When we talk about addicts, we all discuss pain, drama, along with heartbreak. Needless to say, dependence is all these things, but it's also a wealthy, multi-faceted story with humor and joy. As soon as we let addiction define the joys of a human being's presence, we flatten people to one-dimensional caricatures. The story that society tells about my favorite tragic hero Kurt Cobain is a choice example; his sense of comedy gets buried beneath his own pain. The media glosses over portions of his character, like how he wore clothing on his wedding and a puffy-sleeved, yellow dress to some heavy metal series on MTV. Fourteen days after Nirvana released Nevermind, that they pranked the Renowned British show Top of the Pops. If you want to write about dependence, bear in mind that two apparently contradictory things can be true at precisely the exact same moment. Addicts could be both funny and tragic. While I really like satire, I also understand why we do not wish to reduce the seriousness of dependence. Addicts suffer. Addicts bleed. Addicts, such as Cobain, expire too young. In the movie, we were strung out like Christmas lights. He pushes a tuft of blonde hair out of my head. Sam's strumming his acoustic guitar singing"Needle and The Hay" by Elliot Smith, a timeless junkie song. I am taking the treatment / Therefore I'm silent whenever I want. He hands me a bass guitar, but I can not hold it. My limbs go awry. Thunk. The maple-neck, cherry wood bass crashes into the floor. Therefore leave me lonely / You ought to be proud that I'm getting great marks. The bass does not break, but I really do. I try to pick this up, but my body slumps to a question mark. I seem like a bobble head doll, together with glassy eyes that are blue. Opiate eyes. Open and closed. Haunting thing. Sam quits singing. "Are you ok? Tessa, did you choose Klonopin this afternoon?" Shut. Wake up!" "I am fiiiinnnneeee," I mumble because my light skin turns blue. I wouldn't be nice for decades. * When I heard there was likely to become an opioid overdose memorial, I was doubtful. When Andrew Sullivan christened a non-addict"Poet Laurette of this opioid epidemic," at a New York Magazine informative article, I was doubtful. But not surprised. Never surprised. I'm skeptical since I have been devouring novels, essays, documentaries, and films about the opioid outbreak for decades, charting their own predictable rhetoric, cliché story arcs, and stigmatizing portrayal of addicts: addicts as cautionary tales, sign fires, propellers such as play. We are reluctant to color outside those lines, to demonstrate the methods in which addicts contain multitudes. I wear distrust just like a casing. It seems safer than becoming exposed. My disbelief asks questions like: who has the right to tell the enthusiast's story? How will a writer dip their plume into the well of the addict's pain without even having been there herself? How do we do justice to enthusiasts as well as the addiction story? If you would like to write about addicts, then you first need to familiarize yourself with the conventions and formula of the"enthusiast lit" genre. Human beings are intrigued by conflict and play. We are all complicit. I am, also. Despite the fact that I have been clean for numerous years and understand I should not be gawking, I really do. Although I feel like they exploit people's pain for amusement, I still watch shows such as Intervention along with Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew. These reveals jolt us from the doldrums of our own lives or, if we are addicts ourselves, they reassure us that we aren't alone. We observe from a safe distance, together with all the luxury of returning to the comfort of our own cocoons. In its best, addict lit satiates our darkest human longing for stories which may result in salvation. We want warm fuzzies. We need sweet, sweet, salvation. * If you want to write a narrative concerning the opioid outbreak, then you need to envision how addicts thirst for tales that represent us, encourage compassion, and truly feel believable. We long for stories to be our anchors and buoys to help keep us afloat. Unfortunately, some stories sink. The Prescribed to Death Memorial is a dehumanizing collapse. When I died of an apology, I wouldn't want my face carved on a pill. I've spent my entire life being pushed out. Instead, I'd love to understand what it feels like to become whole. Steve Greene of all Indie Wire compliments the series. The Trade"does not seem like a corrective or any magical key to unlocking the problem. However, as a way for empathy and also a way to understanding the human price at each step of an global heroin trade, it will far more than hollow words and shallow guarantees." Each incident shifts between three major narrative arcs: a Mexican drug cartellaw enforcement, regulation enforcement, and teenagers and their families. It is technically well-made, with sharp cinematography and juxtapositions like masked members of this cartel protecting poppy areas in Mexico as kids play in the road; a grieving mother and father at a memorial rally in Ohio flying hints that state,"Hope Not Dope." However, the series was predictable and flat. The addict's story arc of The Trade is an easy five-part magnificent structure. From the exposition, we see snowy middle-class youthful adults are prescribed painkillers to get a sports injury or surgery. As their physical addiction develops, they want more and more to manage their pain. In the climax, they switch to heroin since it is more affordable and occasionally easier to see than painkillers. They drop deep into the well of addiction. They then go to rehab or they do not. Cut. End scene. Glue movie critic Amy Glynn says it was"harmful by a watchability perspective...Junkies do not make decent television since they are really, very damned boring. They're uninteresting, since heroin turns most people into zombie reptiles who are deeply depressed and profoundly depressing." At first, I was taken aback by this quote. However, Glynn has some stage. If you would like to write concerning the opioid epidemic, you might want to do more than rely on pain porn. The verse of a needle diving into the crook of a junkie's arm, then red swirling into the plunger. Junkies drifting through public roads like zombies. Glynn redeems herself:"Someone should start telling the remainder of the narrative. Like now." * If you want to compose a story about addicts, you need to understand that it is nevertheless a stigmatized condition. My friend had to leave a despair group because other parents said her son's overdose death was his fault and not as gloomy as a kid who died of cancer. It's like despair was a sort of competition of suffering and pain. However an whole super bowl stadium could be filled with dead bodies such as her son. There were 64,000 overdose deaths in america in 2016. If you would like to write a story about enthusiasts, you need to understand that life threatening medication-assisted-treatments like Suboxone and methadone are still pricey and hard to access. Unfortunately, many treatment centers have been"abstinence-only," meaning they do not let their patients to choose Suboxone or methadone. * Along with these dire truth, we must handle our stories being exploited. Input the poet William Brewer, who has never used opioids or struggled with addiction . Brewer inhabits the voice of addicts within his poetry book, that I Know Your Kind. The name derives from a Cormac McCarthy quote, but it is very clear to me Brewer doesn't"understand my kind." I don't need to be harsh on Brewer. Being from the considerate Midwest where we are supposed to avoid confrontation, I almost deleted this component. However, Brewer's words feel as a chisel mining people's pain. I also feel it's my responsibility as a recovering addict and writer to call it as I see it. Brewer writes lines such as:"Tom's hand on the desk seemed like hot bread. I smashed it with a hammer, then walked him to the E.R. to evaluate pills" and"Who will stand another night stealing fistfuls of pills out of our cancer-sick neighbors?" In a world where writers and artists are continuously being known for cultural appropriation, I was amazed that nobody named Brewer outside for appropriating the enthusiast's story for his artistic gain. Brewer's sole connection to the outbreak is that he was born and raised in Virginia, the state with the highest overdose death rate in the country. "People responded,'They're about the tablets. We do not see them anymore. ''' If you want to write about a enthusiast, then you ought to avoid infantilizing and dehumanizing addicts, in addition to the trope that enthusiasts are all"lost and forsaken." A number of the most powerful, most courageous people I know are most now addicts. Active drug users such as The People's Harm Reduction Alliance in Seattle based needle markets, spread the overdose reversal medication, naloxone, and are fighting to open supervised safe injection websites. * If you wish to write a story about addiction, understand that most addicts struggle with whether or not they ought to openly share this portion of their identity. For a long time, I didn't think I'd actually write about my addiction to alcohol, opiates, and benzos. I didn't have the courage. Here in the Midwestwe maintain the laundry to ourselves. We do not out it. As soon as I wrote about my initial battle with alcoholism from 2011, my family cautioned me that it could impact my future job opportunities and relationship. I knew they were only looking out for the"best interests" But I believed: my solitude, my errors, my pick. I hoped that sharing my own dependence and vulnerability might be healing for me and possibly even help others. If you're planning to compose a story about dependence, understand how it's affected by different identities. By way of instance, I'm really lucky, because I have supportive friends and family. When I was broke and needed nothing, they offered me food, shelter, and support. Also associated with my privilege as a lady, middle-class lady is that I do not have a criminal background. Yes, even my clinic documents bother mepersonally, however, they are protected by confidentiality laws. In a sense, writing about my dependence felt like making these private documents a public matter. I was hesitant. Brewer was also reluctant to write concerning the opioid outbreak, for different reasons. He said,"West Virginia is quite seldom looked at in a positive light. So here is a scenario where something actually very terrible is happening, but it became really clear that this item was not likely to go off and was starting to seep into my everyday life." * Heroin does not seep into most people's lives. Heroin drowns. * There can be value in composing outside our own experience, as Brewer did. Representation is essential and when we all followed the information to only"write what we understand," things can get dull and boring. Artistic expression would suffer. Nonetheless, it's a tightrope. It is a practice in tremendous empathy, wanting to increase representation, while being respectful and staying in your lane. * If you wish to write about addicts, you'd gain from depicting the comedy of early comeback, a story which frequently falls out of the borders. When I was digging through my own videos and journals, I was of course humiliated by some of my very own narcissism and self pity. But I was surprised and heartened by the sudden joys such as my friendship with Tom in my first rehab. On my very first dayI discovered him in the smoking tent, wearing bright red Converse, a beret, and long sleeves to hide his track marks. I noticed the way his eyes brimmed with both kindness and sadness since he deadpanned in meetings. "You men are like The Wonder Twins of rehabilitation," personnel stated. Despite our 20-year age gap, we were inseparable. Tom bummed me Parliament menthols and lent me among his ear buds, so we can hear The Replacements, The Pixies or The Velvet Underground collectively. On weekends, we went to record shops, ate pizza, and he also read my shitty poetry. We created beaded lizards and built twisted birdhouses bedazzled with glitter and feathers. One day in class, we had to watch a 1987 film called, The Cat Who Drank and Used Too Much. "Was I just daydreaming, or did you say we're watching a film starring a cat?" Tom asked. "Yes, it's made for children. Missing and Found Ministries advocated it as a great way for parents to explain addiction to their children." "Drunken catswho knew?" I mentioned. I later learned that the movie was praised as an"audience popular about a beer drinking, drug addicted cat," as it was screened at the Oddball Film Festival in San Francisco. Our story starts in any city USA, a suburban community lined with rosebushes and plush green lawns. The movie opens as Pat the Cat is now becoming a red car for his morning commute. We see Pat drinking alcohol from a pitcher and beginning to experiment with different things. A cigarette here, a few prescription tablets, a little coke there (powdered sugar). "He would try something, it was never enough. Subsequently it was too much." Pat crashes his vehicle and almost loses all, but decides to move to rehab! "I am not trying to be catty, but Pat seems to be pretty well-off for me," Tom stated. In the conclusion of the movie, Pat has a cupcake to celebrate his own sobriety. Paradoxically, it seemed like just a few weeks! "If it were that simple!" I said. "Sure, his lifestyle isn't purr-fect, but it's fairly close!" What I am trying to express is: If you would like to compose a narrative about an addict, we might not be perfect, but we can do better. Starting today. If you would like to read stories about the opioid epidemic, I recommend starting with nonfiction. Aaron Gilbreath's article series, That Which We Don't Know. His essay"(Be) Coming Clean," is an earnest, insightful bit about his key heroin dependence, arrest, and receiving clean with methadone. Of course there are also excellent and illuminating literary novels concerning the same-sex dependence.